Episode 6 scene 15
For parts one and two, click here
If you love Game of Thrones, chances are you love Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage). But let’s face it: His popularity doesn’t do much to foster a healthy sense of morality in our society.
Take Tyrion, a whoring, cussing, imbibing, lustful dwarf who is at the same time charming and compassionate, and put him against the background of a bunch of lying, scheming, murdering, brutal scoundrels (his own father, Tywin Lannister, among them), and people will naturally prefer Tyrion. Not only that, his sins will seem excusable, minor, or even non-existent by comparison.
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Mandatory Credit: Photo by HBO/Everett/REX_Shutterstock (4705667g)
Peter Dinklage, ‘The Wars To Come’, (Season 5, ep. 01)
Game of Thrones – 2015
Okay…there’s a lot we can say about Tyrion. He is witty. He is charming. He has a gentler heart by far than 99% of the show’s many characters. But he is, for a good portion of the show, a man of lust.
It would be useful, however, to ask why he seeks happiness in sex with sundry women. Is it simply shameless self-indulgence, or is there something else going on here?
Think back to season one, episode nine — specifically, the scene in which Tyrion drinks and swaps stories with the sellsword Bronn (Jerome Flynn) and the prostitute Shae (Sibel Kikilli). In the course of their interactions, Tyrion reveals that he was married at age 16 to a woman with whom, in the naivete of youth, he had fallen in love (or so he thought). But not long after, he learned that it was all a setup. The woman was a hired prostitute. Tyrion’s father even forced him to watch as Lannister guardsmen had sex with her.
And this is only the tip of the iceberg. Eventually, we learn that Tyrion’s mother died giving birth to him; for that reason, and because he was a stunted dwarf from birth, he has incurred the lifelong ire of his family (with the exception of his brother, Jaime). His own father flatly tells him that he wanted to throw him into the sea as a baby, but spared his life only…
(. . .) because you’re a Lannister.
Evil does not subsist in itself. Evil is to good what the cavity is to the tooth. It’s existence is entirely parasitic. Therefore, every form of evil depends on a particular form of good, and every sin is a misdirected desire for something good.
So what good is Tyrion looking for, consciously or unconsciously? I think it’s safe to say he is looking for love. Except he’s not going about it the right way, because no one has ever shown him how.
He finally finds love during a brief and secret romance with Shae, which he is forced to end in order to protect the latter’s life. Unaware of Tyrion’s motives and deeply hurt, Shae turns against him. During a trial (presided over by none other than Tywin Lannister) in which Tyrion is charged with a crime he didn’t commit, she stands witness against him. Later, when Tyrion breaks out of his prison cell on the eve of his scheduled execution, he discovers that she is sleeping with his father.
And he kills her. Hardly the act of a genuine lover, but no doubt he had experienced something with her that, of all of his experiences, most closely approximated the “real thing.”
Okay — fast forward a bit: Tyrion has fled to the vast eastern continent of Essos and ended up at a brothel in the city of Volantis. He approaches an attractive young prostitute, strikes up a conversation, gains her interest, and is about to go with her to a secluded room.
But at just that moment, he is surprised to discover that he can’t do it. He does not appear to be upset about it — it is simply a new fact of life for him.
What can we make of this, precisely? In order to explore the possibilities suggested by this question, I turn once more to Pope St. John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body.”
In the address titled “Dominion over the Other in the Interpersonal Relation,” the late Holy Father expressed a profound insight that I will try my best to summarize.
In forfeiting their relationship with God, our first parents also seriously compromised their relationship with one another. No longer could they enjoy that same deep, intense, personal, self-giving union that they enjoyed in Eden, because sin has introduced the element of selfishness into their relations. Hence we have the phenomenon of lust, which is “insatiable” because the genuine goal of human sexuality by nature eludes it. Seeking pleasure in the indulgence of sexual appetite for its own sake, as Tyrion does for most of his adult life, is much like seeking relief from an itch by constantly scratching at it: It provides momentary relief from — one might even substitute the word “forgetfulness of” — the problem, but does nothing to solve it; in fact, it only makes the problem worse.
I think it’s safe to say that Tyrion has finally realized this. The experience of true love has shed light on a void within him that he now realizes cannot possibly be filled by random sex.
Sorry, but I was wrong again. I’ll need four posts rather than three. We’ll cover Dany next time.
Top image of Tyrion and image of Pope John Paul II from wikipedia — full citations:
1. “Tyrion Lannister-Peter Dinklage” by Uploaded by TAnthony. Via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tyrion_Lannister-Peter_Dinklage.jpg#/media/File:Tyrion_Lannister-Peter_Dinklage.jpg
2. “John Paul II 1980 cropped” by Fels_Papst.JPG: Nikolaus von Nathusiusderivative work: JJ Georges – This file was derived from: Fels Papst.JPG:. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:John_Paul_II_1980_cropped.JPG#/media/File:John_Paul_II_1980_cropped.JPG
Remaining images obtained through a Google image search