Tyrion Lannister Character File

Hoe maak je nu een personage waar íederéén van houdt? Geen idee. Dus daarom ontleedde ik aan de hand van John Truby’s theorieën het beroemde personage van Tyrion Lannister uit Game of Thrones.


All dwarfs are bastards in their father’s eyes.” (S01E01 – Winter is Coming)

It’s obvious that Tyrion’s core wound is the (constant) rejection and disapproval by his father. Though his core wound is a result of what he is (a dwarf) it is depicted more vividly and psychologically in a single backstory event, which is revealed in S01E09 – Baelor, when Tyrion reveals the story of Tysha, his first wife.

“When I was 16 my brother Jaime and I were riding when we heard a scream. She ran out on to the road, clothes half torn off with two men on her heels. Jaime scared away the men easily enough while I wrapped her in my cloak. She was too scared to send off on her own so while Jaime hunted down her rapers, I took her to the nearest inn and fed her. Her name was Tysha. She was a wheelwrights orphan and she was hungry. Together we finished off three chickens and a flagon of wine. Impossible as it seems there was a time when I was unaccustomed to wine. I forgot how afraid I was around girls. How I was always waiting for them to laugh at me or look away embarrassed or ask me about my tall, handsome brother. I forgot about everything but Tysha. Somehow I found myself in her bed. Didn’t last long, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. She was good to me. She kissed me afterwards and sang me a song. And by morning I was deep enough in love to ask for her hand. A few lies, a few gold coins and one drunken septon and there you have it: man and wife. For a fortnight anyway until the septon sobered up and told my father. First my father had Jaime tell me the truth. The girl was a whore you see. Jaime had arranged the whole thing. The rue, the rapers, all of it. He thought it was time I had a woman. After my brother confessed my father brought in my wife and gave her to his guards. He paid her well. A silver for each man. How many whores can command that kind of price? He brought me into the barracks and made me watch. By the end she had so much silver that the coins where slipping through her fingers and rolling onto the floor.” 

This story depicts many things, including Tywin’s priorities (and Martins writing skills). Namely that he won’t have a son of his, dwarf or not, married to a sex worker (because it tarnishes his core wound: legacy). He values this more than the feelings of his children. It also brilliantly depicts the core wound of Tyrion’s quest for authentic love. Instead of this being a straight arrowed story of Tyrion acting in ways to earn his father’s love, it is visualising the story of Tyrion settling for inauthentic love (by someone who is paid). After all, if Tyrion had known authentic love from his father (or mother, whom died giving birth), maybe he would have recognized inauthentic love from Tysha. Plus, the betrayal is by Jaime, the only person in Tyrion’s life who does love him authentically, causing an extra trauma for Tyrion regarding this subject*. It is also a set-up for the learning curve for his relationship with Shae whom he chooses to love knowing full well she is a sex worker, thus upsetting his father. Because Shae counts as the second time Tyrion loves a sex worker, he is inclined not to make the same mistake he did then. This is a primary source of conflict (S04E02 – The Lion and the Rose). This makes the climax of their love story, when Tywin sleeps with Shae (in S04E10 – The Children), cathartic and well rounded.

(*In the books when Jaime helps Tyrion escape King’s Landing, he tells him that their father forced him to lie to Tyrion as punishment for marrying a commoner and that Tysha was in fact not a sex worker but an innocent girl who did truly love him. Meaning Tyrion was once loved authentically and it was diminished by his father which motivates Tyrion to murder him. In the series it was switched for Shae betraying Tyrion and thereby having her authentic love be diminished by his father, likely because the writers suspected viewers couldn’t remember the story from three seasons earlier. Because I use the series as an example I analyse the story of Tysha like she was a sex worker and her love was not authentic.)

Need & Weaknesses


He’s a dwarf in a world where strength and violence rule.

One of the many great things about Tyrion being a dwarf is that it’s an embodiment of physical limitation in a world where this almost certainly equals death. Tyrion needed this “weakness” because without it, Tyrion would’ve been exactly like his father, significantly altering the story. However, as a dwarf, he’s faced with rejection and being a shame to his family.  Also, the fact that Tyrion is a dwarf is deeply embedded to the fiber of his being*. Tyrion is constantly reminded by the outside world of what he is. It also makes him physically inferior in the eyes of the world to almost anyone and thus prone to be taken prisoner. This is a recurring twist through out the series and is used both as a plot device and a learning curve for the character. His desire does occasionally create plot but most of the times Tyrion is a pawn in the desires of others (i.e. more powerful men like Littlefinger and Tywin). Because of his physical appearance, Tyrion learns to be resilient, using his intellect to get him out of every situation.

*The depiction of Tyrion as a dwarf has been critized by people with achondroplastic in that it plays too much of a role in his character. Though his character is complex, his depictions of what he can and can’t do is all defined by his dwarfism. Indeed, Tyrion brings up his physical appearance constantly as if he can’t come to terms with it, which in real life, of course, isn’t true. 


Seeking love and approval of his father.

The lack of love and approval by his father creates a serious flaw in Tyrion that hurts only him. This flaw is that he doesn’t recognise authentic love when it is given to him. It also means that he only seeks inauthentic love (from sex workers he pays) and approval from the people that will never give it to him (the people of King’s Landing). This is all the embodiment of seeking the authentic love and approval of his father.


To stop seeking the love and approval of his father.

Obviously the automatic need that stems from his weakness is to stop seeking the love and approval of his father. This makes Tyrion the character who’s psychological need is the most obviously identical to the macro/universal one of the series: to stop living in the patriarchal Medieval society of Westeros.

It is also literally depicted in the story in S01E10 – Fire and Blood:

In E10 Tyrion earns the approval of his father after bringing the Hill Tribes and the Ice River Clans to the Lannister army resulting in them winning the Battle at the Green Fork. Impressed with Tyrions strategic skills, Tywin promotes him to the Small Council to act as Hand of the King on his behalf. However, with Tyrion trying to love Shae under the rule of his father, Tywin urges his son: “Not to take the whore to court”.  This is a literal depiction of the larger theme. Tywin forbids Tyrion to love under his fatherly supervision and it creates the unsolvable dilemma for Tyrion: pursuing the love and approval of a man who will never give it results in never being able to receive/allow authentic love and approval of others.

Season two: His psychological need is then slowed down with a mini arc where Tyrions sister Cersei takes the place of conflict instead of their father in season two. Because he’s not literally under his father’s control Tyrion can both fall in love authentically with Shae and gain the approval of the people of King’s Landing while also rocking the game of thrones. But because all of these victories are made by the grace of his father giving him the power of Hand of the King, Tyrion is nearly killed by the end of the season. This is a major learning step towards his psychological need.

Season three: With his father returning to control him, Tyrion is once more powerless, being married off to Sansa Stark. This is the season where he stops having sex (with Shae as to not dishonour his wife Sansa, but because Sansa refuses sex with him, Tyrion ends up having none) and power (though he is still on the Small Council and Master of Coin).
Season four: is another major step in that he is once more unjustly captured. Only now everything is taken from him. The people of King’s Landing turn against him, Shae betrays him (because he send her away for being a sex worker even though she loved him) and his father moves to have him executed. Now Tyrion finally learns to let go of it all and murder his father and love. Releasing him from his patriarchal prisons (Westeros) and fulfilling his psychological need. (But turning him into a bitter sceptic for season five).

Season five is the season of rebirth. We find Tyrion exactly the same way he started the series only now he has fulfilled his psychological need and it leaves him empty, bitter and tormented by what he has done which gets in the way of his moral need.


Selfishly spends all his father’s money on sleeping with sex workers, drinking wine and tarnishing the Lannister name, while faking disinterest in the world. 

In the first episode we find Tyrion sleeping with a sex worker and drinking wine, pretending not to care about anything or anyone. Tyrion knows he won’t get the love and approval of his father because he is a dwarf and therefore does exactly what his father hates; ruining the family name. Notice how this immoral action is the opposite of what he needs to do. Yet it is the natural cognitive reaction to rejection/his psychological weakness.


Not using his intelligence for the greater good of the realm

However, it’s not the literal actions to provoke his father that are his weakness. At the source of his immoral behaviour is that he does these things while being intellectual capable of doing far greater things. He has the potency of ruling the Seven Kingdoms and restoring stability to the realm, but instead he is wasting away in self-pity. How does this hurt others? One only has to wonder if any of the events that happen in the beginning of the series would’ve happened had Tyrion been politically engaged sooner. 


To use his intelligence for the greater good of the realm.

This is both the learning curve for the first season as for the entire series. By the end of season one Tyrion is appointed Hand of the King and he is in the position he deserves to use his intellect for the greater good. However, because it is by the grace of his father and within the patriarchal Medieval society that harms him, it is the wrong way. We follow this wrong way all the way to the end of season four, before he has to start over outside of patriarchal grip in season five. The plot of the first season for Tyrion is set-up to teach him how to use his intellect instead of wasting it on hookers and booze. This is why, in the fifth season when he finds a sex worker he takes a liking to he can no longer sleep with her. Twice now he has burned his fingers on inauthentic love with hookers and he cannot do it again. Thus paving the way for him to become focused on working on a better world*.

S01E01 – Winter is Coming. Tyrion doesn’t care about any of the formalities and prefers to fuck his way through Winterfell. However, when he meets the bastard Jon Snow he takes a liking to him. Telling him to “never forget what you are because the world will not. Wear it like armor and it can never be used against you”. When Jon asks why he tells him this, Tyrion replies it’s because he has a soft spot for “cripples, bastards and broken things”.

S01E03 – Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things. After spending the first act of the season as a dynamic ally to Jon Snow, the two have formed a bond strong enough that Tyrion decides to stop on his way back south to King’s Landing at Winterfell to give Jons brother Brann a drawing of a device with which he can ride horse again now he’s crippled. After helping Jon, this is the second time Tyrion has helped a “weak” person in this society like himself. Thus teaching him to use his wits for those people who need it. However, shortly after he is punished for this in the form of Catelyn Stark unjustly assuming that Tyrion tried to murder Brann and therefor taking him captive. Resulting in:

E04-E07. The second act of the first season Tyrion spends as a prisoner of Catelyn. Because he is accused of a crime he not only didn’t commit but knows little off, Tyrion is left to fend for himself with his intellect. Ultimately, he succeeds in being released and gets a (paid) friend to boot: Bronn. Thus teaching Tyrion to use his wits for himself. This is also immediately punished with Bronn and Tyrion being captured by the Hill Tribes and Ice River Clans. Resulting in:
E08-E10: The final act of the season Tyrion using the tribes and clans to fight for his father, earning his approval and a spot in power. He meets Shae, a sex worker, whom he willingly connects with, thus also finishing off his cycle of immoral behaviour from sleeping around to a monogamous relationship.

*This is also why, during the conversation with Daenarys in S05E08 – Hardhome, it is of great importance that she grabs the cup of wine out of his hands when she says he will advise her “while you can still speak in complete sentences”; she is the first and only person who has stopped him from drinking wine signalling that in order to serve the realm he needs her just as much as she needs him.

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