Monday, July 27, 2015

The Tragically Insane Lysa Arryn

Everyone can agree that Lysa Arryn, both in the ASOIAF books and the televised series Game of Thrones, is . . . well, bat-shit crazy.

Lysa, from the HBO series Game of Thrones

But why is Lysa Arryn insane?

The key to Lysa's insanity lies in her past with Petyr Baelish (surprise, surprise).
Petyr Baelish, from the HBO series GoT

Lysa Tully had always been wickedly jealous of the attention her sister, Catelyn, had recieved from Petyr Baelish. When Petyr lost his duel with Brandon Stark for Catelyn's hand, Lysa visited Petyr in his chambers to comfort him. It was on this night that Lysa gave her maidenhood to Petyr, and their union resulted in Lysa carrying Petyr's child.

Lysa and Petyr, from the HBO series

When Lysa's father, Hoster Tully, found out Lysa was pregnant with Petyr's child, Hoster consulted his maester for a solution.

In a discussion with Petyr, Lysa says:
"I gave you my maiden's gift. I would have given you a son too, but they murdered him with moon tea, with tansy and mint and wormwood, a spoon of honey and a drop of pennyroyal. It wasn't me, I never knew, I only drank what Father gave me..."
Not approving of Lysa's escapades with the socially inferior Petyr Baelish, Hoster and his maester duped Lysa into drinking moon tea, a concoction used by Westerosi women to abort unwanted pregnancies.

Lysa, raged and depressed at losing her one real claim to Petyr, appealed to her father for Petyr's hand in marriage. Hoster Tully denied.

Hoster did what he thought was best for his daughter and his family name, but he regretted making Lysa so unhappy. Lord Tully is struck by fits of feverish mumbling on his death bed, saying the following to Catelyn (who Hoster mistakes as Lysa):
“Forgive me... the blood... oh, please... Tansy..." 
"You'll have others... Sweet babes, and trueborn." 
"..Be a good wife and the gods will bless you... sons...  trueborn sons... aaahhh."
After Brandon and Rickard Stark were killed by the Mad King, Jon Arryn of the Vale joined in Robert's Rebellion and acquired the support of Riverrun (House Tully's seat) by marrying the deflowered Lysa. By terminating Lysa's pregnancy, Hoster avoided a familial connection with Petyr Baelish, thereby eliminating Petyr's chances of one day owning Riverrun and fathering children of Tully blood, and setting Lysa up with a man from a noble house. After all, Jon Arryn was heirless, and Hoster was able to attest to Lysa's fertility.

Catelyn, "Sweet" Robin, and Lysa in the Eyrie's High Hall, from the HBO series

Though she was placed in a secure position as Lady of the Vale, Lysa Arryn nee' Tully continued to carry her love of Petyr Baelish and her intense jealousy of her sister, Catelyn.

When Petyr asks Lysa for her hand in marriage, she is intensely happy, believing Petyr has finally realized his love for her.

However, Petyr has arranged the marriage with Lysa for the sole purpose of becoming Protector of the Vale. He brings along the recently orphaned Sansa Stark, who is masquerading as Petyr's bastard daughter, Alayne Stone. Lysa knows Alayne is really her niece, and Lysa transfers her jealousy of her sister Catelyn onto Catelyn's daughter, Sansa.

Petyr and Sansa, from the HBO series

Lysa believes Sansa is Petyr's whore (a notion which is solidified for Lysa when she sees the pair kissing in a courtyard in the Eyrie), and she confronts Sansa in the Eyrie's High Hall. Sansa vehemently denies being in love with Petyr, which enrages Lysa, who believes her niece is lying. In her rage, Lysa attempts to push Sansa from the Moon Door.

Lysa threatening Sansa, from the HBO series

Petyr intervenes, saving Sansa and chastising Lysa.

Petyr and Lysa, from the HBO series

After comforting Lysa for a few moments, Petyr reveals that he has only ever loved one woman: Lysa's sister Catelyn. He then pushes Lysa from the Moon Door, ending her short, sad life.

After considering her tragic past, what do you think of the character Lysa Arryn?

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