Posted 24 March 2013 - 04:51 PM
Here is my speculation about what moves Petyr Baelish: he's short. I'm serious. He's had a lifetime to nurse that grievance, since people have been calling him Littlefinger since the age of nine.
Petyr's forebears are martial people: his great-grandfather, a Braavosi sellsword, was made a petty lord for his service to House Corbray, and his father must have done something to win the respect of the Lord Paramount of the Riverlands during the War of the Ninepenny Kings, because fostering the son of a petty lord from the Vale makes little sense otherwise. In an apparently offhand remark to Sansa, Petyr mentions an old hermit who told Petyr's father that Petyr would become a great man, in return for a skin of wine. It makes me wonder what sort of man Petyr's father was, and what sort of ambitions he had for Petyr to foster him with the Tullys.
However, it had to be obvious from early on that Petyr was physically unimposing and unlikely to win glory as a warrior, so the only way that Petyr could live up to his father's hopes was to make the right connections and marry well. He allows himself to fall in love with Catelyn Tully, and then he allows himself to fight a hopeless duel with her taller, stronger and quicker suitor, Brandon Stark. Stark badly injures him without much apparent effort, and while he recovers from his disillusionment over Catelyn's betrothal, he is banished for fathering a child on Lysa Arryn. What must that have been like, to come home to his proud warrior father and explain that all of his hopes were probably in vain? How does an intelligent child like Petyr deal with a world that mocks him for something he could not control, and forecloses his opportunities in favor of people who were born with wealth, strength and power?
Whatever the reason, it's obvious from his interactions with the smallfolk of his holdings that Petyr spends very little time there. Maybe it's painful for him to think all that much about it, and Petyr's mind simply isn't built to put aside unpleasant facts and dwell on the sweet things. This made him hungry to develop himself in ways that few others in the kingdom have, and everybody basically concedes that Petyr was indispensable as master of coin even as they deride him for being "a coin-counter, no proper lord," according to Emmon Frey.
I think Petyr's ambitions are obvious at this point. Robert is to die soon, in time for Sansa to wed Harrold Hardyng, which joins the heir to the Vale with the heir to the North. The Vale has spent none of its strength fighting the War of the Five Kings, and is well situated to capitalize on the Crown's exhaustion - especially in the Riverlands, where Petyr just happens to be Lord Paramount. If Lord Harrold dies suddenly without issue, then Lady Sansa inherits the Vale...just in time to marry Petyr, to whom three of the Seven Kingdoms would owe homage. If there were no more Baratheon heirs, who else would the Kingdoms make its King's Hand, if not its King?
My thoughts, anyway.