From Woman of War
(replying to MaryaStone)
Finally i have the time to answer to that topic, thanks for reminding me.
I think it is - on a formal level - not easy to compare both characters because we have no Sandor POV. Most of what readers and posters assume about his character is indeed drawn from a meticulate and exegetic analysis of small hints in the text where Tyrion's thoughts, wishes and actions are clearly obvious to us readers. Sandor is the big mystery where every reader can project his interpretations while Tyrion is literally an open book to us readers.
As you write, Marya, Tyrion has a "sort of epicurean attitude to life", we know this because we read about his joy in food (and wine), he perceives beautiful materials, beautiful clothes, is interested in architecture and, as we know, in learning and books. So we get a rather accurate picture of his personal preferences.
I happen to like the character Tyrion because, what a coincidence, I have about the same hobbies.
There is no way for me to know as much about Sandor. About this character so few informations are given, so every interested reader is able to shape his own little Sandor in his imagination, to build up his own projection, to load Sandor with attributes that make him interesting as character or even as erotic object of desire. He is in every reader's imagination exactly the enigmatic character that invites to be discussed, to dream of and to be shipped. This is why there are so many threads about Sandor: every interested reader has his own way of approach to that character and those threads serve to tune up your own Sandor scale with the keys and sounds perceived by other posters because there is no clear and unmistakable statement about the character given by the author. Everybody is invited to fabricate his own little Sandor after the few hints given in the text, like analysing a religious text. I admit this can be fun, it is an exercise of mind and people posting here enjoy mindgames (that's why I enjoy the character Tyrion, hehe
) but it should stay a game, with all the detachment and irony that makes it a splendid pleasure and not a reason to bash your fellow poster.
Whereas with Tyrion we have very clear informations. We know, as I said, about his private fancies and we have very precise informations about his sexual habits, which we can like or dislike. But the author says: WHAMM! Like that character or hate him! He is the way he is, the way I wanted him, you can't try with sophisticated arguments to make his flaws and crimes disappear, no 17 threads will make Symon, Shae or Tywin come alive, there is murder. We know about his twisted and tortured personality, his misanthropy, his sarcasm etc. We know when he raped and even what he thought when he did it. And we have part in his way into darkness which he followed during most of ADWD.
The informations we have about Sandor cannot be compared. To begin with the nasty part: has he been nicer to the prostitutes in the brothels he visited than Tyrion was? Did he pillage without raping? Did he kill without torturing while all the other hired killers did? So many posters have insisted: "oh no, he would never have done it, it is so out of his character!" and if he did, "he is on his redemption arc now". Well, that would not wake up potential victims, no more than a possible turn of Tyrion's character away from moral bancruptcy will wake up Shae or Tywin.
As you said, Marya, there has been and there even now is at least a little joy in Tyrion's life. i would not say that Sandor wallows in self pity but he imo wallows in misery. He does not try to see the glass half full, to him every glass is half empty (booze, I'll mention it later). No, Sandor has no I llusions about life. Do I like that? Sandor is an extremely interesting character with his history but no, I do not like his approach to life, there is no erotics in it to me, I cannot fabricate the the dark, strong sexy lover out of it. As character Sandor does not have enough facets for me, the little we know about him is too onedimentional to me.
What I truly enjoy in the character Tyrion is precisely this this inner monologue that may sometimes sound just like self pity. ( we do not have a Sandor inner monologue like: "damn, bugger that, the shit always hits my head, this couldn't go but wrong, that fucking bloody pretty wench always makes me more damn miserable than I was anyway........", we simply do not have anything like that) Despite all those grisly events that happened to Tyrion - he had his part in them, you need not mention it - he is still able to enjoy being alive, to see beauty where he finds it, in Septa Lemore or in the mystical surroundings of the boat travel. He knows how love feels, he is able to feel the longing for it and he knows that he longs for it and does not stop to believe in its possibilty. No, this character is alive as long as he is not truly dead, life is so full of possibilities. Tyrion's character gives us every moral approach possible, from the worst to the best, every emotion, from disgust to love to hatred and compassion. He is imo about the most multilayered character in the books.
Yes, Tyrion may be into self destruction by now, trying to be exactly the vile monster everybody, including himself, sees in him. Do not forget that Sandor once has been a nice little boy looking more or less cute while Tyrion from the first day of his life only met disgust in people. Even his first woman, his wetnurse, only touched him because she was paid for it. And the way he saw the Tysha catastrophe must have made it even more clear that it is money that makes people touch him. Aren't his indestructible and pathetic illusions about Shae's feelings actually a sign that he is not emotionally dead, that prostitutees are precisely not a masturbation tool to him?
Although I believe that Tyrion's sex life is grossly overrated in the debate: has he any sex in AGOT at all until Shae? Only in HBO I believe. And in ADWD he has sex exacty once, that gruesome scene with the slave prostitute with dead eyes. And the main topic with Shae was not sex, it was their twisted relationship. So sex is grossly overrated in the debate about Tyrion.
And we do not know any thing about the frequency of Sandor's brothel visits, so no way to give a reasonable evaluation.
Yes, Tyrion has a severe alcohol problem. And probably by now Sandor - if he is meant to be alive at all by Martin - has learned to live without booze. I cannot know if Sandor's fate ends on the Quiet Isle. Like so many posters I believe he will be reactivated to do a grand deed involving fire.
I am not willing to give a final judgement about Tyrions character, actually about ANY character, before the books have ended. I think Tyrion's downward spiral was necessary for his storyline first to break his nobleman's pride. A charakter that is supposed to give us so much insight into how Martin's world works cannot stay a privileged rich kid that gets his meals cooked, his clothes washed and his horses groomed. He has to go down rock bottom, there where in fact 98% of the people in this world are anyway. And, second, to build the character up for future events he has to be corrupted, Martin wants to give him work to do not only on plot level but in conflict with himself. Tyrion is maybe the character that does the widest balance act between "good" and "evil" from all characters so far, described in every pathetic detail.
No, I do not think that for the sake of catharsis morally corrupted characters like Sandor or Tyrion have to go out in a grandiose finale because the reader wants them to be justly punished. This may happen but seeing it as inevitable climax to satisfy the "typical" reader's desire for correct redemption would indeed be cliché. More so, since every reader may have a different idea of what constitutes the unforgivable sin in a particular character. Indeed we will find many events that cause quite opposite moral evaluations in posters. So who has to be redeemed to which degree and does not deserve any kind of happy ending? There is absolute ideology of morality among us posters.
So far I do not see if Sandor or Tyrion are moving towards doom or towards light. I can judge actions fhat have been done or the things a character did not do but should have done but I will refrain from a final moral judgement of any character until the last book is written.
Edited by brashcandy, 13 February 2012 - 07:58 PM.