When all is said and done, I think one of the strongest and most resourceful characters in Game of Thrones is the Half-Man, Tyrion Lannister.
The sad irony of being born into a royal family known for their physical beauty and having to overcome enormous odds with them is the tip of the iceberg with the dwarf. Having his mother die giving birth to him guarantees his father’s continuous disdain. His Sister, the ice-like Cersei, looks at him with such contempt, it’s enough to make one cry. Even his brother, Jaime, had a great part in humiliating him by setting him up with a whore who pretended to love him and then snatching her away in the most heartbreaking way by having her used by countless men in front of him. The Imp is an embarrassment to them.
We would think that all this would serve to make him a complete monster. Hate usually breeds hate. But, to my constant amazement, Tyrion mostly displays kindness. Even after suspecting his own family members in a plot to kill Bran, and ironically enduring the suspicions of the Starks when returning to Winterfell from The Wall, he submits to the Starks a design for a harness-like contraption that will allow Bran to ride again. This is an act of pure kindness. Quite Un-Lannister!
The dwarf’s advice to Jon Snow, although seemingly delivered in a hard-ass way, shows his genuine desire to see Jon accept what he is and draw strength from it. He’s teaching Jon how to develop a tougher skin. He identifies with Jon. Yes, he has a definite love for cripples, bastards and broken things. By the time he is ready to leave The Wall, Jon has come to respect him. You can see it in his eyes.
Tyrion’s a smart-ass; he’s snarky. This is the only armor strong enough to protect the dwarf. His wits and intelligence are his sword and shield. They keep him alive in a world that sees death all too easily; a world where people bludgeon each other - daily. Yes, Tyrion is a marvel in that he manages to save himself and do it in a way that is not contemptible like his sister and brother. His affliction is his salvation. It gives him empathy for others.
Tyrion’s relationship with Shae is touching. He’s sort of reliving his past with her being paid for, but as it evolves, he sees that she seems to be the genuine article and lets his guard down. His desire to keep her with him and protect her at the same time is his conflict. He should send her away, but she is his soft place in a very hard world. She doesn’t judge him. Even when he’s lying wounded and disfigured after battle, she tells him that she is his and he is hers.
When abandoned by his nephew, King Joffrey, at Cersei’s insistence, Tyrion rises to the occasion by leading the fight to save Kings Landing. He surprises himself. There is no alternative, but to embolden the men. At the end of the second season, he is once again in murky waters. His father has come to attack Stannis from behind and wins the battle. Tywin Lannister is named Hand of the King and Tyrion has been relegated to a cluttered room far away from the main stream to nurse his wounds. Instead of getting credit for his heroic part in the battle, he is now being humiliated once more and what’s worse, is more disfigured than ever.
But, this is no ordinary person. I wouldn’t consider him out for the count by any means. He’s larger than life.
After all, oftimes a very small man can cast a very large shadow.