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Saturday, 24 November 2018

Theon Greyjoy: The Tragic Traitor

Oh Theon. He is one difficult character within the Game of Thrones universe and a character that stirs up a lot of debate among fans. Is he a treacherous arsehole who deserved what he got? Has he managed to repent his sins? Is he a tragic character that was wrongly abused? Should Jon have killed him?

Theon's character arc is one of the richest throughout the show, along with Jaime and Sansa in that all three characters have become completely different from how they were at the start. Theon was initially the over-confident cocky guy who was a bit of a douchebag, but he was loyal to Robb as his practically brother and would have laid down his life for him. He loved the Starks and was a part of their family, despite being a Greyjoy. Ned never treated him poorly. He and Jon never got along, but there was no awful blood between them.

And yet in Season 2, Theon made the decision to betray Robb and take over Winterfell for his estranged father and sister to prove himself. I think people misunderstand a lot about Theon's character and how torn he would have been between the two houses of Stark and Greyjoy, and in A Clash of Kings his pov chapters show his uncertainty. Imagine being a ten year old kid uprooted from your family and made to go and live with another. The Starks were always kind to him - Catelyn treated him better than she treated Jon, despite Jon being a true blood Stark.

And yet a part of his identity would always have been slightly cut. In the show's very first episode when they discover the direwolves, Theon says there are five: one for each of Ned's trueborn children. And the sixth (Ghost; what a legend) goes to Jon, the runt of the litter. Yet even the runt of the litter gets a cute puppy. Theon could never truly be a Stark because of his name. This show is set in a place where the family name is everything, and being highborn, lowborn or a bastard determines your worth and what kind of life you will have. Some people, like Littlefinger, Varys and Melisandre, manage to rise up the ranks despite being born into poverty. But for the majority of citizens in Westeros, their fate is sealed by their family name and social class.

When Robb sends Theon to the Iron Islands in Season 2, Theon suddenly wants to win over his biological father. Ned was more of a father to him than Balon ever was - Balon didn't even want to save his own son from Ramsay. Yara seemed to be the only one on the island who actually cared about Theon and loved him. The one person outside of the Stark family who came to Theon's aid was his sister, but by that point he was too broken.

I think there must be something very wrong with a person who thinks anyone deserves to go through the sheer level of physical and psychological torture that Ramsay put Theon through. Anyone who has seen or read ASOIAF knows that Ramsay Bolton is one of the most disgusting characters ever created. He is a cunning psychopath in every sense of the word. Even Joffrey isn't as bad as Ramsay because Joffrey is stupid and annoying; Ramsay is smart and terrifying, appearing to be scared of nothing. Even right before he's about to be devoured by hounds, he just laughs and scoffs that his hounds would never hurt him.

I think Theon should have joined the Night's Watch after what he did. Based on everything we know about Jon Snow's character, I doubt he would have killed Theon if Theon had begged for mercy and appeared truly sorry for his sins. Yes, betraying Robb and slaying two innocent farm boys was awful. But few people in this show (and in life) are truly pure and innocent; they've all had to do bad or crazy things in order to survive.

There are people far worse than Theon Greyjoy who may have seemed more deserving of the unfathomable torture Ramsay put him through. Cersei Lannister is no angel, and yet when she had her walk of atonement I was appalled. Two wrongs don't make a right and you can't fight cruelty with cruelty. Having said that, if a person is past the point of redemption like Ramsay or Joffrey then disposing of them is safer for the rest of the world. But my God, seeing what Theon went through and how he ended on Season 7 makes me really hope that in Season 8 he will save his sister and kill his uncle Euron. (Or 'nuncle'; dammit A Feast For Crows). 

Do you think Theon deserved what he got? Will there be any hope for him in the last season? Let me know your thoughts!

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