I’ll try to avoid spoilers, but I feel the need work out some end-of-season “Game Of Thrones” thoughts.
Maybe I’m reading too much of my own thinking into it, but I have never really been convinced that Tywin Lannister hates his “dwarf” son Tyrion as thoroughly as Tyrion believes. It’s clear that Tyrion believes that his father despises him because of his physical abnormality. At least once Tywin admitted that he wanted to drown the Tyrion when he was an infant. He never denied any of the negative feelings about Tyrion attributed to him by others.
On the other hand, I don’t remember Tywin ever saying, affirmatively, that he hates Tyrion because he is a “dwarf.” Most often, he says what a disappointment he is because of his drinking, whoring, and irreverent, cavalier attitude towards everything, especially “the family”. Also, like Tyrion’s sister Cersi, Tywin supposedly also holds Tyrion responsible for his wife’s death, which occurred while giving birth to Tyrion. These would all be pretty weak reasons to reject a child anyway, especially since so much of Tyrion’s “attitude” is directly related to feeling he’s an outcast. But while the show seems to want us to understand that the conflict between Tyrion and his father is all about Tywin’s rejection, and that the rejection is all about Tyrion’s physical disability, what’s on the screen seems more ambiguous to me.
I think Tywin’s feelings about Tyrion are far more mixed and complex than Tyrion knows. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Tywin hides a more progressive attitude underneath his patriarchal bluff and bluster. I would only point out that when Tyrion actually demonstrated competence and intelligence, Tywin went with it, and relied on him as a pivotal agent in the Lannister family’s plans. Despite this season’s stunning conclusion, I am left still wondering whether Tywin was telling the truth … that he never intended Tyrion to be executed, but rather was concealing plans within plans … much like everyone else in the “Game Of Thrones” universe. I’m not saying there was anything like conventional fatherly love there, but I think there must have been some kind of respect … maybe appreciation of potential.
If that’s even half true, that would suggest that Tyrion may have overestimated the amount of stigma applied to him, at least by his family. Cersi is pretty clear that she’d like to see him dead, but for her it really does seem to be misplaced anger about the loss of her mother. Jaime actually seems to like, respect, and love Tyrion. And the little kids of the Lannister family seem to respect and enjoy their funny Uncle Tyrion … the detestable Joffrey very much excepted. It can’t be easy being a “dwarf” in a medieval society, but Tyrion brings far more of his own messed up ideas to the table than he realizes.
Maybe it’s wishful thinking. Maybe it’s because Charles Dance brought more to the character than George R. R. Martin himself. I wonder if the true nature of Tywin’s feelings about his son Tyrion will ever be clear.
Then again, why should it be any clearer than these relationships are for real disabled people and their families? There's how our parents feel about us, and then there's how we assume our parents feel about us. It's complicated. All I can say for sure is that crossbows and death sentences don't tend to help clarify things.
Note: I follow “Game Of Thrones” the TV show, not the books, so if the relationships are somehow clearer in the books, I don’t really care. The show IS “Game Of Thrones” to me.