Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish is a schemer, but his long term plans are as murky as the mind behind them. From what we know of his plotting so far, they must be ambitious, primal, and not just a little insane. An analysis of his background followed by his machinations thus far is in order. Over all, we must keep in mind George R. R. Martin’s statement on his blog that Littlefinger is very much based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Gatsby from the novel of the same name. Gatsby is a schemer who wants to gain the love of his childhood crush, but ends up tragically having sacrificed himself and his fortune for a woman – Daisy Buchanan – who not only never truly loved him in return, but was never really worthy of it.
Baelish grew up in straightened circumstances on the Fingers (hence his nickname), the son of a son of an immigrant from Braavos. His house sigil is not the little bird he has adopted, but the giant head of the colossus of that fabled city. (Keep that in mind for later.) His father, wishing to advance his bright son, had him fostered with the Lord Paramount of his region, the Riverlands, Hoster Tully of Riverrun. In that magnificent household, the young Petyr fell hopelessly and passionately in love with Catelyn Tully. Though she was affectionate with him, as girls can be with a risk free attachment, Catelyn was dutiful and her father was engaged in a series of matchmaking conspiracies that has come to be known as the Southron Ambitions theory after its originator’s, Stefan Sasse, observation that Lady Barbrey Dustin was correct in seeing something nefarious and unusual with Lord Rickard Stark’s arrangements for his sons and daughter. Catelyn was a key pawn in the marriage alliances. She was to be Brandon Stark’s wife while Lysa might be wed to Jaime Lannister or Jon Arryn’s son.
Baelish, being a naïve and romantic boy, challenged Brandon Stark to a duel for Catelyn’s hand. The well-trained and athletic Brandon had little trouble with him. Littlefinger was bedridden for some time after losing in spectacular fashion. Lysa Tully, who in turn loved him just as passionately as he loved her sister, had sex with him while he was under the influence of milk of the poppy. She became pregnant, but her father, Hoster, tricked her into drinking an abortifacient, Tansy Tea, which not only caused her great distress but damaged her uterus. She would have difficulty conceiving for the rest of her life. What Petyr had not realized was that it had been Lysa whom he had deflowered after drinking too much at Catelyn’s engagement party. Because he mistook Lysa for Catelyn, he believed he had deflowered both sisters and has proceeded to boast of it in King’s Landing.
After Baelish had recovered somewhat from the duel, Hoster Tully exiled him from Riverrun. As a result of the many consequences of Rhaegar and Lyanna’s disappearance, read as a kidnapping by everyone except the Targaryens, Lysa married Jon Arryn, widowed and now without an heir. Catelyn married Eddard “Ned” Stark and conceived Robb on their wedding night. Lysa, however, had not forgotten Littlefinger. Using her influence with her husband, she steadily advanced Littlefinger’s career from his manipulations as a customs official in Gulltown to his massive financial frauds as Master of Coin and member of the Small Council in King’s Landing. Littlefinger used his brothels and control over the treasury to gain information and influence through various loans and bedroom confidences. His network extended far and wide. Eventually, when Lysa became alarmed that her beloved son, Robert “Sweetrobin”, would be fostered either with Tywin Lannister or Stannis Baratheon, Littlefinger had Lysa poison her husband to death AND write to her sister, Catelyn, that she suspected the Lannisters of having done it. She then fled King’s Landing with Sweetrobin to await Littlefinger’s promised arrival.
With a gambler’s knack for exploiting the main chance, as BryndenBFish has observed, Littlefinger lies about the Catspaw’s knife from Bran’s assassination attempt to further Catelyn’s suspicion of Tyrion Lannister. In the meantime, he arranges for Ned Stark to only slowly and fitfully learn of the Cersei-Jaime incest while secretly giving choice information to the Lannisters. His aim is clear: the destruction of Ned Stark and, by extension, revenge himself for his loss to Brandon. But, it is the Hand’s Tournament that pushes Baelish into the realm of fantasy and obsession.
Sansa, who loves tales of chivalry, is entranced by Ser Loras Tyrell, whose showy performance as the Knight of Flowers does not betray his same sex inclinations. Loras cheats in his joust with Gregor “the Mountain” Clegane by riding a mare in heat that distracts Gregor’s stallion. When he wins he gives the Hand’s daughter, Sansa, a red rose in effect crowning her as the queen of love and beauty. Though Sandor “the Hound” Clegane is given the winner’s gold, it is Loras who has truly won. As Preston Jacobs has pointed out, this is an almost exact copy of the Harrenhal Tournament where Rhaegar gave a garland of blue roses to Lyanna Stark, crowning her the queen of love and beauty, instead of his wife, Elia. We have a champion who cheated (Rhaegar’s red rubied armor in which no one can lay a lance on him is likely magically protected – a cheat.), a Stark daughter being crowned, and flowers with only one item missing – Harrenhal. It comes next.
For his part in betraying Ned Stark to the Lannisters, King Joffrey gives Littlefinger Harrenhal as a reward. Harrenhal is an immense estate; therefore, attaining it is a great advance in rank and status for anyone. However, it is also an accursed place that has been a doom for all of its owners. Aegon the Conqueror had Balerion largely destroy it by soaking it in dragon fire. Harren the Black, for whom it was named, and everyone inside was roasted alive. As dragons are the nuclear weapons of “A Song of Ice and Fire”, we may safely conclude that there is still some nuclear fallout just as the Doom of Valyria did not just destroy the Freehold, but rendered it uninhabitable for generations. With Harrenhal though, Baelish has almost completed his dream of revenge, advancement, and fulfillment of prophecy.
At present, Baelish has arranged for Sansa to be implicated in Joffrey’s murder, expertly exploited her love of chivalry in the process using Dontos as his intermediary, and gained complete control over her and her cousin, Sweetrobin. Combined with Harrenhal and his debt manipulations, Littlefinger has control over the Vale, substantial influence in the Riverlands, and in his power over Sansa, the current key to the North. However, there is only one thing of which we can be certain: the plan that he has laid out to Sansa is not his true plan.
While under the guise of mentoring Sansa in the game of thrones, actually just another way of Baelish needing an acolyte and controlling her, Littlefinger sketches out a fairly outlandish plot for 1) Sweetrobin to die; 2) Harry Hardyng to become the Lord Paramount of the Vale; and 3) Marry Sansa, at which point 4) Sansa will transform from Alayne into Sansa Stark, and 4) The Vale will ride for her to take the North, and, then, underpants and profit, but more likely Sansa will be Queen of Westeros. In short, it is such a terrible plan that even Sansa, who up until recently believed in chivalry, should not believe in it. First, Sansa is still married to Tyrion. Second, the Vale knights have no particular loyalty to her or her family. Affinities for the Starks and Northern connections are not sufficient causes for war. Third, Harry Hardyng would be her lord and master as a husband and/or Lord of the Vale and has shown no inclination to fight the Lannisters and the rest of Westeros on her behalf. So, what is the actual plan?
The plan does do one thing very successfully – coopt Sansa and allay her suspicions. Littlefinger has done what he always has. He has lied to gain a confidence, then abused that confidence. From his forced kisses to his Catelyn obsession, he has made it clear he wishes to bed Sansa. He has also demonstrated that he wishes to dominate all others. This means that he is plotting to put himself on the Iron Throne with Sansa as his queen. But, these are bizarre objectives for such a lowly born person including the acquisition of that white elephant of a doomed household known as Harrenhal. It all reeks of a diseased mind, or a mind that is being manipulated by dreams and prophecy.
It is certainly not far-fetched to think Littlefinger is under a spell. Westeros is awash with bizarre dreams, prophetic visions, and belief in supernatural powers. George R. R. Martin also has a tendency to write about hive-minded beings manipulating mere mortals with visions and dreams. See “A Song of Lya”, Dying of the Light, “And Seven Times Never Kill Man”, and so on. We also see the same phenomenon at work in “A Song of Ice and Fire”. Besides the song and singer motif, we have Rhaegar the bard and believer in prophecy, Targaryens who become so obsessed with dreams and prophecies they drink wildfire, drown their nightmares with drink, and go mad with visions. Catelyn frees Jaime after a dream. Jaime goes back for Brienne after sleeping on a weirwood stump. Sweetrobin has to be drugged into a near coma to escape from phantom singing while he is in the Eyrie. Ramsay and Theon get their plots for Winterfell from dreams. Jojen and Meera have Bran seek out the three eyed raven of his dreams and Jojen’s “green dreams”. Euron and Shireen complain of their dreams. Tyrion confides in Jon that he has dragon dreams. Jon himself is tortured by a recurring nightmare of the crypts in Winterfell. It would be highly unlikely that Petyr Baelish is not also a victim of dreams with prophetic promises.
Until the birth of dragons caused the glass candles to burn again allowing their owners to enter dreams, the only other entities capable of doing such things are the Children of the Forest who call themselves the Singers of the Earth (the song thing again). Whether they are behind Baelish’s obsessive aspirations or not, Littlefinger has definitely served their purpose under the Kimdisi philosophy of sowing distrust among your enemies so that they destroy themselves. Littlefinger has been instrumental in causing the Stark-Lannister side of the War of the Five Kings and he is not done with his plotting. Humanity has been substantially weakened. The Singers have been well served and, as we know: Valar dohaeris (All men must serve.).
The foregoing is largely derives from Preston Jacobs’ You Tube videos and the broadcasts of Radio Westeros.