A while back on the Westeros.org forum I wondered if Lysa was not poisoning herself, maybe unknowingly, with the makeup and clothes she wears. This makeup poisoning would leech into her breast milk, therefore, Sweetrobin Arryn would also be ingesting poison, ramping up his “tolerance” in a way we see later with Maester Coleman.
Tully words: As high as honor.
I came across an interesting article about the poison in makeup and women’s dresses a long time ago. Some women would literally spontaneously ignite because of the toxins, and the would go “mad” from the poisons that leached into their systems… their humors would be off.
It was called the “Arsenic waltz” https://hyperallergic.com/133571/fatal-victorian-fashion-and-the-allure-of-the-poison-garment/
And green dye in history was known to be a killer, as was makeup in general with the copious uses of lead, arsenic, and other poisons and irritants. Lommy Greenhands was a dyer’s apprentice.
- A Game of Thrones – Daenerys
Across the aisle, a fat cloth trader from Yi Ti was haggling with a Pentoshi over the price of some green dye, the monkey tail on his hat swaying back and forth as he shook his head.
When we meet Lysa, she is caked in makeup, and we know that Sansa loves lemon cakes, so there could be a connection. Plus, the Whent blood also helps. Poison is a “women’s work”, but then again, so is wearing makeup (not a rule, just in general as far as ASOIAF goes).
- A Game of Thrones- Cat VI
… in truth; five cruel years, for Lysa. They had taken their toll. Her sister was two years the younger, yet she looked older now. Shorter than Catelyn, Lysa had grown thick of body, pale and puffy of face. She had the blue eyes of the Tullys, but hers were pale and watery, never still. Her small mouth had turned petulant. As Catelyn held her, she remembered the slender, high-breasted girl who’d waited beside her that day in the sept at Riverrun.
- “Quiet!” Lysa snapped at her. “You’re scaring the boy.” Little Robert took a quick peek over his shoulder at Catelyn and began to tremble. His doll fell to the rushes, and he pressed himself against his mother. “Don’t be afraid, my sweet baby,” Lysa whispered. “Mother’s here, nothing will hurt you.” She opened her robe and drew out a pale, heavy breast, tipped with red. The boy grabbed for it eagerly, buried his face against her chest, and began to suck. Lysa stroked his hair.
- A Game of Thrones – Sansa VI
“I will need hot water for my bath, please,” she told them, “and perfume, and some powder to hide this bruise.” The right side of her face was swollen and beginning to ache, but she knew Joffrey would want her to be beautiful.
- A Storm of Swords – Sansa VI
They put on their cloaks and waited outside. The riders numbered no more than a score; a very modest escort, for the Lady of the Eyrie. Three maids rode with her, and a dozen household knights in mail and plate. She brought a septon as well, and a handsome singer with a wisp of a mustache and long sandy curls.
Could that be my aunt? Lady Lysa was two years younger than Mother, but this woman looked ten years older. Thick auburn tresses fell down past her waist, but beneath the costly velvet gown and jeweled bodice her body sagged and bulged. Her face was pink and painted, her breasts heavy, her limbs thick. She was taller than Littlefinger, and heavier; nor did she show any grace in the clumsy way she climbed down off her horse.
Petyr knelt to kiss her fingers. “The king’s small council commanded me to woo and win you, my lady. Do you think you might have me for your lord and husband?”
Tears welled suddenly in Lady Lysa’s eyes. “We are women alone now, you and I. Are you afraid, child? Be brave. I would never turn away Cat’s daughter. We are bound by blood.” She beckoned Sansa closer. “You may come kiss my cheek, Alayne.”
Dutifully she approached and knelt beside the bed. Her aunt was drenched in sweet scent, though under that was a sour milky smell. Her cheek tasted of paint and powder.
- A Storm of Swords- Sansa VII
Amidst so much white marble even the sunlight looked chilly, somehow . . . though not half so chilly as her aunt. Lady Lysa had dressed in a gown of cream-colored velvet and a necklace of sapphires and moon-stones. Her auburn hair had been done up in a thick braid, and fell across one shoulder. She sat in the high seat watching her niece approach, her face red and puffy beneath the paint and powder. On the wall behind her hung a huge banner, the moon-and-falcon of House Arryn in cream and blue.
The only other person we see in story who is using an external application to primp themselves in a similar manner (possibly covering something up) is the Spider, Lord Varys. However, he is simply powdered, rather than painted and powdered:
- A Game of Thrones – Catelyn IV
“Family, Duty, Honor,” he echoed. “All of which required you to remain in Winterfell, where our Hand left you. No, my lady, something has happened. This sudden trip of yours bespeaks a certain urgency. I beg of you, let me help. Old sweet friends should never hesitate to rely upon each other.” There was a soft knock on the door. “Enter,” Littlefinger called out.
The man who stepped through the door was plump, perfumed, powdered, and as hairless as an egg. He wore a vest of woven gold thread over a loose gown of purple silk, and on his feet were pointed slippers of soft velvet. “Lady Stark,” he said, taking her hand in both of his, “to see you again after so many years is such a joy.” His flesh was soft and moist, and his breath smelled of lilacs. “Oh, your poor hands. Have you burned yourself, sweet lady? The fingers are so delicate … Our good Maester Pycelle makes a marvelous salve, shall I send for a jar?”
- A Game of Thrones – Eddard IV
The councillor Ned liked least, the eunuch Varys, accosted him the moment he entered. “Lord Stark, I was grievous sad to hear about your troubles on the kingsroad. We have all been visiting the sept to light candles for Prince Joffrey. I pray for his recovery.” His hand left powder stains on Ned’s sleeve, and he smelled as foul and sweet as flowers on a grave.
The only thing I can think of that could relate these two characters, Lord Varys and Lysa Tully-Arryn, is their sex… somehow. I know when Varys was cut, his fear was he was going to be used as a young male slave whore, whereas Lysa was basically sold off to Jon Arryn because she was seen as “ruined” because she already deflowered herself with Baelish. Lysa Arryan became a “painted whore”, to use the antiquated reasoning and verbiage.
(will add more book quotes soon)
Lysa is a little off her dead weirwood throne, but she may have has a
little a lot of help in the chemicals department…
- A Storm of Swords – Sansa VI
“They made me marry him. I never wanted it.”
“No more than I did,” her aunt said. “Jon Arryn was no dwarf, but he was old. You may not think so to see me now, but on the day we wed I was so lovely I put your mother to shame. But all Jon desired was my father’s swords, to aid his darling boys. I should have refused him, but he was such an old man, how long could he live? Half his teeth were gone, and his breath smelled like bad cheese. I cannot abide a man with foul breath. Petyr’s breath is always fresh . . . he was the first man I ever kissed, you know. My father said he was too lowborn, but I knew how high he’d rise. Jon gave him the customs for Gulltown to please me, but when he increased the incomes tenfold my lord husband saw how clever he was and gave him other appointments, even brought him to King’s Landing to be master of coin. That was hard, to see him every day and still be wed to that old cold man. Jon did his duty in the bedchamber, but he could no more give me pleasure than he could give me children. His seed was old and weak. All my babies died but Robert, three girls and two boys. All my sweet little babies dead, and that old man just went on and on with his stinking breath. So you see, I have suffered too.” Lady Lysa sniffed. “You do know that your poor mother is dead?”
Think back to these bits of information:
- A Storm of Swords – Catelyn I
He does not know me. Catelyn had grown accustomed to him taking her for her mother or her sister Lysa, but Tansy was a name strange to her. “It’s Catelyn,” she said. “It’s Cat, Father.”
“Forgive me . . . the blood . . . oh, please . . . Tansy . . .”
Could there have been another woman in her father’s life? Some village maiden he had wronged when he was young, perhaps? Could he have found comfort in some serving wench’s arms after Mother died? It was a queer thought, unsettling. Suddenly she felt as though she had not known her father at all. “Who is Tansy, my lord? Do you want me to send for her, Father? Where would I find the woman? Does she still live?”
Lord Hoster groaned. “Dead.” His hand groped for hers. “You’ll have others . . . sweet babes, and trueborn.”
Others? Catelyn thought. Has he forgotten that Ned is gone? Is he still talking to Tansy, or is it me now, or Lysa, or Mother?
When he coughed, the sputum came up bloody. He clutched her fingers. “. . . be a good wife and the gods will bless you . . . sons . . . trueborn sons . . . aaahhh.” The sudden spasm of pain made Lord Hoster’s hand tighten. His nails dug into her hand, and he gave a muffled scream.
- A Storm of Swords – Sansa VII
“We’ll send her away, then. Back to King’s Landing, if you like.” He took a step toward them. “Let her up, now. Let her away from the door.”
“NO!” Lysa gave Sansa’s head another wrench. Snow eddied around them, making their skirts snap noisily. “You can’t want her. You can’t. She’s a stupid empty-headed little girl. She doesn’t love you the way I have. I’ve always loved you. I’ve proved it, haven’t I?” Tears ran down her aunt’s puffy red face. “I gave you my maiden’s gift. I would have given you a son too, but they murdered him with moon tea, with tansy and mint and wormwood, a spoon of honey and a drop of pennyroyal. It wasn’t me, I never knew, I only drank what Father gave me . . .”
“That’s past and done, Lysa. Lord Hoster’s dead, and his old maester as well.” Littlefinger moved closer. “Have you been at the wine again? You ought not to talk so much. We don’t want Alayne to know more than she should, do we? Or Marillion?”
Basically, Sansa needs to get the F out of the Eyrie, and the F out of Auntie Crazy’s makeup and dresses and lemoncakes. And hmmm, interesting, Uncle Creepyfinger tells Alyane to avoid the cream:
- Alayne looked down at her dress, the deep blue and rich dark red of Riverrun. “Is it too—”
“It is too Tully. The Lords Declarant will not be pleased by the sight of my bastard daughter prancing about in my dead wife’s clothes. Choose something else. Need I remind you to avoid sky blue and cream?”
I can say that in all of my scouring of the infinite George RR martin stories I have read and noted extensively, the idea of painting something has only ever come up one other time and it is in relation to “fire god” type of characters. This page here starts to cover the fire religion in GRRM’s works.
- Fevre Dream
The bald man nodded. “There’s more. This Tipton visited Fork-in-the-Road.” “It’s a big slave mart,” the black partner said. “He bought a mess of slaves. Paid with gold.” The bald man pulled a twenty-dollar gold piece from his pocket and set it on the table. “Like this. Bought some other stuff back in Natchez, too. Paid the same way.”
“What kind of stuff?” Marsh asked.
“Slaver’s stuff,” the black man said. “Manacles. Chains. Hammers.”
“Some paint, too,” said the other. And suddenly the truth of it burst on Abner Marsh like a shower of fireworks. “Jesus God,” he swore. “Paint! No wonder no one has seen her. Goddamn. They’re smarter than I thought, and I’m an eggsuckin’ fool not to have seen it straight off!” He slammed his big fist down on the table hard enough to make the coffee cups jump.
“We figure just what you’re thinkin’,” the bald man said. “They painted her. Changed her name.”
[and then in this scene where truth is greatly exaggerated in order to find out some information, but the details of the story are an ASOIAF parallel. However, the boat in Fevre Dream was actually repainted from White to Black when the fires people too over.]
Karl Framm pushed through the crowd, a brandy in his hand. “I know a story,” he said, sounding a little drunk. “ ’S true. There’s this steamboat named the Ozymandias, y’see …”
“Never heard of it,” somebody said.
Framm smiled thinly. “Y’better hope you never see it,” he said, “cause them what does is done for. She only runs by night, this boat. And she’s dark, all dark. Painted black as her stacks, every inch of her, except that inside she’s got a main cabin with a carpet the color of blood, and silver mirrors everywhere that don’t reflect nothing. Them mirrors is always empty, even though she’s got lots of folks aboard her, pale-looking folks in fine clothes. They smile a lot. Only they don’t show in the mirrors.”
Someone shivered. They had all gone silent. “Why not?” asked an engineer Marsh knew slightly.
“Cause they’re dead,” Framm said. “Ever’ damn one of ’em, dead. Only they won’t lie down. They’re sinners, and they got to ride that boat forever, that black boat with the red carpets and the empty mirrors, all up and down the river, never touching port, no sir.”
“Phantoms,” somebody said.
“Ha’nts,” added a woman, “like that Raccourci boat.”
“Hell no,” said Karl Framm. “You can pass right through a ha’nt, but not the Ozymandias. She’s real enough, and you’ll learn it quick and to your sorrow if you come on her at night. Them dead folks is hungry. They drink blood, y’know. Hot red blood. They hide in the dark and when they see the lights of another steamer, they set out after her, and if they catch’er they come swarming aboard, all those dead white faces, smiling, dressed so fine. And they sink the boat afterward, or burn her, and the next mornin’ there’s nothing to see but a couple stacks stickin’ up out of the river, or maybe a wrecked boat full of corpses. Except for the sinners. The sinners go aboard that Ozymandias, and ride on her forever.”
*Editing in progress*
For additional mother/son relationships in A Song of Ice and Fire, I recommend this essay by SweetSunRay.
Thanks for reading the blog of the Fattest if Leech. I can only update when I can, however if you have any questions in the meantime, just ask.