TW: RAPE, TW: INCEST
This is taken directly from a reply on Reddit, that articulates it much better than I could.
If you read Aeron’s chapters closely, you’ll find that he repeatedly goes back to this mention of an old, rusty, creaking iron hinge. Here are some relevant quotes from Aeron chapters.
"The sound came softly, the scream of a rusted iron hinge. ‘Urri’ he muttered, and woke, fearful. There is no hinge here, no door, no Urri."
And more damningly:
"That man is dead. Aeron had drowned and been reborn from the sea, the god’s own prophet. No mortal man could frighten him, no more than the darkness could….nor memories, the bones of the soul. The sound of a door opening, the scream of a rusted hinge. Euron has come again. It did not matter. He was Damphair priest, beloved of god.”
At the Kingsmoot, when the Ironborn are chanting Euron’s name, having chosen him for their king:
"Even a priest may doubt. Even a prophet may know terror. Aeron Damphair reached within himself for his god and discovered only silence. As a thousand voices shouted out his brother’s name, all he could hear was the scream of a rusted iron hinge."
"Nine sons were born from the loins of Quellon Greyjoy, and I was the least of them, as weak and as frightened as a girl. But no longer. That man is drowned, and the god has made me strong."
The first three deal with the hinge, its association with a traumatic event in Aeron’s past, and some insight into his unbelievably intense hatred of Euron. The fourth doesn’t seem quite as related, but I think it ties into the incredibly deep-seated issues Aeron has with masculinity, self-assuredness, and power, something that would be far from unheard of in a victim of sexual abuse.
Obviously, there is no 100% surefire evidence that makes it possible to say, yes, Euron definitely molested Aeron. But I think it is a decently plausible theory, moreso than plenty of the theories that get thrown around.
Aeron hates Euron with a burning passion, and while we could ascribe that purely to Euron’s sacrilege and affronts to the Ironborn way of life, it is not hard to speculate that something deeper and more specific drives his contempt. The rusty hinge is a recurring, ever-present memory for Aeron, something that haunts him ceaselessly. It is tied to Euron; almost every thought or mention of him brings the sound of a creaking hinge back to the Damphair. Since childhood, he has felt weak, inadequate, lacking.
Where do all these signs point? To me, it means a memory of Euron, stealing into Aeron’s room at night during their youth to molest him and possibly Urrigon as well, the familiar creaking of the hinge on the door as he entered becoming imprinted on a young Aeron’s mind. It leaves him with symptoms common to victims of molestation; he blames himself—his weakness—for what happened, as well as despising Euron ever since, and his life has been driven by a desire to escape those feelings of weakness, which might explain the turn toward devoutness and zealotry he has taken in his later years. Hence his constant insistence to himself about how serious and committed he is, how nothing and no one can frighten him or stand against him, and how the man he was before is dead and he is a newer, stronger, more fearless person.
And here’s another thing.
In the books, this was Robb’s process re Jeyne:
- captures her castle and is wounded, she treats him
- finds out about his brothers’ apparent deaths
- emotionally overwrought, seeks comfort in her
- having had sex with a highborn virgin and possibly gotten her pregnant, decides to do the the honorable thing by marrying her
- (at some point, falls in love too)
- loses the Freys because of his emotional mistake and his honorIn the show, this is the process:
- falls in love with Talisa-Jeyne because she’s not like all the other girls
- does not find out about his brothers (in fact it’s specifically called out in the episode that Theon is trying to keep news of their “deaths” from spreading)
- has sex with her because they’re so in love
- (most likely) marries her because they’re so in love [seriously, with an older, maturer Jeyne who is (a) probably not a virgin*, (b) most likely not going to get pregnant, (c) even if she did would not have the “shame” problems book-Jeyne did, the only likely reason they’ll marry is because of love]
- loses the Freys because who wouldn’t love a girl who’s not like all the other girls and, well, romance!
This misses the point of the books by a mile. It’s playing tropes straight, showing Robb as a Romantic Hero in Love, with Talisa as a Girl Not Like All the Rest. And it loses what could have been a valuable point (made in the last episode) about how vows and honor make things “too much”. Yes, I can see it dealing with the show’s point of “the more you love the weaker you are”, but… sigh…
I’m not saying this as a “book purist”. I don’t mind that the show is changing some things up for adaptation purposes. I don’t even mind the shift of “honor makes you stupid” to “love makes you stupid” in Robb’s story. But, honestly, I really preferred the books’ point of how doing the right thing can kill you in the end. It was Ned’s lesson, it’s Robb’s lesson, it’s kind of the whole Stark honor theme right there. (I suppose, technically, Ned also died partially because of love of his family, but it was his honor that put him in the situation where his family love could be used against him.)
For that matter, they’ve brought in the “love makes you stupid” into Cat’s story too, which is totally missing her point. But who wants to bet on, because Robb is a Man in Love whereas Cat is a Mother Who Loves Her Children, where the audience sympathies will go? Just… sigh.
And note, this is not blaming the actors, who are doing the best job they can with the material they have. Just the writing and the showrunners’ choices.
*I swear to god I’m not slut-shaming, and I do like Talisa-Jeyne’s apparent character (although I am waiting for the other shoe to drop already) and if she’s not a virgin goddamn good for her. I’m just pointing out that the Westerosi patriarchy places a high price on virgin brides and that Robb having sex with book-Jeyne “ruined” her (especially if she became pregnant), and that tv-Jeyne-Talisa does not apparently have such a conflict with her “free woman of Volantis” role and all.