I’m always amazed at the hatred or, at best, lazy analysis of his motivations and behaviour that Jorah provokes.
As Jorah is not a POV character in ASOIAF, readers can only judge him through his words and actions which are seen through other characters’ eyes. The television show provides a greater lens to look at him through as it grants the audience scenes featuring him, sometimes independent of Daenerys. One of my favourite things about the GoT adaptation has been the audience learning of Jorah’s love for Dany before she’s aware of it, before he’s aware of it. Little moments like his jealousy as Drogo and Dany shared an embrace in S1 were hints along the way of how strongly he felt, in addition to turning down a pardon (in another instance of the difference between book and screen, his conflicting emotions on receiving it were evident). Simply, there was no opportunity to gauge his thoughts or reactions in ASOIAF unless A) he shared them with Dany or B) she noticed them.
As this is ASOIAF. I dare you to find me a character with any notable amount of book time that is free from flaws. Now, I am not going to try and defend Jorah by pointing out the bad decisions and mistakes of others. No. I will merely say that there seems to be many in the fandom who want to simplify the characters into good and bad. Any ugly side to their personality automatically equates to villainy and vice versa. I find Jorah particularly human because his biggest strength, how strongly he loves, is also his biggest flaw, to the point he does foolish and reckless acts (what else would you call losing a lordship, ruining his House financially, running off with his wife when they’re already in an unhappy relationship, attempting to return to Daenerys despite her promise of death if he didn’t obey her command to leave, to name just a few) in the name of it. He sold two men into slavery. He agreed to betray two homeless, penniless, young orphans, initially. For love of his wife and his home, respectively. These two actions are considered, by most, to represent Jorah at his worst. His stance on slavery is used as an example of how terrible he is, with the suggestion that he is all for it. The following passage is often taken as proof of that:
"I’ve told the khal he ought to make for Meereen," Ser Jorah said. "They’ll pay a better price than he’d get from a slaving caravan. Illyrio writes that they had a plague last year, so the brothels are paying double for healthy young girls and triple for boys under ten. If enough children survive the journey, the gold will buy us all the ships we need, and hire men to sail them." - AGOT.
If Jorah was purely a pragmatic person, he would have stuck to his original plan with Illyrio and not changed course for an inexperienced princess (as Dany was at that time). Yet he has had to be practical enough to survive his exile. Lecturing Essosi on how Westerosi do things would not have gone down well, I imagine. Is this really Jorah’s personal opinion? It’s just as likely he’s merely advising, which is his purpose there, is it not? In the same book, he also says
"…the Dothraki look on these things differently than we do in the west." - AGOT.
Jorah’s such a wonderfully contradictory character because he’s a real mix of outwardly justifying his actions through blaming other people like Ned Stark
"He took from me all I loved, for the sake of a few liceridden poachers and his precious honor," Ser Jorah said bitterly. - AGOT
but it’s clear that inwardly he harbours regret and guilt too
"I have done things I’m not proud of, things that brought shame onto my House and my father’s name…" - ADWD.
For me, Jorah is a true George RR Martin creation. In the words of the author himself
"I don’t like fantasy where everybody is either a hero or a villain, black or white. I prefer to paint with shades of grey. I think it’s more true to life. We’re all of us angels and demons in the same skin. We do good things and the next day we maybe do terrible things." (x)
Does the fact he was in love and wanted to please his wife make his choices excusable? Or how about because he was lonely and desperate to return home? Of course not. But it also isn’t impossible to understand why Jorah did what he did. Just because he’s caused his own misery (on multiple occasions!) doesn’t make him any less deserving of an accurate character study than anyone else.