manchester_babe

Why do people hate Sansa?

165 posts in this topic

My big beef with her is that she is a snob. "Arya would be friends with anyone"

For me what also plays in is the frustration-level, not at Sansa really but at her situation pretty much all the time. It starts with her love for Joffy and it pretty much never ends. No other character is even close to conveying that level of stress and frustration. Except maybe Dany's weddings. Reading Sansa is reading through an animal caught in a trap and I think all this frustration spills over on Sansa. At least for me :D

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27 minutes ago, YOVMO said:

Why do people hate Sansa Stark? Maybe because in some way she holds up a mirror to the ignorance and simplicity of the reader who hates her.

Well said! 

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The reason for the hate is lack of understanding and exposure to this kind of archetype in fantasy fiction.  The fandom don't recognise her and so don't engage with her except on a very superficial level.

She's a young female of the dominant class who believes in the structure and values of the society she's been brought up in.  She's been groomed to please, to charm, to obey, to place high value on her looks and to marry well.  She's never had any reason to doubt authority figures in her life, she naively assumes they have her best interests at heart.  In fact, a big part of her success so far has been about pleasing authority and getting them on side (look at how she plays her Septa).   

Marrying the prince is literally the highest prize society has conditioned her to seek.  Dangling that in front of her is like the holy grail of achievement.  In wedding Joffrey, she would be 'successful' on societies terms beyond her wildest dreams.  No wonder she's obsessed by it.     

This kind of character is practically unknown in fantasy, or totally consigned to the background.  I have a PhD in 18th century literature though and it's choc full of Sansas.  And personally I find that (sometimes very slow and internalized) character arc, of maturation, growing self reliance and questioning the values she's been raised with to be hugely enjoyable.

Everything Sansa gets grief for (clinging to the dream of Joffrey as the benevolent prince, opening her heart to Cersei, ragging on Arya) I find to be totally understandable and in keeping with a character of her personality and station.  She doesn't for a moment anticipate the consequences of telling Cersei Ned's plans.  She assumes that there's been some confusion and the reasonable, 'on side' grownups will sort it out.

What I find most ironic though is that Sansa gets pilloried for exactly the same mistake that Ned gets more forgiveness for - treating Cersei like a fair, reasonable person.  In fact, of all of Ned's children, I think she's most like him.  A little slow to grasp what's going on around her, too attached to values that she holds dear (Ned's honour and Sansa's courtesy).  What I really hope is that her traumatic experience has prompted the kind of growth that Ned never realised and she will finish this series as the kind of brilliant, astute player of the game of thrones that Ned singularly failed to be. 

 

 

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8 hours ago, Pikachu101 said:

Deep down people know if they were in her shoes they'd behave the exact same way and that annoys them. 

5 hours ago, YOVMO said:

Why do people hate Sansa Stark? Maybe because in some way she holds up a mirror to the ignorance and simplicity of the reader who hates her.

 

That was a thing I had thought about before too when writing my post. Folk psych wisdom claims we have a tendency to dislike people that show weaknesses we see (or fear we see) in ourselves. And right now her character is up to the brim in apparent weaknesses and has still left us wanting to see her demonstrate some strengths to balance it out. She hasn't had a shining moment of badassery yet, in my opinion. I won't go into detail but her released TWoW chapter has already hinted for us that she is definitely continuing to grow.

 

8 hours ago, Pikachu101 said:

Has a lot to do with the amount of hate female characters get in comparison to their male counterparts, fans of these female characters are constantly on the defensive because of the blind hatred targeted towards them.

I mean, I see what you're saying. My big question has always been why this is... why it's easier to point out the mistakes of women than the equally disastrous mistakes of men. That probably deserves its own topic though.

5 hours ago, LaurieMarlow said:

The reason for the hate is lack of understanding and exposure to this kind of archetype in fantasy fiction.  The fandom don't recognise her and so don't engage with her except on a very superficial level.

She's a young female of the dominant class who believes in the structure and values of the society she's been brought up in.  She's been groomed to please, to charm, to obey, to place high value on her looks and to marry well.  She's never had any reason to doubt authority figures in her life, she naively assumes they have her best interests at heart.  In fact, a big part of her success so far has been about pleasing authority and getting them on side (look at how she plays her Septa).   
 

Very well put.

5 hours ago, LaurieMarlow said:

This kind of character is practically unknown in fantasy, or totally consigned to the background.

 

I find this really interesting and thought-provoking. It makes me recall how GRRM once explained why he chose Catelyn as a POV:

"I wanted to make a strong mother character. The portrayal women in epic fantasy have been problematical for a long time. These books are largely written by men but women also read them in great, great numbers. And the women in fantasy tend to be very atypical women… They tend to be the woman warrior or the spunky princess who wouldn’t accept what her father lays down, and I have those archetypes in my books as well. However, with Catelyn there is something reset for the Eleanor of Aquitaine, the figure of the woman who accepted her role and functions with a narrow society and, nonetheless, achieves considerable influence and power and authority despite accepting the risks and limitations of this society. She is also a mother… Then, a tendency you can see in a lot of other fantasies is to kill the mother or to get her off the stage. She’s usually dead before the story opens… Nobody wants to hear about King Arthur’s mother and what she thought or what she was doing, so they get her off the stage and I wanted it too. And that’s Catelyn."

So Sansa would be another example of a woman that is, like you said, typical and traditionally consigned to the background in fantasy.

Edited by Traverys

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1 hour ago, Traverys said:

I mean, I see what you're saying. My big question has always been why this is... why it's easier to point out the mistakes of women than the equally disastrous mistakes of men. That probably deserves its own topic though.

Sexism, you see it in everything whether it's a fantasy novel or real life; women are always attacked for the same thing men would be either rewarded for or defended. 

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Another reason for the Sansa hate and character hate in general that I’ve noticed about here and there is the idea of blaming one character because their favorite character(s) didn’t have the arc that the reader wanted or that their favorite plot idea(s) didn’t happen because of that character. Sometimes the character hate exists even if the other character just threatens the favored character arc or plot.

Some readers completely forget that the books aren’t real and that every character is exactly where they’re supposed to be because there’s a real-life guy in New Mexico who says so and he has his reasons for making those choices.

When this is the case, it’s basically anger at the author/books projected onto the more-accessible character as if the character were real.

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On 10/23/2017 at 5:16 PM, Universal Sword Donor said:

Because they are not mutually exclusive and the lengths and horrors she was subjected to should engender some kind of revenge motive in 99% of people. Were I her, I'd move heaven and earth to make sure Joff and Cersei suffered at length to atone for what they'd done do me. Then again, I am a grown man and not a 12 year old girl. 

I'm not contesting here. I think you made a good point here and I'd like to expand on that.

Sansa did have a revenge response. But that said, there's a massive distance between wanting revenge but deciding to not pursue it for whatever reason (cost is too high/it wouldn't really change anything/etc) and giving up everything in your life (including good things or the hope for good things in the future or in Sansa's case here, literally her life) in pursuit of revenge. Sansa saw caring from an unexpected place in Sandor and Sansa made her choice.

I have a problem with the idea being floated about (not by yourself as you expressed it as a personal choice) that revenge is always right but all other reactions must be wrong somehow. It's a matter of personal choice and personal priorities. Instead of a knee-jerk "Woohoo! Badassery!" response to revenge, I think the reader is supposed to do a cost-benefit analysis on the specific revenge in question, just for a start.

 

AGOT Sansa VI

 

Sansa made herself smile, afraid that he would have Ser Meryn hit her again if she did not, but it was no good, the king still shook his head. "Wipe off the blood, you're all messy."

 

The outer parapet came up to her chin, but along the inner edge of the walk was nothing, nothing but a long plunge to the bailey seventy or eighty feet below. All it would take was a shove, she told herself. He was standing right there, right there, smirking at her with those fat wormlips. You could do it, she told herself. You could. Do it right now. It wouldn't even matter if she went over with him. It wouldn't matter at all.

 

"Here, girl." Sandor Clegane knelt before her, between her and Joffrey. With a delicacy surprising in such a big man, he dabbed at the blood welling from her broken lip.

 

The moment was gone. Sansa lowered her eyes. "Thank you," she said when he was done. She was a good girl, and always remembered her courtesies.

 

 

 

Edited by Lollygag

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What fascinates me about Sansa discussions is the venom and the defense.

The way I read the character is that she is a selfish self centered child much like her sister. They both survive their situations.

Both characters have experienced their trials and tribulations.

 

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2 hours ago, Clegane'sPup said:

The way I read the character is that she is a selfish self centered child much like her sister. They both survive their situations.

Now wait a minute! Where do you get that Arya is "selfish and self-centered"? This is the Arya that, traveling with the Night's Guard recruits, bonds with the boys who tormented her, fights beside them, leads the little group of survivors to safety and thence from one captivity to another, never giving up. The Arya who runs back into a burning barn to get an axe to help the three vicious murderers from the black cells to free themselves. The Arya who insists on carrying the Crying Girl (Weasel) to safety from the flames. The Arya who (perhaps unwisely) selects men for assassination because of their cruelty and injustice, and not always to herself. The Arya who dedicates herself to study and work at the House of Black & White, regardless of how hard it is, and follows the requests of the Kindly Man and any civilian he assigns her to work for.

Explain to me where "selfishness" comes in, because I seem to have missed it.

Or is this just the "both siderism" that's become endemic?   ;-)

Edited by zandru

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4 hours ago, zandru said:

Now wait a minute! Where do you get that Arya is "selfish and self-centered"? This is the Arya that, traveling with the Night's Guard recruits, bonds with the boys who tormented her, fights beside them, leads the little group of survivors to safety and thence from one captivity to another, never giving up. The Arya who runs back into a burning barn to get an axe to help the three vicious murderers from the black cells to free themselves. The Arya who insists on carrying the Crying Girl (Weasel) to safety from the flames. The Arya who (perhaps unwisely) selects men for assassination because of their cruelty and injustice, and not always to herself. The Arya who dedicates herself to study and work at the House of Black & White, regardless of how hard it is, and follows the requests of the Kindly Man and any civilian he assigns her to work for.

Explain to me where "selfishness" comes in, because I seem to have missed it.

Or is this just the "both siderism" that's become endemic?   ;-)

Of course Sansa is self centered. And, I'll grant the selfish bit, but following on @Clegane'sPup ...

Sansa and Arya share similar archs in their development. They are both, disturbingly, jolted out of their jolly existence of pampered children. Sansa has the archtypical daydreams of becoming a princess - while Arya wants to be a fighter,

None the less, they both go through their individual hells. Arya has an odyssey of continuous challenges, physical and existential. And Sansa has a similar odyssey in the realm of survival in a court dominated by the psychopath, her betrothed, and Jeoffrey's mother whose advise his... dubious.

Both go through a similar arch that makes each of them strong.

Oopsie, I see that it is an anti-Sansa thread - Hmm, she is the "good girl" that will tell tales to the teacher about meaningless stuff in middle school.

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I imagine much of it is because of the series' genre and because she isn't the sole POV character. It's hard not to become frustrated with her when she's so much more passive compared to other characters, and when she takes so much longer to figure things out. I mean, the other young protagonists around the same age are gaming adults, getting magic powers, and commanding battles. There's a reason protagonists tend to be exceptional people, especially in fantasy.

A personal annoyance of mine is that she has these bouts of pride after finally learning a lesson, where she thinks she's got it all figured out and everyone else is a fool. Even now, she thinks Sweet Robin is a naive "little fool", even though he's well aware that several people are eagerly awaiting his death - something that Sansa has yet to realise. I get that she's extremely proud of herself for the smallest accomplishments because she has a battered self esteem, but man, is it frustrating.

On 10/24/2017 at 5:42 PM, Traverys said:

I'm inclined to say that gender and gender roles can play into this, especially in the case of Sansa. I could be rusty, but she seems to be the only female POV character that seems to always strictly sticks to the expected boundaries of women regarding what they could say or do. "Planetos" is a world where violence is, more often than not, the way problems end up being solved. Women being confined to domestic duties and being untrained in battle means that they aren't given the same tools for survival that their male counterparts get. With that said, it's not hard to see why Brienne, Arya, and Asha make for really interesting female characters; they swim upstream against societal expectations.

I think it's a lot more complex than just feminine female characters getting hate. There is certainly a disdain for feminine qualities, both in male and female characters, but there's also still a lot hate and backlash for "masculine" females. I've noticed it's quite strong in the fandoms of "girly girl" characters - there's always a segment of the fandom who likes the character because they are good girls who don't challenge traditional gender norms. And then there are the female characters who are feminine but try to exert power or take up traditionally male roles, like Dany, Cersei, and Catelyn, who really get on people's nerves. They probably have it the worst.

I guess the take away is: female characters of all types have an uphill battle when it comes to likeability.

Edited by Hodor the Articulate

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On 10/23/2017 at 3:38 PM, Caterina Sforza said:

As I said, I have no love for her but this is unfair, IMO. She was not the reason why Ned was killed. Nobody could prevent that and Joffrey would've killed him no matter what.

To be honest, they would have safely left on the ship if not for Sansa.  

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6 hours ago, zandru said:

Or is this just the "both siderism" that's become endemic?   ;-)

 

 

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With Sansa he's trying to turn her into a Lannister without anyone realising it. The idea is that everything Sansa does is a logical progression in the game of thrones and within reason, not at all villainous, and then next minute she's considering ordering the murder of babies and the reader is there with her thinking "yeah that's just what has to happen here." Only for Sansa and the reader to realise at some point that we've become the baddies.

So there's hate coming from those who are catching the beginnings of this, the faint glimmers from the veins of gold running through the pure white marble.

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22 minutes ago, chrisdaw said:

With Sansa he's trying to turn her into a Lannister without anyone realising it.

That might have been his original plan because asoiaf was meant to be a trilogy, but George scrapped this ages ago along with Jon/Arya. From all of her siblings Sansa's the most like Ned the only difference is she was broken from a young age and couldn't hold onto these ideals like her father could, if anything I'd say she's slowly turning into a hybrid of both her parents. 

Edited by Pikachu101

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34 minutes ago, chrisdaw said:

With Sansa he's trying to turn her into a Lannister without anyone realising it. The idea is that everything Sansa does is a logical progression in the game of thrones and within reason, not at all villainous, and then next minute she's considering ordering the murder of babies and the reader is there with her thinking "yeah that's just what has to happen here." Only for Sansa and the reader to realise at some point that we've become the baddies.

So there's hate coming from those who are catching the beginnings of this, the faint glimmers from the veins of gold running through the pure white marble.

Jon is tossing out his oath (for reasons), forcing babies from their mothers (for reasons) and is going into blind murder-rages , Bran is torture-skinchanging Hodor (for reasons), most of Arya’s arc (again, reasons), and Rickon has strong hints of allying with enemies in the future against his own family who he’s been raging against for abandoning them. So why does this only apply to Sansa again?

Sorry, I just see lots of set up all of the Stark kids to go dark-side, or at least dance on the edge of it.

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14 minutes ago, Lollygag said:

I just see lots of set up all of the Stark kids to go dark-side, or at least dance on the edge of it.

That would be an interesting turn of events 

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1 hour ago, chrisdaw said:

With Sansa he's trying to turn her into a Lannister without anyone realising it. The idea is that everything Sansa does is a logical progression in the game of thrones and within reason, not at all villainous, and then next minute she's considering ordering the murder of babies and the reader is there with her thinking "yeah that's just what has to happen here." Only for Sansa and the reader to realise at some point that we've become the baddies.

So there's hate coming from those who are catching the beginnings of this, the faint glimmers from the veins of gold running through the pure white marble.

I feel like this is more descriptive of Daenerys' closing arc than Sansa's. If I understand you correctly, it's the idea of a sympathetic antagonist or villain. We understand and empathize with them, but realize that the things they choose to do have tip-toed across a line of villainy somewhere along the way. But perhaps he wishes to explore it in more than one character.

24 minutes ago, Lollygag said:

Jon is tossing out his oath (for reasons), forcing babies from their mothers (for reasons) and is going into blind murder-rages , Bran is torture-skinchanging Hodor (for reasons), most of Arya’s arc (again, reasons), and Rickon has strong hints of allying with enemies in the future against his own family who he’s been raging against for abandoning them. So why does this only apply to Sansa again?

 

Sorry, I just see lots of set up all of the Stark kids to go dark-side, or at least dance on the edge of it.

Well said. But I would it extend it to all characters dance on the edge of this... but some more than other so far. Brienne is being a little on the treacherous (dishonorable) side by luring Jaime into a trap, Tyrion... well we all know about Tyrion's currently personality these days, Jaime telling Edmure he'd fling his baby in a catapault over the walls of Riverrun, etc.

Edited by Traverys

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58 minutes ago, Lollygag said:

Jon is tossing out his oath (for reasons), forcing babies from their mothers (for reasons) and is going into blind murder-rages , Bran is torture-skinchanging Hodor (for reasons), most of Arya’s arc (again, reasons), and Rickon has strong hints of allying with enemies in the future against his own family who he’s been raging against for abandoning them. So why does this only apply to Sansa again?

 

Sorry, I just see lots of set up all of the Stark kids to go dark-side, or at least dance on the edge of it.

Jon and Arya catch flack, Bran too but his age is hard to get past to lay blame at his feet for most people. You're probably right that it is disproportionately apparent in Sansa's case because people dislike her for other reasons.

But to add to that, compared to what Jon and Arya are doing the game of thrones and Lannister ways are more self orientated. You see Hodor the Articulate's post highlighting her pride, and they're not wrong, it very much is deliberate and meaningful, and it's pure Lannister.

There's Cersei and Littlefinger, two characters we know to be arseholes, and we can see them in Sansa's growth. In comparison the FM and Jon's father figures are not nearly as clear cut baddies as those two (the father figures aren't bad, just wrong, and the curtain hasn't been pulled on the FM yet).

And people are Stark fans generally, and even if they're not fans the Starks are sold as the good guys, and the stuff Jon and Arya are doing is not outside of the Stark's characteristics as we learn them at the start of the series. The north remembers, the north executes deserters, the north are friends of the NW, Ned holds a child's life above all else. The north and the Starks don't play the game of thrones.

Also Jon's arc unlike the rest isn't a smooth ride, there will be a before and after death and the two will be very different, so he's not so developed on his arsehole side.

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