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Sansa + Ned: What’s the Difference?

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I’d like to preface this by saying that I’m not looking to have the “usual” debate about aGoT Sansa, so, if possible, I’d like to refrain from heated discussions about who’s guilty for what and so forth. This isn’t a thread about exonerating Sansa’s actions.



Instead, I wanted to look at a more structural issue: the crafting of introductory character biases. To be clear, I don’t think introductory bias is inherently problematic, and actually, I’d argue that this is exactly what Martin’s trying to accomplish at the beginning of the series. There are a few characters that are established as highly sympathetic protagonists, and there’s a tendency to develop opinions about other characters by virtue of whether or not they’re at odds with these “core heroes.” I think Jon, Tyrion and Arya belong in this “core hero at first impressions” category, but most of all, I believe Ned exemplifies this role best. Our early identification with, and sympathy for, Ned as a “core hero” is part of what helps us navigate through the action, both in terms of the plot and in setting up our moral compass. I don’t believe there’s anything inherently wrong with this, and I think this was largely intentional; our faith in Ned as a paragon influences our reading of the whole series.



I could have chosen any two characters for this exercise, but I’m looking at Sansa and Ned because, objectively speaking, their aGoT arcs are almost perfect foils of each other, yet our reactions to them are so divergent. That is, in reality, they do exactly the same things, but this fact doesn’t come across that way; it feels different to us as readers.



I’d like to unpack some of the reasons we see Sansa and Ned’s aGoT arcs to differently, and perhaps explore why Martin may have cultivated such divergent reactions. Again, this isn’t about exonerating or condemning either character, but to think about why we perceive their actions so differently, despite being the same actions.



To illustrate this, let me list out Ned and Sansa’s actions in relation to the Stark-Lannister divide:



Ned (in order of occurrence)


  1. Agrees to betroth Sansa to Jof
  2. Has a major fight with Robert about whether to kill Dany; killing children was the cause of a major rift between the two in the past
  3. Has an argument with Robert about Lannister influence; Ned sees the Lannisters as a threat, and believes Robert is compromised
  4. The Trident incident; Sansa tells him the truth that night
  5. Arya is found and a trial is called; he calls for Sansa to testify
  6. Sansa says she doesn’t remember to avoid testimony; Ned knows Sansa’s truth and doesn’t step in; Joffrey outright lies; Robert dismisses the case
  7. Cersei calls for a wolf pelt; Ned pleads with Robert; Robert succumbs to Cersei and condemns the wolf
  8. Ned kills the wolf while he is alone, and sends the carcass back to Winterfell; no proof of the kill was needed
  9. Despite knowing the truth of the Trident and Joffrey’s nature, that Robert sided with Cersei at the expense of his family, and looming danger, Ned does not rethink the betrothal, and continues with his daughters to KL.
  10. Ned learns about the attempt on Bran’s life; he’s convinced the Lannisters are trying to kill his children; he doesn’t send his daughters back home
  11. Has another major fight with Robert about killing "dragonspawn;" quits the Hand position
  12. Jaime attacks Ned in the street; Robert brushes it off, makes him Hand again and goes hunting; Ned doesn’t send his daughters back
  13. Ned realizes Cersei’s treason; Ned informs his daughters they will be leaving but does not explain why
  14. Ned confronts Cersei before making arrangements for his own daughters
  15. Robert makes Ned Lord Protector; Ned rejects Renly’s offer to secure Cersei’s children to protect his own family
  16. Sansa goes to Cersei (may be interchangeable with #15)
  17. Robert dies; Ned, believing the City Watch is behind him because he trusts LF, refuses to bend for Jof the next morning in court, and is arrested
  18. Varys tells Ned of Sansa’s plea in court to spare his life, and Ned decides to recant his “treason;” he’s executed anyway.

Sansa (in order of occurrence)


  1. Sansa is told she will marry the price, which has been her dream
  2. Joffrey charms her; she isn’t privy to the sword practice where his true colors come out; Cersei and Myrcella fawn over her
  3. Joffrey charms Sansa during the Trident (and “rescues” her beforehand from Illyn); Jof and Sansa get drunk; his ugly side comes out for the first time in front of her during the Arya fight
  4. Sansa tells her father the truth afterwards; she’s still supposed to marry Jof
  5. Arya is found and Robert calls a trial; she refuses to testify by lying that she doesn’t remember what happened
  6. Cersei persists and Robert calls for the death of Sansa’s innocent wolf
  7. At the Hand’s tourney, Jof charms her again, and she’s back in love with him
  8. She has a spat with Arya and blames Arya/ Mycah for Lady
  9. Ned announces they will be returning to Winterfell; Sansa is beside herself
  10. Sansa goes to Cersei
  11. Ned is arrested and Sansa is held captive; Cersei sends for her to write letters to her family, under the pretense that they will help save her family
  12. Sansa pleads to Joffrey in court to spare Ned’s life
  13. Ned is killed; Sansa contemplates suicide; she then tries to kill Joffrey

Both Sansa and Ned make choices that inadvertently strengthen the Lannister’s position while undermining the Stark one. In both cases they naively seem to put trust into undeserving parties: Ned with Robert, Sansa with Jof, and both with Cersei.



Ned and Sansa both know the truth of the Trident, but neither speaks. After the case is dismissed, Ned kills Lady personally. It comes across as an honorable act by a man who obeys his king, but is it truly? Aside from the fact that Ned could have sent Lady back to Winterfell alive just as easily (no proof was needed), is it really so honorable to knowingly kill an innocent party because your king commanded you to? A king who just made it very clear he is neither concerned with justice or your own welfare? Is this not a case of siding with Stark-antagonists?



Arguably, Ned has seen considerably more of Robert’s “ugly side” than Sansa has of Jof’s; since leaving Winterfell, Ned and Robert have been arguing, and the Trident stands as a concrete manifestation of how the winds were blowing. After knowing how little Robert could be counted on, and how unsuitable Joffrey was for Sansa, why do we see Ned’s decision to continue to KL and follow-through with the marriage in a more positive light than Sansa’s renewed “love” for Jof when he begins charming her again? Especially considering that Ned has 17 years of political and military experience under his belt?



When Ned goes to Cersei, he’s fully aware of how dire the situation is; she’s guilty of high treason. He goes to her in order to gain confession and let her get a head start so that she can secure the safety of her own children. And he does this, knowing how serious the charges are, before securing the safety of his daughters. He is, quite literally, putting Lannister children before his own. Yet, why do we see Sansa’s appeal to Cersei, when she has no idea of the situation and thinks there’s been some small misunderstanding, as more egregious than Ned’s actions here? Why does she come across as a “betrayer,” while Ned remains our “core hero”?




In many ways, I believe Sansa is written almost as Ned’s “patsy” throughout aGoT: a character that attracts our ire for Ned’s mistakes, allowing us to continue viewing him as an unquestioned “core hero.” From the outset, Martin crafts the impression that Starks are “good” and sympathetic, and that everyone who is opposed to them are the “bad guys.” Martin aligns Sansa with the “bad guys” via her desire to be loved and accepted by the Lannisters, and seemingly eschewing the rough and tumble “Starkness” we associate with “good.”



In some ways, Sansa is crafted almost like an antagonist to Ned; her actions are largely set up as rebellions against her father. Which is damning in terms of character perception, because Ned is our great sympathetic good guy. Yet, in objective truth, Ned is the one Stark who continuously puts Robert and the Lannister interests ahead of his own family. There’s an extremely interesting dynamic going on here: Ned constantly goes against his own family unintentionally, which comes across as heroic and sympathetic, while Sansa goes against Ned, and it comes across as evil and disloyal.



For further thought, given that we’ve had 4 more books that expand Sansa’s character, revealing her to be deeply loyal to and proud of her “Starkness” and Winterfell, draws strength from her memory of the North, and even rebuilds a replica of the broken castle, is this early negative impression of her as “more Lannister than Stark” part of a long con Martin’s playing? A kind of subversion of expectations that the Stark who seemed least interested in her heritage may be the one to restore it?




ETA: Please note the scope of this thread is aGoT only, specifically focused on Sansa and Ned's parallel actions. Please don't jump ahead to future books. Thanks.


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Interesting stuff lemoncakes!

I admit I just skimmed it(it's super long brah) but I agree with the gist of what your saying.

Ok I finished reading. Yeah, I fully agree. I think people just don't realize this because the write Sansa off as being just a little girl. As compared to Ned who is a war hero.

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As usual, interestingly controversial thread... Truly wonderful work, bumps...



Now, in attempt to have a good, productive debate about this, let me state where I think is the problem. The distinction between Ned and Sansa is actually, and perhaps most importantly, in order of appearance. Ned is one of the first POVs, and the previous chapters look at him as a paragon of honor and duty. He is introduced through Bran's and later Cat's eyes, and as such, our first impression is filled with love and much admiration. Sansa, on the other hand, is introduced rather lately, on the Kingsroad, and before that we got two POVs that hasn't worked on her being lovable. Arya's POV is extremely influential in our first assessment of Sansa as a character. And the fact Arya disliked Sansa that much in her first POV made some of us a bit pro-Arya, even though, objectively Arya is not right about many things regarding Sansa. Simply, the girls are different, and as any normal sisters, they do fight. Plus, we got the sympathetic "underdog" POV in Jon, and Sansa committed cardinal sin of calling him "half brother". All of this may be trifles, but by the time we get to Sansa's POV, we are supposed to cheer for Arya, and be against her obvious opposite - Sansa.



The other problem in differentiation of these two is in fact, who they are siding with. Robert is introduced through Ned's subjective view as a good man, someone you should admire, a true hero, a liberator from Targaryen madness... So, even when Robert does something wrong, like wanting Daenerys dead, or ordering Lady's death, Ned does superb job in either justifying him or deflecting the guilt. Sansa, on the other hand, has sided with Joffrey, who was marked as problematic by the two POVs we have already grown to love - Jon and Arya, those two underdogs in the family. So, comparing the two pairs, we actually in many ways understand Ned, but are totally clueless about Sansa. Ned's support for Robert seems natural, even acceptable, while Sansa gets the hate for even being in love in Joffrey.



Bumps, this is truly impressive OP, and I hope we will have a good debate about this...


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Really great post which puts to truth the plot line. The below part ties into Mladen's post regarding the wolf pack theme.

For further thought, given that weve had 4 more books that expand Sansas character, revealing her to be deeply loyal to and proud of her Starkness and Winterfell, draws strength from her memory of the North, and even rebuilds a replica of the broken castle, is this early negative impression of her as more Lannister than Stark part of a long con Martins playing? A kind of subversion of expectations that the Stark who seemed least interested in her heritage may be the one to restore it?

Yeah I really love that wolf stuff, so illuminating!

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The other problem in differentiation of these two is in fact, who they are siding with. Robert is introduced through Ned's subjective view as a good man, someone you should admire, a true hero, a liberator from Targaryen madness... So, even when Robert does something wrong, like wanting Daenerys dead, or ordering Lady's death, Ned does superb job in either justifying him or deflecting the guilt. Sansa, on the other hand, has sided with Joffrey, who was marked as problematic by the two POVs we have already grown to love - Jon and Arya, those two underdogs in the family. So, comparing the two pairs, we actually in many ways understand Ned, but are totally clueless about Sansa. Ned's support for Robert seems natural, even acceptable, while Sansa gets the hate for even being in love in Joffrey.

.

I do disagree that Ned justifies/deflects Robert. I think Robert deflects blame/guilt from himself to others in trying to justify himself. Ex being in the AGOT chapter where they ride out and argue over Dany then Warden of the East, etc. Ned has a helpless acceptance of Robert, but doesn't try and justify his pov. He makes no excuses for Robert, only remarking that this king was not the man he knew, which is the theme of their dynamic. He calls Robert out honestly (again with the trident situation, quitting as hand, etc), and we see Robert cowing to the skirts of Lannister, but not Ned giving justification.

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Neds #4 It is not certain that Sansa tells him the truth, If she does tell him the truth, and He then does not say anything about it... Well then no one would have liked Ned after that. It is why in the TV show it is made clear he does not talk with her.



Neds #8... Seriously butter...Of course Cercei would have required proof, it is left out for the dramatic effect of him killing Lady to end the Chapter.



Sansa #13 She does not attempt to kill Joffery. She had a moment where she could have killed him and let that moment slip.



Ned and Sansa both know the truth of the Trident, but neither speaks. After the case is dismissed, Ned kills Lady personally. It comes across as an honorable act by a man who obeys his king, but is it truly? Aside from the fact that Ned could have sent Lady back to Winterfell alive just as easily (no proof was needed), is it really so honorable to knowingly kill an innocent party because your king commanded you to? A king who just made it very clear he is neither concerned with justice or your own welfare? Is this not a case of siding with Stark-antagonists?


So we can dismiss this paragraph entirely.



Arguably, Ned has seen considerably more of Robert’s “ugly side” than Sansa has of Jof’s; since leaving Winterfell, Ned and Robert have been arguing, and the Trident stands as a concrete manifestation of how the winds were blowing. After knowing how little Robert could be counted on, and how unsuitable Joffrey was for Sansa, why do we see Ned’s decision to continue to KL and follow-through with the marriage in a more positive light than Sansa’s renewed “love” for Jof when he begins charming her again? Especially considering that Ned has 17 years of political and military experience under his belt?


This always bothered me. I feel Ned should have made a stand here, but Ned lets his sense of duty supersede his sense of family here.



When Ned goes to Cersei, he’s fully aware of how dire the situation is; she’s guilty of high treason. He goes to her in order to gain confession and let her get a head start so that she can secure the safety of her own children. And he does this, knowing how serious the charges are, before securing the safety of his daughters. He is, quite literally, putting Lannister children before his own. Yet, why do we see Sansa’s appeal to Cersei, when she has no idea of the situation and thinks there’s been some small misunderstanding, as more egregious than Ned’s actions here? Why does she come across as a “betrayer,” while Ned remains our “core hero”?


It goes to motive. Ned is being kind here, naive most certainly, but unselfishly kind. He does not know or understand the possible danger to his own children. He has no clue that Robert is going to die. Sansa on the other hand disobeys her father for her own petty gain in classic Disney Princess style. Except in this Version... Ned Loses his Head.



In many ways, I believe Sansa is written almost as Ned’s “patsy” throughout aGoT: a character that attracts our ire for Ned’s mistakes, allowing us to continue viewing him as an unquestioned “core hero.” From the outset, Martin crafts the impression that Starks are “good” and sympathetic, and that everyone who is opposed to them are the “bad guys.” Martin aligns Sansa with the “bad guys” via her desire to be loved and accepted by the Lannisters, and seemingly eschewing the rough and tumble “Starkness” we associate with “good.”


No, Sansa's arc in KL is a purposeful reality check on princess fairy tales. Its Disney Princess meet Reservoir Dogs.She disobeys her father to be with her love, only to find out that beautiful Cersei is the "Evil Queen", and that her gallant "Prince Charming" is vile and evil, and he executes her father. Every person Sansa considers beautiful in Kings Landing are cruel and evil, and the Ugly and Disfigured are kind and good. The Kings Guard all handsome knights who beat her, except the ugly, scarred, non knight, who is kind and gentle. This is capped off by one of GRRMs bitter ironys. Tyrion is everything Sansa could hope for in a husband at the time, except all those things are warped in the body of a stunted, ugly, man from the family that killed her father. It reinforces her skin deep judgments of people, and serves to frame her kings landing disney princess persona, where ugly = villain and beauty = trust worthy.



Ned finally betrays his own honor in an attempt to save his family, we have yet to see the same for Sansa. Her selfless redeeming act has been the saving of Dontos.


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@Morneblade .... Joffrey destroyed her disney princess persona. We see it crack in her first POV where at the end she sees the hate in his eyes. Afterwards, even when he is a charming prince at the tourney she has to convince herself of him. I think what you said regarding Tyrion being everything she wanted wrapped in the wrong package, delivered from the wrong place is valid, but I believe we see her skin deep judgements have already let her down grievously and she is aware. Her biggest objection to Tyrion isn't his dwarfism, but his reputation, that he is Lannister, and that she is being made a fool by Cersei.

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@Morneblade .... Joffrey destroyed her disney princess persona. We see it crack in her first POV where at the end she sees the hate in his eyes. Afterwards, even when he is a charming prince at the tourney she has to convince herself of him. I think what you said regarding Tyrion being everything she wanted wrapped in the wrong package, delivered from the wrong place is valid, but I believe we see her skin deep judgements have already let her down grievously and she is aware. Her biggest objection to Tyrion isn't his dwarfism, but his reputation, that he is Lannister, and that she is being made a fool by Cersei.

It's not just being a dwarf... His nose is missing also, he is hideous.

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<snip>

This always bothered me. I feel Ned should have made a stand here, but Ned lets his sense of duty supersede his sense of family here.
When Ned goes to Cersei, he’s fully aware of how dire the situation is; she’s guilty of high treason. He goes to her in order to gain confession and let her get a head start so that she can secure the safety of her own children. And he does this, knowing how serious the charges are, before securing the safety of his daughters. He is, quite literally, putting Lannister children before his own. Yet, why do we see Sansa’s appeal to Cersei, when she has no idea of the situation and thinks there’s been some small misunderstanding, as more egregious than Ned’s actions here? Why does she come across as a “betrayer,” while Ned remains our “core hero”?
It goes to motive. Ned is being kind here, naive most certainly, but unselfishly kind. He does not know or understand the possible danger to his own children. He has no clue that Robert is going to die. Sansa on the other hand disobeys her father for her own petty gain in classic Disney Princess style. Except in this Version... Ned Loses his Head.

There's some inconsistency here. In the previous paragraph, you state that it's bothered you that Ned doesn't make a stand, even when bumps pointed out that he does have double digits years of experience in military/strategy thinking, so how "does he not know or understand the possible danger to his own children"?

Ned knows what happened to Elia's children at the mercy of a Lannister, why should his children be spared? Because of Robert? Ned knows that Robert is neither infalliable (as evidence by the ordered death of Lady) nor immortal, so why his putting all his eggs into one basket?

This is a very clear mistake on Ned's part, and it has little to do with kindness or cluelessness.

In many ways, I believe Sansa is written almost as Ned’s “patsy” throughout aGoT: a character that attracts our ire for Ned’s mistakes, allowing us to continue viewing him as an unquestioned “core hero.” From the outset, Martin crafts the impression that Starks are “good” and sympathetic, and that everyone who is opposed to them are the “bad guys.” Martin aligns Sansa with the “bad guys” via her desire to be loved and accepted by the Lannisters, and seemingly eschewing the rough and tumble “Starkness” we associate with “good.”
No, Sansa's arc in KL is a purposeful reality check on princess fairy tales. Its Disney Princess meet Reservoir Dogs.She disobeys her father to be with her love, only to find out that beautiful Cersei is the "Evil Queen", and that her gallant "Prince Charming" is vile and evil, and he executes her father. Every person Sansa considers beautiful in Kings Landing are cruel and evil, and the Ugly and Disfigured are kind and good. The Kings Guard all handsome knights who beat her, except the ugly, scarred, non knight, who is kind and gentle. This is capped off by one of GRRMs bitter ironys. Tyrion is everything Sansa could hope for in a husband at the time, except all those things are warped in the body of a stunted, ugly, man from the family that killed her father. It reinforces her skin deep judgments of people, and serves to frame her kings landing disney princess persona, where ugly = villain and beauty = trust worthy.

Ned finally betrays his own honor in an attempt to save his family, we have yet to see the same for Sansa. Her selfless redeeming act has been the saving of Dontos.

You've outlined how Sansa's arc is "reality check on princess fairy tales"

you have not shown how it is not a story written to bolster Ned's heroism. I actually don't see any reason why it can't be both. Sansa's dislikeability makes Ned look a lot more heroic.

I don't see a problem at all as to why Sansa can't be both a story of reality vs. idealism/fairytales AND at the same time alienate a modern fantasy audience from her, pushing them closer to Ned.

digression

Modern audiences are sophisticated in the sense that they don't easily buy palatable fairy tales. They are also unsophisticated in the sense that they don't like strong women with traditionally feminine interests/values; it makes them uncomfortable. "You are free now, shouldn't you know better than to be into needlepoint?" raising the question, what exactly is wrong with needlepoint?

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Neds #4 It is not certain that Sansa tells him the truth, If she does tell him the truth, and He then does not say anything about it... Well then no one would have liked Ned after that. It is why in the TV show it is made clear he does not talk with her.

First of all, no TV evidence in here as it's the book forum.

Secondly, we know Sansa told him the truth because Ned reflects that Arya is telling the same story Sansa told him the night it happened.

Thirdly, how will Ned telling the truth he knows when Sansa shows she doesn't want to going to result in the logical conclusion of "no one would like him after that"? If telling the truth means that "no one will like you" afterwards, then when do we see Sansa as wrong and bad for not telling the truth? And if that really is the logical conclusion, why does Ned get a pass?

Neds #8... Seriously butter...Of course Cercei would have required proof, it is left out for the dramatic effect of him killing Lady to end the Chapter.

No, we know Cersei didn't get her proof. Ned explicitly goes to kill Lady himself so that "the Lannister woman does not get this pelt." Ned kills Lady in order to withhold Lady's body/ proof from Cersei. Ned kills Cersei, calls for Jory, and instructs Jory to put together a small guard to escort Lady's body back to Winterfell. There was no proof provided or needed.

Sansa #13 She does not attempt to kill Joffery. She had a moment where she could have killed him and let that moment slip.

She does attempt to push Joffrey from the walk. Sandor intercepts her before she can make it over to Joffrey.

So we can dismiss this paragraph entirely.

No, we really can't.

This always bothered me. I feel Ned should have made a stand here, but Ned lets his sense of duty supersede his sense of family here.

Yes, Ned's sense of duty makes this seem much more sympathetic. I'm not arguing that Ned is a "betrayer" for this or anything. Just to reflect on why we see their exact same actions so wildly differently.

It goes to motive. Ned is being kind here, naive most certainly, but unselfishly kind. He does not know or understand the possible danger to his own children. He has no clue that Robert is going to die. Sansa on the other hand disobeys her father for her own petty gain in classic Disney Princes style. Except in this Version... Ned Loses his Head.

See, these are exactly the biases I'm trying to unpack.

Neither Sansa nor Ned fully understands the gravity of the situation. Ned assumes that Cersei will put her children's lives before her desire for power, and warns her. Sansa assumes that there's a silly misunderstanding between her father and Cersei, her father won't answer any of her questions about it, and so she goes to Cersei to see if it can be rectified.

I find both of these actions forgivable in context. Sansa has no life experience except for what she learned in those "disney princess" songs (the modern equivalent would be for a HS senior to be told she has to go to community college after getting a full ride to Harvard). Ned does have 17 years of military and political experience when he makes this naive assumption out of human compassion. My question is why do we see this so differently? I mean, really think about for a second.

No, Sansa's arc in KL is a purposeful reality check on princess fairy tales. Its Disney Princess meet Reservoir Dogs.She disobeys her father to be with her love, only to find out that beautiful Cersei is the "Evil Queen", and that her gallant "Prince Charming" is vile and evil, and he executes her father. Every person Sansa considers beautiful in Kings Landing are cruel and evil, and the Ugly and Disfigured are kind and good. The Kings Guard all handsome knights who beat her, except the ugly, scarred, non knight, who is kind and gentle. This is capped off by one of GRRMs bitter ironys. Tyrion is everything Sansa could hope for in a husband at the time, except all those things are warped in the body of a stunted, ugly, man from the family that killed her father. It reinforces her skin deep judgments of people, and serves to frame her kings landing disney princess persona, where ugly = villain and beauty = trust worthy.

I think you're really missing a lot here.

Yes, part of Sansa's aGoT journey is realizing that "life is not a song." And she does begin this by thinking that beautiful = good, and other assorted nonsense.

But look at this as I've laid it out: Sansa and Ned do exactly the same things here, yet we're led to condemn Sansa for them while seeing Ned as a paragon of virtue for the same damn things.

It's so much easier to sympathize with Ned for these things, and for some reason, we continue to see Sansa as an enemy to her family by virtue of her rebellions to Ned.

But really, why Sansa more contemptible for falling for Joffrey than Ned is for trusting in Robert? Keep in mind that Sansa NEVER saw Jof's ugly side before the Trident. Right afterward, he was sweet to her once more. Then her father announces that they will be parted.

Ned saw more troubling patterns of behavior from Robert than Sansa ever saw of Joff until her father's execution. Not only did they have a massive fight 17 years ago about dragonspawn, but this very same issue comes up immediately when they're reunited, and Robert continuously displays behavior that Ned should understand as a warning sign.

What is it about these two that makes us see them so differently?

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Simple. Sansa can still wear hats.

a concise statement is not always equivalent to a quality argument

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Neds #4 It is not certain that Sansa tells him the truth, If she does tell him the truth, and He then does not say anything about it... Well then no one would have liked Ned after that. It is why in the TV show it is made clear he does not talk with her.

“They were not the only ones present,” Ned said. “Sansa, come here.” Ned had heard her version of the story the night Arya had vanished. He knew the truth. “Tell us what happened.”

Ned says this after Arya gives her account, so Ned is saying the story he had from Sansa corroborates it. She definitely told him the truth and he knows it.

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I think that while their decisions may have had the same unintended consequences(helping the Lannisters) I believe their intentions were radically different. Here in lies the problem for me, during aGoT I did not sympathize with Sansa at all for the most part. It wasn't until Ned was executed I began to really root for her. Sansa's decisions were guided by a single-minded pursuit of being with Joff(which she pays dearly for) and Ned's actions were spurred on by his sense of honor and duty. Also arguably no other character has been more punished and tormented more than Sansa, solely for the reason of being a Stark.


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I think that while their decisions may have had the same unintended consequences(helping the Lannisters) I believe their intentions were radically different. Here in lies the problem for me, during aGoT I did not sympathize with Sansa at all for the most part. It wasn't until Ned was executed I began to really root for her. Sansa's decisions were guided by a single-minded pursuit of being with Joff(which she pays dearly for) and Ned's actions were spurred on by his sense of honor and duty. Also arguably no other character has been more punished and tormented more than Sansa, solely for the reason of being a Stark.

There's truth to this, and I agree for the most part.

But largely, Sansa's behavior is motivated by duty as well. According to her worldview, being the queen is both the highest honor and duty a woman can make. She's torn between duty to her future husband and that of her family. Yes, she speaks like a smitten little girl, and it's easy to pass off her thoughts as trivial, but she plainly states that she wants to marry Jof to have his heirs, which is about "woman's duty." It's a combination of duty and personal interest in her motivations.

It's also important to keep in mind that Sansa is an overachiever. That is, she overachieves at all those womanly arts and duties because she wants to achieve the highest honor a woman can hope to achieve in this society. Making Jof and Cersei love her is part of that goal. Now, as modern readers, I think most of us scoff at the notion of marrying the king as a goal worth achieving, and the goal itself ought to be criticized. But the point stands that Sansa's desire for Jof is actually a symptom of her overachievement at pursuing the highest position available to women. It's not all that different from the way going to a good school and landing a prestigious job and getting rich is the big goal for many of us-- that is, the way we're told to work hard, get into the perfect school and one day achieve something great. Again, the goal Sansa is working toward is flawed, but it's a very similar principle to the modern example.

As a final point, given that both are more or less doing their duty in terms of motive, and trip over similar issues, is it truly fair to overlook Ned's actions and call Sansa "stupid" for believing in the world of song? (I hasten to add that this isn't geared toward you, just something that spun off from your response) It seems to me they made the same errors in judgment, believing people to be as noble as they are in the legends rather than reality.

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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." ....

The moment was gone.

That is exactly the opposite of trying to kill someone. That is called literary hesitation. She is trying to talk herself into pushing him, it is made clear that she had a moment where should could have killed him, but failed to do so.

“They were not the only ones present,” Ned said. “Sansa, come here.” Ned had heard her version of the story the night Arya had vanished. He knew the truth. “Tell us what happened.”

Ned says this after Arya gives her account, so Ned is saying the story he had from Sansa corroborates it. She definitely told him the truth and he knows it.

I admit that I overlooked the part where he said he knew the Truth, sorry butter, but you cannot expect a reader to make the leap that Cersei had no way of knowing that Lady was dead, just because she was not given the Pelt. Cersei is soo petty she would have absolutely, unequivocally, known that Lady had been smuggled out alive. It should not even be questioned honestly.

But really, why Sansa more contemptible for falling for Joffrey than Ned is for trusting in Robert? Keep in mind that Sansa NEVER saw Jof's ugly side before the Trident. Right afterward, he was sweet to her once more. Then her father announces that they will be parted.

Because she is such a prat about it.

What is it about these two that makes us see them so differently?

Motive.

I am not suggesting that Ned and Sansa don't make similar choices, but you keep asking why the reader view them differently. I answered your questions over and over. Motive .... You can have two people make the exact same choices and be viewed completely different because motive is that important. Why someone does something is just as important as what they do.

The term Justifiable Homicide comes to mind.

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Because she is such a prat about it.

That's it, isn't it? She acts out of an adolescent crush and is considered stupid. Ned with reason and insight does the same thing and is honourable.

One wonders why.

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Sansa's decisions were guided by a single-minded pursuit of being with Joff(which she pays dearly for) and Ned's actions were spurred on by his sense of honor and duty.

But, at the end, does it really matter? The entire "love vs. duty" debate in ASOIAF is extremely powerful, and many times character's decisions are based on what they think is right, love or duty. Even, when Aemon asks that question, we got half-answer from Jon. What is "the right thing"? I doubt that Ned can be absolved because he was acting on by his sense of honor and duty. There are many instances where doing the duty is not the best course of action: we got Jaime, Theon, and even Ned having that debate. So, I am not that convinced that Ned is objectively better because he is doing out of honor. Because (if R+L=J is true) then he knows that honor and duty aren't the only right way there is.

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