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brashcandy

From Pawn to Player? Rereading Sansa V

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So, to get back on point, I really liked Sansa's interaction with Pod but maybe that's because I absolutely adore Pod. Dear, sweet Pod - I would adopt him in a minute! I don't believe that they will end up together in a romantic way at all and I don't ship Sansa with Pod, but does anyone else think that Pod has a huge crush on Sansa?

Pod is a sweetheart, but I honestly don't know if it's that he has a crush on Sansa, or he's just really nervous around pretty girls. :)

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Jeyne is misused by Ramsay - and as a result, she wants to get as far as possible from him (as Theon realised). It stands to reason that Shae, if really bothered by Tyrion's treatment, would also want to get away from him, not talk overly proudly of how Tywin Lannister needed advice from the Great Tyrion (which is the way her statements to Sansa came over to me).

Of course Shae would have left Tyrion if the knight of flowers came to her and proposed she would become his mistress or paramour or even wife. But with the situation as it was, she seemed to want to get even deeper involved with Tyrion. If there was misuse, it wasn't only from his side.

I see your point, and I don't think Tyrion misused her in the Jeyne/Ramsay sense during the relationship, but of course he ends up killing her which is terrible (and may symbolize the possessive nature of their relationship). However, I don't think we should put too much stock in what Shae says to Sansa in this chapter. She's being jealous and bitter of course, but to infer that she's proud of him and doesn't want to leave is another matter. To relate this all back to the topic somehow :) it's similar to how he treats Sansa. He doesn't "mistreat" her in the traditional sense, but marrying her against her will and trying to bed her were not stellar actions. I think that in the conversation between Shae and Sansa about Ellaria, both women actually envy the paramour for different reasons. Shae wants the prestige and luxury that comes with being elevated to such a status, and Sansa (especially after she meets Ellaria personally) might desire the kind of easy relationship that she shares with Oberyn. Anyways, that's just my feeling as Sansa doesn't share what she thinks on their relationship to the reader.

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The posts on here are absolutely incredible. It's a real privilege to discuss this character with all of you because you really think about what you're saying and it shows in the quality of the posts. Thank you to everyone for making this so enjoyable.

From Queen Cersei I

Sansa’s political astuteness and subtlety

Sansa is already more politically savvy

This whole post was fantastic but I'm not sure that I'm fully persuaded by it, especially the lines I've quoted. I don't think that Sansa has particularly demonstrated any political savvy or astuteness in this chapter or any of her previous ones. As I see it, Sansa has tried to lie low, speaking when spoken to, behaving as courtesy dictates and doing her best to avoid hurt and humiliation - a very sensible path. All politics has ever done for her is hurt her, physically and emotionally, and so she remains as detached as possible from everyone and everything (thinking of how she wishes Tyrion would just let her be in this chapter). Certainly she demonstrates cunning and courage by managing to hide her escape plans without rousing suspicion, but the escape was not her idea, she did not engineer it and nor does she knowingly set the wheels in motion. Her main priority is her own safety and while I do believe she is growing wiser and more knowledgeable by observing Joffrey's court, I don't think she has demonstrated political astuteness. Until she starts to understand and knowingly manipulate the political situation, however subtly and to whatever end, I don't think it's fair to say she is such.

For me, it remains that Sansa is essentially reactive, not proactive, and until that's reversed I cannot agree that she is politically astute. I believe she will become more so under Petyr's tutelage but I think her actions and behaviour thus far require praise primarily for the courage and strength they required.

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For me, it remains that Sansa is essentially reactive, not proactive, and until that's reversed I cannot agree that she is politically astute. I believe she will become more so under Petyr's tutelage but I think her actions and behaviour thus far require praise primarily for the courage and strength they required.

Avicella, welcome to the thread :) I know you've posted before, but I didn't get a chance to personally say hello.

I generally agree with what you say - Sansa does have a way to go before we can consider her to be a political player, but she has shown some political savvy before, most notably when she spoke to the women housed in Maegor's after Cersei's departure.

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Dear, sweet Pod - I would adopt him in a minute! I don't believe that they will end up together in a romantic way at all and I don't ship Sansa with Pod, but does anyone else think that Pod has a huge crush on Sansa?

I think there is a good chance of that. Pod is 13 or so, about the same age as Sansa, she is pretty, charming and he is very shy around her and he actually goes off looking for her in AFFC. It would be surprising if he didn't have at least a small crush on her. I think Sansa is exactly the kind of girl boys would get a crush on at that age, and it's not like Pod knows many other girls anyway (especially since he is so shy in general, and not of high status).

Do not confuse the HBO series with the books. Shae is a whore because she ran away from home when her father abused her, not a high born lady.

I'm not thinking about the HBO series at all (they have a very different Shae, anyway). It is Sansa who is the highranking noble girl, a status which Shae is certainly jealous off.

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I'm not thinking about the HBO series at all (they have a very different Shae, anyway). It is Sansa who is the highranking noble girl, a status which Shae is certainly jealous off.

Misread! :bang: Sorry! I see so many people talking about how Shae comes from a noble family, all because of what they saw on HBO. I really don't like the HBO Shae, because she is so utterly different from the book Shae.

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Great post Avicella! :thumbsup:

The posts on here are absolutely incredible. It's a real privilege to discuss this character with all of you because you really think about what you're saying and it shows in the quality of the posts. Thank you to everyone for making this so enjoyable.

:agree:

This whole post was fantastic but I'm not sure that I'm fully persuaded by it, especially the lines I've quoted. I don't think that Sansa has particularly demonstrated any political savvy or astuteness in this chapter or any of her previous ones. As I see it, Sansa has tried to lie low, speaking when spoken to, behaving as courtesy dictates and doing her best to avoid hurt and humiliation - a very sensible path. All politics has ever done for her is hurt her, physically and emotionally, and so she remains as detached as possible from everyone and everything (thinking of how she wishes Tyrion would just let her be in this chapter). Certainly she demonstrates cunning and courage by managing to hide her escape plans without rousing suspicion, but the escape was not her idea, she did not engineer it and nor does she knowingly set the wheels in motion. Her main priority is her own safety and while I do believe she is growing wiser and more knowledgeable by observing Joffrey's court, I don't think she has demonstrated political astuteness. Until she starts to understand and knowingly manipulate the political situation, however subtly and to whatever end, I don't think it's fair to say she is such.

THIS x1,000! I don't see her particularly as a political player, so to speak. Is she smartening up though? Absolutely.

She's a young girl who's lost most of her family, is being held hostage and has been mistreated. Most of her dreams have been dashed and she's learned that when most people look at her, they see a pretty girl who might be heir to Winterfell and how they can use that to their advantage. They have no interest in her as a person, just what they can get from her, or gain though her. :(

For me, it remains that Sansa is essentially reactive, not proactive, and until that's reversed I cannot agree that she is politically astute. I believe she will become more so under Petyr's tutelage but I think her actions and behaviour thus far require praise primarily for the courage and strength they required.

I'm really worried about her, stuck in the Vale with Petyr! :unsure:

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Avicella, welcome to the thread :) I know you've posted before, but I didn't get a chance to personally say hello.

I generally agree with what you say - Sansa does have a way to go before we can consider her to be a political player, but she has shown some political savvy before, most notably when she spoke to the women housed in Maegor's after Cersei's departure.

Thank you for the welcome Brashcandy! And also thanks for all your work on these threads. Your posts and analyses always give me a lot to think about.

I'll refresh my memory on Sansa at Maegor's and then have a think. I always end up taking ages to form opinions!

And Queen of Winter, I too am worried about her in the Vale with Petyr. He is one creepy little man!

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Pod is a sweetheart, but I honestly don't know if it's that he has a crush on Sansa, or he's just really nervous around pretty girls. :)

Aww! I think Pod is very cute, here, but I think his extreme shyness extends beyond that of merely pretty girls his own age. (Something that is, imo, fairly typical for a kid of Pod’s age.) He seems nearly as shy and awkward around Tyrion and, later, Brienne, as he does around Sansa here. Anyway, it’s nice to see Sansa interacting with a relatively decent person her own age whose actions are not totally determined by a political agenda, hidden lust, or the like.

Actually, hardly anyone believed Sansa's act, expecially not Cersei..

Re: A brief not on Sansa, Cersei, and Tyrion. I actually think that despite her cruelty, Cersei appears to understand Sansa fairly well in some respects. Putting aside the appalling fact that Cersei is letting Sansa be abused and humiliated, I actually really enjoy Cersei during their exchanges.

Personally, it seems to me that Cersei understands Sansa far, far better than Tyrion ever does. Through one could argue that a willful refusal to understand or even get to know the woman in question is an enormous part of Tyrion’s love life. Observe the following thoughts re: Shae.

“Did she?” Tyrion had never seen the dead girl’s face, but in his mind she was Shae and Tysha both. “Can a whore truly love anyone, I wonder? No, don’t answer. Some things I would rather not know.”

IMO, those who claim that Tyrion truly loved Shae could look at the following exchanges. His attitude towards Sansa, whom he lumps into his “girls who betrayed and abandoned me” category along with Shae in ADWD, is much the same.

Oh, and those who claim that Tyrion is (even partially) seeking intellectual stimulation from his gals should consider the following:

"Eighteen, Tyrion thought. Eighteen, and a whore, but quick of wit, nimble as a cat between the sheets, with large dark eyes and fine black hair and a sweet, soft, hungry little mouth… and mine!”

“She wanted to be with him more, she told him; she wanted to serve him and help him. “You help me most here, between the sheets,” he told her one night after their loving as he lay beside her, his head pillowed against her breast, his groin aching with sweet soreness. She made no reply, save with her eyes. He could see there that it wasn’t what she’d wanted to hear.”

I’ll want more from you than what you’ve got between your legs, though I’ll want that too. You’ll share my tent, pour my wine, laugh at my jests, rub the ache from my legs after each day’s ride… and whether I keep you a day or a year, for so long as we are together you will take no other men into your bed.”

This may seem O.T., but I think it is worth considering in light of the Tyrion/ Sansa interactions. Some have said that Tyrion is honestly reaching out here, and that it is only the political issues/ situation that stop them from making a connection; I’d argue that Tyrion’s interactions with women (who, naturally, must be young and pretty if he is even going to consider them worth interacting with) are based so much in personal fantasy and selfishness that the fact that he is a Lannister, Sansa a Stark, is the least of their problems.

“What does he want from me?” Sansa wonders, and I do believe that if she knew (regular sex, full emotional investment, and accordance to previous impossible ideal of the perfect woman) she would be more, rather than less, freaked out and put off by him.

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:) Agreed on both counts. There's a popular accusation always thrown at Sansa, that somehow she was lacking in the kind of intellectual ability Tyrion craved, but you're absolutely right that based on his interactions with Shae this idea doesn't hold true. And later on in ADWD he pretty much ignores Septa Lemore's value as a teacher and concentrates on her naked body.

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Aww! I think Pod is very cute, here, but I think his extreme shyness extends beyond that of merely pretty girls his own age. (Something that is, imo, fairly typical for a kid of Pod’s age.) He seems nearly as shy and awkward around Tyrion and, later, Brienne, as he does around Sansa here. Anyway, it’s nice to see Sansa interacting with a relatively decent person her own age whose actions are not totally determined by a political agenda, hidden lust, or the like.

Re: A brief not on Sansa, Cersei, and Tyrion. I actually think that despite her cruelty, Cersei appears to understand Sansa fairly well in some respects. Putting aside the appalling fact that Cersei is letting Sansa be abused and humiliated, I actually really enjoy Cersei during their exchanges.

Personally, it seems to me that Cersei understands Sansa far, far better than Tyrion ever does. Through one could argue that a willful refusal to understand or even get to know the woman in question is an enormous part of Tyrion’s love life. Observe the following thoughts re: Shae.

“Did she?” Tyrion had never seen the dead girl’s face, but in his mind she was Shae and Tysha both. “Can a whore truly love anyone, I wonder? No, don’t answer. Some things I would rather not know.”

IMO, those who claim that Tyrion truly loved Shae could look at the following exchanges. His attitude towards Sansa, whom he lumps into his “girls who betrayed and abandoned me” category along with Shae in ADWD, is much the same.

Oh, and those who claim that Tyrion is (even partially) seeking intellectual stimulation from his gals should consider the following:

This may seem O.T., but I think it is worth considering in light of the Tyrion/ Sansa interactions. Some have said that Tyrion is honestly reaching out here, and that it is only the political issues/ situation that stop them from making a connection; I’d argue that Tyrion’s interactions with women (who, naturally, must be young and pretty if he is even going to consider them worth interacting with) are based so much in personal fantasy and selfishness that the fact that he is a Lannister, Sansa a Stark, is the least of their problems.

“What does he want from me?” Sansa wonders, and I do believe that if she knew (regular sex, full emotional investment, and accordance to previous impossible ideal of the perfect woman) she would be more, rather than less, freaked out and put off by him.

You know I am debating with someone at the moment (elsewhere) in fact, discussing the Humbert/Petyr/Quilty/Tyrion parallels and the Catelyn/Annabel Lee/Sansa/Lolita parallels and I pointed out to this person (an extreme Tyrion fan) that Tyrion is a monster of incuriousity with Sansa (like Humbert with Lolita) and not interested in Sansa as a person, but only wants her claim and his fantasy.

They say that Tyrion did want Sansa to bring him her "fears and her Joy, her hopes and her dreams" dreams" etc. But I am stuck on the "but her joys are his tears and her hopes are his fears" due to the political divide.

But you make the point that it goes much deeper than that.

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I wonder, if Sansa had managed to put aside her fear and distrust/antipathy towards Tyrion and his family, if he would have ever tried to teach her the ways of the world, or been content to keep her a pretty bird in a gilded cage. I'm not sure that Tyrion would ever want a woman to be his intellectual equal, though he wouldn't want a fool either. I think that Tyrion needs to feel intellectually superior to women; in fact, he needs to feel intellectually superior to everyone, with the exception of his father; which I can understand, since he is looked down upon for his size and face. Tyrion is a giant in terms of intelligence, perception, manipulation, his wit, and his ego.

Avicella made some good points about Sansa not yet having gained skill in political manipulation. I would counter that although this is true, her lack of reactivity is largely a function of Sansa's being a prisoner and a child. She's always guarded, she has no one to trust but a drunken knight who is supposedly helping her, so it's not like Sansa is going to start manipulating Lancel Lannister or Tanda Stokeworth. If Sansa were a few years older, perhaps she might try to use her sexual charm to influence men to help free her; but she's not yet at that point in her development. There aren't too many people in GRRM's world, or in real history, who have been skilled political manipulators at the age of 12-13. (though I get the feeling that under the Queen of Thorns' tutelage, Margaery Tyrell had a good start on the fine art of politicking, and probably was at least starting to do so under her grandmother's supervision before she even married Renly)

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I wonder, if Sansa had managed to put aside her fear and distrust/antipathy towards Tyrion and his family, if he would have ever tried to teach her the ways of the world, or been content to keep her a pretty bird in a gilded cage. I'm not sure that Tyrion would ever want a woman to be his intellectual equal, though he wouldn't want a fool either. I think that Tyrion needs to feel intellectually superior to women; in fact, he needs to feel intellectually superior to everyone, with the exception of his father; which I can understand, since he is looked down upon for his size and face. Tyrion is a giant in terms of intelligence, perception, manipulation, his wit, and his ego.

It's very true about Tyrion's tendency to belittle women-firstly Catelyn, Lysa, Cersei, but also Lollys, Sansa, Shae... Sure Lysa and Cersei aren't the cleverest women in the world, and Lollys is Lollys...

I think Tyrion, did factor in Lollys's mental retardation, but not because he wouldn't find her intellectual stimulating (his interactions with Shae show that intellectual stimulation is not something he desires from women), but because the mentally retarded/intellectual disabled tend to dribble, speak very slowly, and look slightly odd. I can't believe I am the only person who catches buses during the day, though it could be that I am the only person heartless enough to point this out.

It's interesting, because Tyrion is sympathetic to Bran and Jon and says that he has a fondness for cripples, bastards and broken things. But when he comes to Sansa he is fully prepared to sacrifice her life so that he can gain Winterfell and is still resentful when she doesn't respond to him.

I would say the difference between Jon and Bran vs Sansa, is that Jon and Bran are both male and in some ways are similar to Tyrion: Tyrion must subconsciously know in AGOT that his father doesn't want him to inherit Casterly Rock, so I guess that makes Tyrion a bastard in his father's eyes, so he can sympathise with Jon being sent off to the Wall so that he won't threaten Robb's claim. Of course the similarities between Bran and Tyrion are even more palpable: both are unable to fight in a fighting man's world, therefore both are unmanned in a warriors society, this is made evident by their sexual relationships: Bran will never be sexually able, and Tyrion is sexually rejected. So it's easy for Tyrion to empathise with Bran and Jon.

It's very hard for Tyrion, however to empathise with Sansa : sure she is being abused by Cersei and Joffrey, whom Tyrion hates, but she is a beautiful girl with a woman's problems rather than a disabled man's problems: Sansa's problem is a lack of freedom, and I think reading the Ramayana, to Ann Radcliffe, to Jane Austen, to George Elliot, to Lolita, is that the lack of freedom is the problem that all women have. Wheras the problem that Tyrion, Baelish, Samwell, Jon and Bran all share is a lack of masculinity (by their shortness, fatness, lack of property, lack of potency). Interestingly the problem that these men are inherent to themselves and considering the many positive things associated with masculinity (courage/battle prowess and ability to protect women) and since only Samwell and Jon have exhibited these positive traits (not that I blame Bran for this since he is a child and Meera can look after himself, I also expect Bran to save Meera in the future) it could be argued that a lack of masculinity is a flaw (especially as exhibited by Baelish and Tyrion in their tendency to murder, rather than protect the women they have sex with). Where as a lack of freedom is something that society imposes upon women rather than a flaw that certain women exhibit.

Indeed the only problem that Tyrion and a woman share, is the lack of property: Tyrion will not inherit, and women are less likely to inherit (thus women, like Cersei, not owning property lack freedom), yet even Sansa as of the Red Wedding, does not have this problem, though of course her imprisonment means that she cannot enjoy owning property.

So I think that it is very hard for Tyrion to empathise with Sansa's problems: all he sees is a pretty girl, and looking at his sister from the outside (not at the DV she endured under Robert) he cannot see how beautiful girls could really, truly ruly have problems, but rather just reject men like him.

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Another small thing that struck me about this chapter was Tyrion's vs. Sansa's opinions on Baelor the blessed. I think it shows their different mindset, values, and world views very well here. Though Tyrion claims to be a lapsed romantic, save for his ideals about finding a barbie doll to give him perfect storybook love, he seems pretty bloody cynical. Furthermore, he doesn't seem to have any dreams about how things could, should be. Though he is a fountain of compassion compared to Cersei and Joffrey and Tywin and even others like LF, compared to Sansa, he is pretty hardened to the suffering around him.

Meanwhile, Sansa is constantly thinking about how things should be, noticing and trying to alleviate the sufferings of others however she can, even when she herself is suffering and nearly helpless. She thinks of ways she could better perform duties to the smallfolk and the vulnerable that are currently not being held up. She attempts to feel for the outcasts and disenfranchised even when they might be strange or distasteful to her. (IMO, it is Sansa-- and a few of the other female characters-- Brienne and Arya come to mind-- who seem to be the true protectors of cripples and broken things, not Tyrion, whose sympathies are rather ridiculously limited.) Sansa strikes me as not just a romantic, but a true idealist.

Thus, their different views of Baelor the Blessed. Tyrion pretty much views him as a bit old joke, referring to him as "Baelor the Befuddled," and laughing at his fear of sex. To Sansa Baelor is different. IMO, its not just a matter of her taking all the legends of him at face value-- though dismissive people like LF would no doubt think its just Sansa being young and naive. IMO, besides the legends, Sansa seems to be able to see past the ridiculous (though that is a factor) to the genuine goodness and kindness of this figure. And I think currently, Sansa's situation puts her in a place that allows her to truly appreciate genuine goodness, simplicity, and compassion, even if it does come with a side of the ridiculous or even the crazy. She has currently seen more cruelty, selfishness, jadedness, and perversion in the past year of her life than most people see in the entireity of theirs, and her appreciation of the rather weird, looney holiness of Baelor the blessed is somehow understandable.

Similarly, Tyrion's attitude of scepticism and mockery and Sansa's need to believe in purity and goodness are characteristic here.

You know I am debating with someone at the moment (elsewhere) in fact, discussing the Humbert/Petyr/Quilty/Tyrion parallels and the Catelyn/Annabel Lee/Sansa/Lolita parallels and I pointed out to this person (an extreme Tyrion fan) that Tyrion is a monster of incuriousity with Sansa (like Humbert with Lolita) and not interested in Sansa as a person, but only wants her claim and his fantasy.

Yeah, the slight problem is, though, that, IMO, Nabakov clearly knew how sick Humbert was and made sure the reader was aware of it; GRRM seems to do his utmost to present Tyrion as good, decent, and his vision of love as not at all narcissistic or creepy. (Actually, Tyrion's vision of love very much fits Jaime's and pretty much every single believably sexual male in this series.)

Cersei's view of love is satirized endlessly and presented as yet more proof of her shallow, greedy nature; meanwhile, Tyrion's view of love (and his treatment of his past flames) is, imo, even sicker, but its treated as poignant and touching for the reader; much time is spent encouraging empathy for Tyrion, often at the expense of those whom he has used and disgarded.

Sansa is one of the few women GRRM is willing to give nearly equal empathy to as Tyrion. Interestingly, Tyrion also seems to see Sansa as "worth more" than Shae, and instantly takes her more seriously and sees fit to try to form a real connection with her (something he ostensibly avoids doing with Shae, even as he claims to love her so much in the fraught, overheated monologues in his mind.) Sansa and Tyrion are given about equal empathy, which is intriguing-- but very different from the Humbert Humbert/ Lolita situation, in which, despite the fact that Humbert is narrating, Lo is given nearly all of the true empathy and concern of the author and the reader in turn.

IMO, with the Tyrion/ Sansa thing (and this chapter showcases it as well as any; another instructive scene being their awkward as all get out marriage night) GRRM seems to be naturally identifying with Tyrion as he always does, but willing to give Sansa equal consideration and respect.

Would that he would be willing to do the same with Shae. Because, IMO, while Sansa is presented as a human being, Shae is pretty much demonized largely for not loving Tyrion, and being in it for money. The interaction between Sansa and Shae in this chapter strikes me as characteristic of how the two are treated and contrasted throughout the series. The comparisons between Sansa and Shae occur throughout Sansa and Tyrion's chapters, with Sansa always coming across as the better.

For instance, Sansa's telling Tyrion the truth and inability to hide her true feelings-- her integrity, in short-- is subtly contrasted with the duplicitous Shae's willingness to lie and fake. Fair enough, however, one wonders-- if GRRM (and, eventually, Tyrion) apparently dissaprove of Shae so much for faking an interest in Tyrion, where would Tyrion be? He is a homely guy who feels entitled to gorgeous young girls, so has no other choice but to purchase them for cash. He then uses them and discards them when better things go along (as he was willing to do with Shae if Sansa would have been willing to sleep with him-- something that makes Shae's apparent negative attitude towards Sansa in this chapter fairly understandable.) If girls like Shae were not there to lie to him and pretend to enjoy his three stroke adventures in bed, what would Tyrion do? Does GRRM honestly expect Shae to truly love Tyrion, be loyal to him, then nobly step aside the moment a younger, purer, higher born girl comes along?

Because it does seem to be the author presenting Shae as (like Cersei) yet another negative mode of feminiity; yet another way not to be. Women who care more for money than for men; who lie and flatter; who look at situations asking what they can get from them materially; women who, most of all, use sex to get ahead and don't end up falling for their john's in a ridiculous pretty woman sort of fashion-- such women are inferior to good, honest girls and women who can love, and will end up spreading their nastiness not just to their john's, but to other innocent people-- including their own sex. (Shae's brassy attitude to Sansa here, for instance.)

Similarly, I got a strong contrast between the "good" whore-- or paramour, Ellaria Sand, and the souless tacky wicked one, Shae. Shae wants to be like Elaria, it is presumed, but never will be. Ellaria has true grace and dignity which come from being a Good Woman and truly loving and being loyal to her man, Oberyn. She loves him and would do anything for him, the tacky, cheap, worthless Shae is just in it for the money. Apparently, Oberyn himself is no stranger to the abuse of hookers (take the scene where he brutally punched Obara's mother, simply because he could), and he must have picked a "good" women rather than a loveless whore a la Shae.

Similarly, its interesting to contrast the behavior of Shae and the good Elaria towards Sansa. Shae is rather cool and, as Sansa puts it, "bold." We, the readers, know that in her thoughts, she means Sansa no good. This, along with Shae's unspeakable cruelty of mentioning the sexual predilections of a former ciient in public are generally why many people note Shae as amongst their most hated characters, and confess to cheering when she was strangled. Meanwhile, the good Ellaria, who loves Oberyn and is not just using him for money like the evil tacky whore Shae, is kind and sweet and gentle to Sansa. It seems as though its being implied that women like Shae-- women who use their bodies to advance their social status's, caring about power rather than love, and not truly caring for the men in their lives-- are incapable of decency, compassion, or care for other women, even when the other women are like them.

Anyway, the evilness of women using sex to get ahead is simply a theme that is trumpeted one too many times in this series for my comfort.

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Great points Raksha and VQ! As you noted Raksha, Sansa's choices and behaviour are largely informed by her position as prisoner and pawn of the Lannisters. It would be unfair to expect her to be an active player of the game of thrones at this stage when she can trust no one, and has very little to bargain with. The lack of control she has over her future is perfectly highlighted in the forced wedding to Tyrion. However, just because Sansa wasn't capable of starting any games in KL, it doesn't mean that she still didn't effect change in meaningful ways. Here are the major ones:

- saving Dontos' life

- bonding with the Hound

- preventing mass hysteria during the BBB

- convincing the Tyrells to murder Joffrey

Sansa seems like she will be a natural game player when the time is right, not because she is necessarily a great manipulator, but because she's able to actually use her empathy and self control to reach out to people and to hide her own feelings whilst attending to theirs. As Tyrion will note in the upcoming chapter, she knows just the right thing to say and to whom. This isn't mere courtesy, but instead reveals an astute understanding of just how to set people at ease, and disarm them for your own purposes.

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@Queen Cersei - You made a great point on the differing world views between Tyrion and Sansa on the topic of Baelor the Blessed. As is to be expected, Sansa has a slightly more romantic notion of Baelor, but you're absolutely right that it isn't meant to highlight this so much as to emphasise the divide between her and Tyrion, particularly I believe on the issue of religion and faith. For Tyrion, these things have no value; Baelor is only someone to be mocked as ineffectual and useless. However, Sansa's natural attraction to religion and the amount of time she has spent in prayer herself recently, makes her sympathetic to a figure like Baelor.

Also interesting: another reference to the Dragonknight in this story of Baelor's activities. It really seems as though the Dragonknight is meant to have special symbolic importance to Sansa's arc.

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This whole post was fantastic but I'm not sure that I'm fully persuaded by it, especially the lines I've quoted. I don't think that Sansa has particularly demonstrated any political savvy or astuteness in this chapter or any of her previous ones.

I disagree, for reasons I'll get into shortly. However, before I begin, I just wanted to point out that I think there is a crucial difference between demonstrating political savvy and natural astuteness and being a fully fledged political player in every sense of the word.

This whole post was fantastic but I'm not sure that I'm fully persuaded by it, especially the lines I've quoted. I don't think that Sansa has particularly demonstrated any political savvy or astuteness in this chapter or any of her previous ones. As I see it, Sansa has tried to lie low, speaking when spoken to, behaving as courtesy dictates and doing her best to avoid hurt and humiliation - a very sensible path.

In my mind, Sansa's mere survival is a testament to her political skills. Earlier, I said this:

Instead of the story of a child victim, Sansa’s arc becomes the story of a girl whose abilities are constantly overlooked and underestimated by those around her, which only testifies further to her skills.

You seem to see Sansa as less an individual who has shown natural political savvy than a victim (or survivor) who has tried to make the best of her circumstances. As I noted, I started out with that exact view, however, taking a closer look I can see how Sansa's interactions with her environment demonstrate an unusually sophisticated, apparently innate understanding of politics and interpersonal relations. (Two things that are linked more than most people realize.)

Her "lying low, speaking when spoken to, keeping her courtesies" display her ability to quickly read and adapt herself to new situations-- something that is crucial in the world of politics. In fact, as I noted, she seems better able to control her behavior and act with discretion than do some of the generally praised and lauded players of the game-- Tyrion Lannister, for instance. Perhaps if Tyion would have had Sansa's discretion and politeness, he may have not ended up blamed for the murder of the nephew he made no secret of hating and threatened publicly on occasion. (Yes, I know, the cautious Sansa also ended up accused; however, her position made her perfect in terms of motive. Meanwhile, Tyrion, besides the common "everyone hates him because he's a dwarf" excuse, did much to antagonize nearly everyone in his family save Jaime.)

So, while my suggestion that Sansa go to advise Dany rather than Tyrion was mostly sarcastic, I do think its impossible to separate her shrewd survival in a dangerous political environment from politics and political savvy. Being a definite player in the game of thrones is different than exhibiting definite political and social aptness from a young age. I think Sansa clearly does the latter, but is not in the position yet to do the former. And that was mostly what my post was about.

As for her being "mostly passive" and not figuring out how to get out of her situation herself-- I think she handled it remarkably well. She found the right people to help her, met with them in secret, concealed her activities remarkably well, and hid behind a mask of courtesy and blandness that you (and many others) appear to dismiss as mere survival. I'd have to say that yet again, in an environment like kings landing, Sansa's "merely surviving" meant, by necessity, calling on much political savvy that was almost remarkable to find in a person of her age. She shows far more astuteness at 13 than Ned did at 35.

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Another small thing that struck me about this chapter was Tyrion's vs. Sansa's opinions on Baelor the blessed. I think it shows their different mindset, values, and world views very well here. Though Tyrion claims to be a lapsed romantic, save for his ideals about finding a barbie doll to give him perfect storybook love, he seems pretty bloody cynical. Furthermore, he doesn't seem to have any dreams about how things could, should be. Though he is a fountain of compassion compared to Cersei and Joffrey and Tywin and even others like LF, compared to Sansa, he is pretty hardened to the suffering around him.

Meanwhile, Sansa is constantly thinking about how things should be, noticing and trying to alleviate the sufferings of others however she can, even when she herself is suffering and nearly helpless. She thinks of ways she could better perform duties to the smallfolk and the vulnerable that are currently not being held up. She attempts to feel for the outcasts and disenfranchised even when they might be strange or distasteful to her. (IMO, it is Sansa-- and a few of the other female characters-- Brienne and Arya come to mind-- who seem to be the true protectors of cripples and broken things, not Tyrion, whose sympathies are rather ridiculously limited.) Sansa strikes me as not just a romantic, but a true idealist.

Thus, their different views of Baelor the Blessed. Tyrion pretty much views him as a bit old joke, referring to him as "Baelor the Befuddled," and laughing at his fear of sex. To Sansa Baelor is different. IMO, its not just a matter of her taking all the legends of him at face value-- though dismissive people like LF would no doubt think its just Sansa being young and naive. IMO, besides the legends, Sansa seems to be able to see past the ridiculous (though that is a factor) to the genuine goodness and kindness of this figure. And I think currently, Sansa's situation puts her in a place that allows her to truly appreciate genuine goodness, simplicity, and compassion, even if it does come with a side of the ridiculous or even the crazy. She has currently seen more cruelty, selfishness, jadedness, and perversion in the past year of her life than most people see in the entireity of theirs, and her appreciation of the rather weird, looney holiness of Baelor the blessed is somehow understandable.

Similarly, Tyrion's attitude of scepticism and mockery and Sansa's need to believe in purity and goodness are characteristic here.

Very true, also Baelor also represents a path outside of marriage, and Sansa is trapped in a marriage that makes Septa-hood look appealing.

Yeah, the slight problem is, though, that, IMO, Nabakov clearly knew how sick Humbert was and made sure the reader was aware of it; GRRM seems to do his utmost to present Tyrion as good, decent, and his vision of love as not at all narcissistic or creepy. (Actually, Tyrion's vision of love very much fits Jaime's and pretty much every single believably sexual male in this series.)

Cersei's view of love is satirized endlessly and presented as yet more proof of her shallow, greedy nature; meanwhile, Tyrion's view of love (and his treatment of his past flames) is, imo, even sicker, but its treated as poignant and touching for the reader; much time is spent encouraging empathy for Tyrion, often at the expense of those whom he has used and disgarded.

Really though? Surely GRRM cannot be so fooled by his own creation? I mean In 1959, novelist Robertson Davies excused the Humbert entirely, writing that the theme of Lolita is "not the corruption of an innocent child by a cunning adult, but the exploitation of a weak adult by a corrupt child. This is no pretty theme, but it is one with which social workers, magistrates and psychiatrists are familiar."

So obviously some people were fooled by Humbert, so is not possible that Tyrion is intended to be a villain like Humbert, but that many people are fooled? I mean until Humbert rapes Lolita, he is merely a molester (the way Tyrion merely molested Sansa on his wedding night) so if Lolita had been kidnapped by Quilty between Charlotte's death and her rape by Humbert, then would Humbert's villainy be so evident?

in ASOIAF, Sansa is separated from Tyrion before he can rape her, but Tyrion then goes on to rape Illyrio's slave girl and the prostitute with dead eyes in ADWD...

Sansa is one of the few women GRRM is willing to give nearly equal empathy to as Tyrion. Interestingly, Tyrion also seems to see Sansa as "worth more" than Shae, and instantly takes her more seriously and sees fit to try to form a real connection with her (something he ostensibly avoids doing with Shae, even as he claims to love her so much in the fraught, overheated monologues in his mind.) Sansa and Tyrion are given about equal empathy, which is intriguing-- but very different from the Humbert Humbert/ Lolita situation, in which, despite the fact that Humbert is narrating, Lo is given nearly all of the true empathy and concern of the author and the reader in turn.

IMO, with the Tyrion/ Sansa thing (and this chapter showcases it as well as any; another instructive scene being their awkward as all get out marriage night) GRRM seems to be naturally identifying with Tyrion as he always does, but willing to give Sansa equal consideration and respect.

I think Tyrion instinctively sees Sansa as worth more because her caste is the same as his -Tyrion is the son of the Lord of Casterly Rock, and Sansa is the daughter of the Lord of Winterfell. Remember that Tywin felt he had a right to offer this grossly deformed child to Arianne Martell, Lysa Tully etc, when obviously the sort of woman (or moreover father with saleable daughters )willing to marry Tyrion would have to be benefitting by an enormous gain in rank/caste to compensate for Tyrion's genetic short comings, obviously this gain would be that their daughter (and therefore their grandchildren) would be the Lady of Casterly Rock and their grandchildren heirs to Casterly Rock. Which Tywin obviously didn't want(Similarly Dhritarashtra's blindness is the reason he was not the true king in the Mahabharata)

Would that he would be willing to do the same with Shae. Because, IMO, while Sansa is presented as a human being, Shae is pretty much demonized largely for not loving Tyrion, and being in it for money. The interaction between Sansa and Shae in this chapter strikes me as characteristic of how the two are treated and contrasted throughout the series. The comparisons between Sansa and Shae occur throughout Sansa and Tyrion's chapters, with Sansa always coming across as the better.

For instance, Sansa's telling Tyrion the truth and inability to hide her true feelings-- her integrity, in short-- is subtly contrasted with the duplicitous Shae's willingness to lie and fake. Fair enough, however, one wonders-- if GRRM (and, eventually, Tyrion) apparently dissaprove of Shae so much for faking an interest in Tyrion, where would Tyrion be? He is a homely guy who feels entitled to gorgeous young girls, so has no other choice but to purchase them for cash. He then uses them and discards them when better things go along (as he was willing to do with Shae if Sansa would have been willing to sleep with him-- something that makes Shae's apparent negative attitude towards Sansa in this chapter fairly understandable.) If girls like Shae were not there to lie to him and pretend to enjoy his three stroke adventures in bed, what would Tyrion do? Does GRRM honestly expect Shae to truly love Tyrion, be loyal to him, then nobly step aside the moment a younger, purer, higher born girl comes along?

Because it does seem to be the author presenting Shae as (like Cersei) yet another negative mode of feminiity; yet another way not to be. Women who care more for money than for men; who lie and flatter; who look at situations asking what they can get from them materially; women who, most of all, use sex to get ahead and don't end up falling for their john's in a ridiculous pretty woman sort of fashion-- such women are inferior to good, honest girls and women who can love, and will end up spreading their nastiness not just to their john's, but to other innocent people-- including their own sex. (Shae's brassy attitude to Sansa here, for instance.)

Similarly, I got a strong contrast between the "good" whore-- or paramour, Ellaria Sand, and the souless tacky wicked one, Shae. Shae wants to be like Elaria, it is presumed, but never will be. Ellaria has true grace and dignity which come from being a Good Woman and truly loving and being loyal to her man, Oberyn. She loves him and would do anything for him, the tacky, cheap, worthless Shae is just in it for the money. Apparently, Oberyn himself is no stranger to the abuse of hookers (take the scene where he brutally punched Obara's mother, simply because he could), and he must have picked a "good" women rather than a loveless whore a la Shae.

Similarly, its interesting to contrast the behavior of Shae and the good Elaria towards Sansa. Shae is rather cool and, as Sansa puts it, "bold." We, the readers, know that in her thoughts, she means Sansa no good. This, along with Shae's unspeakable cruelty of mentioning the sexual predilections of a former ciient in public are generally why many people note Shae as amongst their most hated characters, and confess to cheering when she was strangled. Meanwhile, the good Ellaria, who loves Oberyn and is not just using him for money like the evil tacky whore Shae, is kind and sweet and gentle to Sansa. It seems as though its being implied that women like Shae-- women who use their bodies to advance their social status's, caring about power rather than love, and not truly caring for the men in their lives-- are incapable of decency, compassion, or care for other women, even when the other women are like them.

Anyway, the evilness of women using sex to get ahead is simply a theme that is trumpeted one too many times in this series for my comfort.

This maybe harsh morality on my part, when so often society does not give women the option of morality, but it is true that people who value power (and since in non-capitalist societies, money is only available to those who have power) and money; more than integrity, duty, freedom and love are often rather horrid people.

When we meet people like that in real life, we tend to avoid them, especially after they wrong us.

So it's only sensible that Ellaria, who values love (ie her prostitution is part of some Lysene love goddess ritual which I think is ridiculous but) would be a better person than Shae (whose prostitution is superficially about money, though we know that Shae's prostitution is about survival).

Unfortunately since society is often rather unfair to women, women have to use their sexuality to gain power (since a woman without power is a woman without freedom) or money (since a woman without money is a woman without food, clothing or shelter), thus the injustices that women are subjected to, can make women rather horrible.

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Baelor the blessed was mentioned upthread. I have to say, it seems quite clear from the text that Sansa is being naive here due to being misinformed. The tales about Baelor the blessed appear to be just that, tales. The reality appears to be that Baelor was a deranged religious fanatic (he locked up his own sisters so they wouldn't have sex, remember? somehow I doubt this goes over well in present company on this thread). Tyrion knows this because he is well read in actual histories (and often more than one so he can read potentially contrasting views, as he did on the dragons subject), while Sansa only has heard the regular tales about him (that have probably been "beefed up" and "cleansed" by septons wishing to gain souls). Ellaria Sand confirms this to Sansa, as does Oberyn.

On this count, Sansa wasn't right and Tyrion was, because he is well informed and she wasn't (but she is now).

Regarding Tyrion not taking older or unpretty women seriously, he did have a rather high opinion of (not terribly young) Catelyn as I recall, and he does care about Penny who is not pretty by most standards. He also seemed to be rather impressed by the woman at the docks in Volantis.

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Anyway, the evilness of women using sex to get ahead is simply a theme that is trumpeted one too many times in this series for my comfort.

Is that why Ellaria is presented in such a favourable light, even though she apparently was "near a whore when Oberyn found her" (as Shae put is)?

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