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From Pawn to Player: Rethinking Sansa III

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Find Rethinking Sansa II here. Links to the original reread threads and Rethinking Sansa I can be found here.

The following was written to launch us into this thread with useful discussion:

As we look ahead to no. 3, are there any specific themes that you would like to explore with regard to rethinking Sansa's arc?

Some questions that we can discuss or use for essay-type presentations (yes, you read correctly, I'm inviting those interested to write essay type responses):

1. Is Sansa on a similar journey of "killing the girl" like her half brother Jon who kills the boy in ADWD? Where will this path of self-discovery take her?

2. What has Sansa learnt about love over the course of the 4 books?

3. Compare the importance of the Hound and Littlefinger to Sansa's development. Which man do you think will have the biggest impact and why?

4. Sansa - more child than woman, or more woman than child? Discuss. (Raksha and I have been debating this a bit :P)

5. The politicizing of Ladyhood: Sansa's relevance to the game of thrones.

Feel free to add anymore topics as you like! Please bear in mind that if you will be attempting a long or studied response to any of the above, it would be great to support your views with textual evidence, and respect the serious nature of the thread. Trolling or sarcastic responses which add nothing to the discussion are definitely not desired or appreciated.

And no, I'm not demanding that the thread suddenly take on the air of a classroom lecture :) The above is really just to act as a prompt for those interested in further critical analyses of Sansa's arc which we basically already do on a daily basis anyways.

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Queen Cersei's post from Rethinking II:

Rapsie said:

Now there is also a general stereotype about people who read fantasy books: namely that they are male, probably have difficulties dating women and invariably have a shit time at high school. While this is a ridiculously over the top assumption, there do seem to be a number of posters who equate Sansa to that mean girl that went to school with, or that girl at high school who would never date them etc.

Yet is this attitude something that arises through the prejudice and personal experiences of readers alone? Or is it an attitude that is clearly present in GRRM’s presentation of Sansa in the text itself? After a careful rereading of Sansa’s character arc in AGOT through AFFC, I am going to have to say the latter. And here’s the thing—Sansa is not portrayed negatively so much because of her femininity, but because of her pride in herself, her birth, and feelings of entitlement towards what she wants (all qualities that go in numerous positively portrayed male characters unquestioned.)

A few quotes to illustrate what I’m talking about:

Arya says, “Sometimes it’s just fun to ride along with the wagons and talk to people.”

Sansa knew all about the sorts of people Arya liked to talk to: squires and grooms and serving girls, old men and naked children, rough spoken freeriders of certain birth. Mycah was the worst; a butcher’s boy, thirteen and wild, he slept in the meat wagon and smelled of the slaughtering black. Just the sight of him was enough to make Sansa feel sick, but Ayra seemed to prefer his company to hers.”

Sansa on Arya: “Her long horsey face got the stubborn look that meant she was going to do something willful.”

“Sansa could never understand how two sisters, born only two years apart, could be so different. It would have been easier if Arya had been a bastard, like their half brother Jon. She even looked like Jon, with the long face and brown hair of the starks, and nothing of their lady mother in her face or her coloring. And Jon’s mother had been common, or so people whispered.

"What did Gregor do ?" Arya asked.

"He burned down a holdfast and murdered a lot of people, women and children too."

Arya screwed up her face in a scowl. "Jaime Lannister murdered Jory and Heward, and Wyl, and the Hound murdered Mycah. Somebody should have beheaded them."

"It's not the same," Sansa said. "The Hound is Joffrey's sworn shield. Your butcher's boy attacked the prince."

Once Sansa had feared that Snarks and Grupkins had stolen her sister away, and Arya was only a replacement. But when she’d asked her lady mother if she was sure that Arya was really hers and not a bastard, she had laughed and said she was sure.”

“Why couldn’t Arya be sweet and delicate and kind, like princess Myrcella? She would have liked a sister like that.”

This are only some of the countless quotes in AGOT featuring these two, where the Arya/ Sansa dynamic is portrayed in the following fashion—Sansa as the rather snobbish, elitist, bratty girly girl, Arya as the unfairly persecuted, kind, down to earth tomboy with a heart of gold.

On Winteriscoming.net, someone wrote: “Arya is amazing and bucks the Westerosi female role, but that doesn’t mean Sansa sucks for wanting to wear dresses and get married. The habitual pitting of two females against each other is an annoying bit of sexism.” And yet, it judging from quotes like the ones above, it seems that “this annoying bit of sexism” of comparing Sansa unfavorably to Arya comes directly from the author himself.

Numerous people have confessed to either find this harmless or unintentional; GRRM merely mildly taking on some of the prejudices of his time. But honestly, due to the stringency and repetition of this theme (Sansa is a pretty girl who knows she’s a pretty girl, wants a handsome mate, and is proud of herself and willing to disobey her father to get what she wants—and therefore is bad, bad, BAD!) I simply cannot see it as accidental on the author’s part.

What really seems an issue here, rather than GRRM simply trying to characterize a teenage girl and failing to do so, is that Sansa—like Cersei and a few others—is being punished for her pride. Specifically, her female pride. Not the same sort of “acceptable” pride of women like Brienne, Arya, and Asha, that entails confidence in oneself and one’s ass kicking abilities, but that nevertheless leaves the individual in question without airs, accessible, and accepting.This, in stark contrast to the “proud” but friendly, accessible, girl/ woman of the people attitudes of females like Arya, Asha, Brienne, et. Al., is a sort of pride where the female in question holds herself in high regard due to her beauty, high birth, and accomplishments. She knows what she wants and what she deserves; and this may lead her to looking down upon men GRRM relates to or rejecting men due to their physical appearance, social class, or what have you. (I should say people in general, and yet, when this tendency is shown with both Sansa and Cersei, it is always men who they are rejecting, and being demonized for it.)

With Cersei, strangely, it seems she is very much characterized as “that bitch who wouldn’t talk to me in high school”. It seems that fans are (at least initially) encouraged to dislike her for her cold demeanor and her looking down on Tyrion (as he himself does with ugly females, but whatever) as for her evil deeds.

For instance:

“His sister peered up at him with the same expression of faint distaste she had worn since the day she was born.”

It seems as though GRRM considers her placing herself above Tyrion and feeling a distaste for his looks, acting snobbishly towards him, as indications of wicked, bitchy nature.

This continues, when Cersei’s aloofness, air of superiority, and tendency to pay little attention to “good” men the author relates to is highlighted, and contrasted with Myrcella’s naturally sweet, accepting nature:

“Will Bran get better, uncle?” little Myrcella asked. She had all of her mother’s beauty, but none of her pride.”

Consider the way the attitudes of the two women are contrasted as they enter the Winterfell feast in the beginning:

“(Mryrcella) …was a wisp of a girl, not quite eight, her hair a cascade of golden curls under a jeweled net. Jon noticed the shy looks she gave Robb as they passed between the tables and the timid way she smiled at him…Robb… was grinning like a fool.

“His lord father came first, escorting the queen. She was as beautiful as men said….His father helped her up the steps to the dais and lead her to her seat, but the queen never so much as looked at him.

Cersei’s lack of interest in men like Ned and Tyrion is subtly portrayed as evidence of snobbery and specifically feminine pride on her part. And is portrayed far less favorably than the modesty and friendliness of a “good” girl like Myrcella.

And to an extent, a similar style of characterization is taken with Sansa. Rather overtly in the first book; and far more subtly in books two and three. For instance, Sansa's thoughts on social class in AGOT:

Arya says, “Sometimes it’s fun to ride in the back, so you get to talk to all different sorts of people.”

Sansa knew all about the sorts of people Arya liked to talk to: squires and grooms and serving girls, old men and naked children, rough spoke freeriders of certain birth. Mycah was the worst; a butcher’s boy, thirteen and wild, he slept in the meat wagon and smelled of the slaughtering black. Just the sight of him was enough to make Sansa feel sick, but Ayra seemed to prefer his company to hers.”

Here Sansa places herself above some common born boy. (The more accepting Arya is portrayed as morally correct here.)

I see very little effort being made to understand or sympathize with Sansa’s feelings here, or placing her attitude in context. And, once again, it is worth noting that Sansa is being castigated for her specifically female pride; for placing herself above this boy due to her high birth and social background.

I think this IS a gender issue, too, since I’ve noted males like Jaime, Tyrion, and even Ned Stark doing the same thing (operating with a great awareness of their social situation and place in the Westeros hierarchy, and looking down upon others due to this issue) with no caricature or criticism whatsoever on the part of the author. Hell, Shae and Tyrion's entire relationship is built around this issue, but that is held against him quite infrequently.

At other points, Sansa demonstrates awareness that her legitimate birth places her above the illegitimate Jon; this attitude is portrayed in the following manner:

“Sansa could never understand how two sisters, born only two years apart, could be so different. It would have been easier if Arya had been a bastard, like their half brother Jon. And Jon’s mother had been common, or so people whispered.”

“Sansa sighed as she stitched. “Poor Jon she said. He’ get’s jealous because he’s a bastard.”

He’s our brother,” Arya said, much too loudly. Her voice cut through the afternoon quiet of the tower room. Septa Mordane raised her eyes…

“Our half brother,” Sansa corrected, soft and precise.

“He missed the girls too, even Sansa, who never called him anything but “my half brother” since she was old enough to understand what “bastard” meant.”

Once again, Arya is portrayed as the moral, correct sister; Sansa as the foolish, snobbish one. And once again, Sansa taking some pride in her social station and using it to place herself above others—only in the context of her own thoughts, in an utterly harmless manner—is portrayed as bitchy, wrong, unforgivable; something that she needs to be taught a lesson about. And yet, numerous male characters carry these same views, and are not caricatured for them at all. (Also interesting is that once again, Sansa is seeing herself as socially superior to a male the author relates to. Coincidence? Intentional? You be the judge.)

Ultimately Sansa, in AGOT and to an extent later novels, is portrayed as “good” but also with a good deal of subtle devices to portray her as wrong, incorrect, and needing to be “taught a lesson” about countless matters. (Which is perhaps why numerous people have creepily referred to everything that has happened to her since her father’s downfall as (and I quote) “Sansa reaping what she has sewn.”

It is this (Sansa being portrayed as good but (in many respects) intentionally annoying to the reader, and needing to be “taught a lesson”)that makes me so uncomfortable with Sanas’s character arc throughout the first four books. Because try as I might, I cannot get over the idea that Sansa, in ACOK-AFFC, is being punished for something.

Oh, not overtly, and the treatment of Joffrey and others is portrayed as “wrong.” Yet I couldn’t help but notice that in a sense, like Estella from great expectations, it seemed the author was at times using a sociopathic, evil male to “give Sansa what she needed”—i.e., break her noxious pride and beat her into shape. So while Sansa’s physical abuse and trials are portrayed as clearly wrong and she is never portrayed without sympathy, there’s also a weird feel to them, as though GRRM is somehow endeavoring to “break” Sansa of her feminine pride and other undesirable qualities that she shows overtly in AGOT, more subtly in ACOK and ASOS.

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From Daidalos

] 5. The politicizing of Ladyhood: Sansa's relevance to the game of thrones.

I know the title of this thread is "From Pawn to Player," but might it not be interesting to emphasise this aspect of Sansa's relevance to the game of thrones when discussing point 5? Does she become more of a pawn as the story progresses, while at the same time gaining the skills to play the game? If a pawn, who moves her; if a player, which pieces does she move and for what purpose? And so on and so forth, I'm sure you can think of more on this topic.

Rapsie, on 07 June 2012 - 05:13 PM, said:

Sansa maybe a pawn that is moved around by others, but so far she has survived and if she continues to move forward whilst picking up survival skills, she may indeed have the same almost miraculous change as a catipillar does when it turns in to a butterfly. By which I mean that everyone sees her as a simple hidden pawn, unaware that she has been changing internally all this time and may yet pull the rug out from under everyone's feet in terms of their expectations of her. Especially LF.

Actually, I think this is also a very interesting question: other characters' expectations of Sansa. While we are offered no glimpse into Littlefinger's mind--something we should be grateful for, I think--it's not much of a stretch to assume that he is a little bit delusional regarding Sansa. However, at the same time, I think Littlefinger might have a clearer idea of Sansa's abilities than most, since he is actually cultivating them. Would it be fair to say that LF might be able to gauge Sansa's intellect, but he fails to gauge her emotions?

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From Daidalos:

Would it be fair to say that LF might be able to gauge Sansa's intellect, but he fails to gauge her emotions?

This is a salient point. Sandor was really the only person Sansa allowed herself to be emotionally open with, and to a lesser extent, perhaps Dontos. She's pretty closed off to LF and has been from the time they arrived in the Eyrie, with her thoughts at the end of that first chapter in AFFC to feed him lies and arbor gold. Yet, the scary thing about LF is that one has to wonder just how much he wants to gauge Sansa's emotions, as he wants to shape them.

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Yet is this attitude something that arises through the prejudice and personal experiences of readers alone? Or is it an attitude that is clearly present in GRRM’s presentation of Sansa in the text itself? After a careful rereading of Sansa’s character arc in AGOT through AFFC, I am going to have to say the latter. And here’s the thing—Sansa is not portrayed negatively so much because of her femininity, but because of her pride in herself, her birth, and feelings of entitlement towards what she wants (all qualities that go in numerous positively portrayed male characters unquestioned.)

Sansa has a sense of her own worth. While it maybe a little bigheaded in AGOT, she is aware of who she is and what she is to expect in life. This is portrayed as a negative in comparison to Arya who seems completely unaware of what lies in her future (and how privileged she actually is) and instead likes to get to know everyone around her. Compare the view of Sansa in regards to Jon as to the conversations with Jon and Tyrion. Tyrion also feels sorry for Jon because he is a bastard and will not have the acceptance in life that his half-siblings do. No one has a problem with how Tyrion speaks to Jon however because Tyrion is portrayed as trying to give him tough life lessons and because he himself is partly an outcast through no fault of his own. So despite Tyrion's own views in terms of his self worth and entitlement being quite extreme, we are led to feel sorry for him, whilst at the same time made to think of Sansa as being bitchy.

Ironically Sansa and Jon are quite similar in their observations about Jon's bastard status. Jon assumes his brother will become banner men and that he will not: who would he have got this impression from if not from Ned and the people of Winterfell. Arya's views are sweet and fair and modern: which although appealing to the modern reader, is not in keeping with the world setting. I cannot find fault with Sansa accepting the social mores of her world at the age of 11. In many ways in AGOT, despite her romantic view on the world, Sansa is more of a realist about society (not about people's motivations and morality) than Arya, and yet it is Arya that is portrayed as the sympathetic one. As the saying goes, not everyone grows up to be an Astronaut. They maybe unfair, but socially different backgrounds will hamper what people can do in their lives. It may not be right, but to not acknowledge it is sweeping the problem under the carpet. Sansa's character is lambasted in fandom for not having these very modern views that Arya has and I agree that the author does not do a very good job of establishing a realistic expectation of fandom within the world setting he has created in regards to women in particular.

This are only some of the countless quotes in AGOT featuring these two, where the Arya/ Sansa dynamic is portrayed in the following fashion—Sansa as the rather snobbish, elitist, bratty girly girl, Arya as the unfairly persecuted, kind, down to earth tomboy with a heart of gold.

I see very little effort being made to understand or sympathize with Sansa’s feelings here, or placing her attitude in context. And, once again, it is worth noting that Sansa is being castigated for her specifically female pride; for placing herself above this boy due to her high birth and social background.

Which is annoying because if Arya had actually been made more aware of her social status and how playing with Mycah at swords was eventually going to lead to trouble (if Mycah had ever knocked her out or hurt her, the situation would not have gone well for him or his family.) The point is Sansa is aware that her position entails duty and Arya does not seem to be aware of this (which seems to me to be the fault of Ned for over indulging her).

On Winteriscoming.net, someone wrote: “Arya is amazing and bucks the Westerosi female role, but that doesn’t mean Sansa sucks for wanting to wear dresses and get married. The habitual pitting of two females against each other is an annoying bit of sexism.” And yet, it judging from quotes like the ones above, it seems that “this annoying bit of sexism” of comparing Sansa unfavourably to Arya comes directly from the author himself.

Numerous people have confessed to either find this harmless or unintentional; GRRM merely mildly taking on some of the prejudices of his time. But honestly, due to the stringency and repetition of this theme (Sansa is a pretty girl who knows she’s a pretty girl, wants a handsome mate, and is proud of herself and willing to disobey her father to get what she wants—and therefore is bad, bad, BAD!) I simply cannot see it as accidental on the author’s part.

What really seems an issue here, rather than GRRM simply trying to characterize a teenage girl and failing to do so, is that Sansa—like Cersei and a few others—is being punished for her pride. Specifically, her female pride. Not the same sort of “acceptable” pride of women like Brienne, Arya, and Asha, that entails confidence in oneself and one’s ass kicking abilities, but that nevertheless leaves the individual in question without airs, accessible, and accepting.This, in stark contrast to the “proud” but friendly, accessible, girl/ woman of the people attitudes of females like Arya, Asha, Brienne, et. Al., is a sort of pride where the female in question holds herself in high regard due to her beauty, high birth, and accomplishments. She knows what she wants and what she deserves; and this may lead her to looking down upon men GRRM relates to or rejecting men due to their physical appearance, social class, or what have you. (I should say people in general, and yet, when this tendency is shown with both Sansa and Cersei, it is always men who they are rejecting, and being demonized for it.)

I think it has already been noted else where by yourself and others that while Arya, Asha, Brienne etc do seem to stand out as women who deviate from the patriarchal system, every single one of them actually only act in the way they do with the consent of their fathers. They do not actually go against the wishes of their direct male authority figures, unlike Sansa, Cersei, Cat etc. The only female we see doing this is Alys Karstark and even then those she stands up against are portrayed as villains/ usurpers. We do see Asha reject one male, but he is portrayed as weak and unmanly, so it is alright for her to reject him.

I think this IS a gender issue, too, since I’ve noted males like Jaime, Tyrion, and even Ned Stark doing the same thing (operating with a great awareness of their social situation and place in the Westeros hierarchy, and looking down upon others due to this issue) with no caricature or criticism whatsoever on the part of the author. Hell, Shae and Tyrion's entire relationship is built around this issue, but that is held against him quite infrequently.

Male views are often portrayed as just realistic instead of elitist.

Ultimately Sansa, in AGOT and to an extent later novels, is portrayed as “good” but also with a good deal of subtle devices to portray her as wrong, incorrect, and needing to be “taught a lesson” about countless matters. (Which is perhaps why numerous people have creepily referred to everything that has happened to her since her father’s downfall as (and I quote) “Sansa reaping what she has sewn.”

Victim blaming seems to be in vogue at times in regards to Sansa. Maybe it is an innate fear of being helpless and an unconscious belief that were we placed in a similar situation we would somehow be able to get out of it: the idea that you have no ready means of escape and have to keep your own feelings internalized and become a victim and not be the strong person you imagine yourself to be is a tough one to mentally process.

Oh, not overtly, and the treatment of Joffrey and others is portrayed as “wrong.” Yet I couldn’t help but notice that in a sense, like Estella from great expectations, it seemed the author was at times using a sociopathic, evil male to “give Sansa what she needed”—i.e., break her noxious pride and beat her into shape. So while Sansa’s physical abuse and trials are portrayed as clearly wrong and she is never portrayed without sympathy, there’s also a weird feel to them, as though GRRM is somehow endeavouring to “break” Sansa of her feminine pride and other undesirable qualities that she shows overtly in AGOT, more subtly in ACOK and ASOS.

I'd add Bella Rokesmith, Gwendolin Harleth and a host of other women from fairytales and 19th century literature to that trope. The idea that women should be grateful for what they get and not to have expectations of their own is still deeply ingrained in society.

Actually, I think this is also a very interesting question: other characters' expectations of Sansa. While we are offered no glimpse into Littlefinger's mind--something we should be grateful for, I think--it's not much of a stretch to assume that he is a little bit delusional regarding Sansa. However, at the same time, I think Littlefinger might have a clearer idea of Sansa's abilities than most, since he is actually cultivating them. Would it be fair to say that LF might be able to gauge Sansa's intellect, but he fails to gauge her emotions?

I don't know why, but LF sometimes reminds me of Willy Wonka from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory....a bizarre and disturbing character whose mind should remain shut away....although an epilogue or prologue chapter would not go amiss.

I think you are right about LF gauging Sansa's intellect but not her emotions. I think her wrote off her desire to marry Willas as assuming Sansa was thinking of Willas as being like Loras and having Highgarden. He still sees her as the girl who likes handsome men. Dare I say it, but I think this maybe where Sansa's secret friendship (or whatever it was: association?) with Sandor will come into play in their dynamic: LF is not aware of the other side of Sansa and has misread her character. He thinks he is teaching her as a new pupil, but she has already learnt a lot about masking her true self from her experiences in KL. LF also has a vast amount of hubris at the moment and is also no longer a player in the shadows but as Lord Protector of the Vale and the Lord of Harrenhal a player in the open: the methods he has relied on for concealment may not serve him as well as they have done before.

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I will offer some of my own thoughts on LF's inability to judge Sansa's emotions. Unfortunately, I don't have the books available, so I won't be able to provide quotes. Nevertheless, I will try to make do without them.

In the last Sansa chapter of ASOS, LF helps Sansa build her snow castle version of Winterfell. During this sequence, it seems that Sansa is very well-disposed towards LF, as evidenced by the playful interplay and the snowball. Of course, he does the worst thing he can possibly do at that moment and kisses her, something that she obviously did not want him to do. This makes the deeply weird LF/Sansa dynamic explicit not only to the reader but to Sansa herself. If LF's goal was to ingratiate himself with Sansa, he erred quite profoundly with that move. His continued insistences throughout the Sansa/Alayne chapters in AFFC that she kiss him, both in a daughterly and un-daughterly fashion, only furthers her unease. This does not seem to be a smart move, if the goal is to make her like him. We don't know if he realises this, but that he keeps doing it strikes me as evidence against it.

There are of course a number of alternative hypotheses.

1) LF does not desire a father/daughter relationship, and therefore he had to make a romantic move in an attempt to shift the dynamic. Had he kept going on as if he was her father, things would never develop as he wanted them to. The unease that this produces in Sansa is obvious to him, but it is regrettably unavoidable if he is to achieve his goals.

2) LF is well-aware of the effect his advances have on Sansa, but this is his way to torment her.

3) LF does not have a game plan as far as manipulating Sansa goes. He insists that she kiss him because he can't control himself; there is no real calculation behind his moves, only desire for control and possession.

I think Littlefinger is trying to manipulate Sansa into feeling affection for him, but since he is a sociopath, he has little to no empathy and his comprehension of emotions, both his own and those of others, is shallow at best. He might be trying to bind Sansa to him as he did with Lysa, but he fails because he actually desires Sansa*; with Lysa he could be more effective with his seduction because she was only ever a tool to him, but his objective judgment is compromised as far as Sansa (and Catelyn) are concerned.

On another point, I think Sansa was fantastically naïve to feel affection towards LF during the snow castle scene prior to the kiss, if indeed affection she felt. The way LF disposed of Dontos should have given her ample evidence of his character: cold and ruthless. What do you think? Did she forget? She doesn't seem to dwell that much on Dontos in the chapters subsequent to his demise, which I think is a little bit strange.

Anyway, these are my thoughts on the issue.

EDITED TO ADD:

*Well, there may of course be psychological differences between Lysa and Sansa that also serve to complicate the issue...

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On another point, I think Sansa was fantastically naïve to feel affection towards LF during the snow castle scene prior to the kiss, if indeed affection she felt. The way LF disposed of Dontos should have given her ample evidence of his character: cold and ruthless. What do you think? Did she forget? She doesn't seem to dwell that much on Dontos in the chapters subsequent to his demise, which I think is a little bit strange.

I think this is an example of Petyr Baelish being the master manipulator that he is. Sansa is initially upset about Dontos' murder as well as Tyrion being set up for Joffrey's murder, but Petyr immediately starts manipulating Sansa. He paints Dontos as a false friend that would have sold Sansa out for money to the queen if he had been allowed to live. Then he tells her the Tysha story, I think, to show her that Tyrion doesn't deserve her worry and that she escaped an awful fate with him. Here, Petyr casts himself as her rescuer and as someone who loved her mother. This first exchange isolates her from Dontos and Tyrion, the two men who were kind to her to an extent in King's Landing, though it's interesting to note he says nothing about the Hound, suggesting he's not as aware about that friendship of sorts.

So, I would argue that, emotionally, Petyr does understand Sansa somewhat. He knows to lure her in with promises of home, for instance. And by connecting himself to her mother while giving disturbing accounts of Dontos and Tyrion, he encourages her to trust him instead and isolates her from others. Sansa knows plenty about false friends--the Queen, Joffrey, the Tyrells, and later her Aunt Lysa--and Petyr plays on this. After Lysa's death, Sansa shows instances of guilt, but once again Petyr has appealed to her in the right away, reminding her that Marillion would have helped kill her and claiming that she has blood on her hands like him (one of his creepiest lines, in my opinion). And he gets her to lie by telling her lies are okay if kindly meant, a justification he knew would resonate better with her than others, I suspect. By Feast, Sansa thinks that he's her only "true friend" and when she goes through a list of potential allies she could run to if she escaped she can't come up with a viable option. At this point, Sansa appears over her head with the master manipulator.

But we also see instances of Petyr slipping out of his protector role and becoming threatening to her when he kisses her or asks for kisses. I see these instances as Petyr not being able to help himself, even if he knows it's not helping his cause with Sansa. And we also see definite signs that Sansa isn't completely sold on her protector. I wish I had the books on me, but the line is something like--Petyr had two faces, the warm, funny protector and the sly Littlefinger, and Littlefinger isn't her friend. And also that she would have fled Littlefinger and Petyr both if she had somewhere to go. She also begins to read Petyr a little better, when she figures out one of his schemes and notes when he's not smiling with his eyes. And I love the line when Petyr asks if she can be Alayne in her heart, and she lies to him. This shows that while he's succeeded in manipulating her to an extent so far, she's not brainwashed and there's definite signs that she'll able to break free of him and see the truth. It would be unrealistic for Sansa to immediately see through him, I think, as Petyr has been able to fool nearly everyone around him.

And yes, I do think he gauges her intellect better than the other players she's interacted with so far, mainly Tyrion and Cersei. But I'm not sure if he realizes how fed up with being used for her birthright Sansa is as well as how adverse she is to another arranged marriage. He might also overestimate the lines she's willing to cross to succeed, particularly when it comes to Robert Arryn. Though we've seen signs of a more hardened Sansa emerging under Petyr's tutelage, I don't see evidence that she'd be willingly complicit in her cousin's murder (if this is actually LF's plan--it's debatable). The betrothal to Harry the Heir, Petyr's sexual advances, or Robert Arryn's fate could all prove future breaking points in their relationship, I think.

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On another point, I think Sansa was fantastically naïve to feel affection towards LF during the snow castle scene prior to the kiss, if indeed affection she felt. The way LF disposed of Dontos should have given her ample evidence of his character: cold and ruthless. What do you think? Did she forget? She doesn't seem to dwell that much on Dontos in the chapters subsequent to his demise, which I think is a little bit strange.

Lady Kraken has already responded to this in terms of the narrative reasoning, but I must say that there are instances when I'm a bit puzzled by the authorial writing in Sansa's POVs. I think it comes back to what Rapsie and QC were arguing above: there are things that at times need to made explicit in Sansa's internal thoughts which are not, and often contribute to this image of her as woefully naive, or a bit dull.

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I'd like to suggest a topic to add to Brashcandy's list. It really bothers me when someone casually refers to Sansa as 'stupid'. I like to think that she's actually quite intelligent, but that her early naivety can be confused with stupidity. So...

6. To what extent does Sansa exhibit intelligence, naivety, and idealism at different points in her narrative?

For the discussion currently going on:

In the last Sansa chapter of ASOS, LF helps Sansa build her snow castle version of Winterfell. During this sequence, it seems that Sansa is very well-disposed towards LF, as evidenced by the playful interplay and the snowball. Of course, he does the worst thing he can possibly do at that moment and kisses her, something that she obviously did not want him to do. This makes the deeply weird LF/Sansa dynamic explicit not only to the reader but to Sansa herself. If LF's goal was to ingratiate himself with Sansa, he erred quite profoundly with that move. His continued insistences throughout the Sansa/Alayne chapters in AFFC that she kiss him, both in a daughterly and un-daughterly fashion, only furthers her unease. This does not seem to be a smart move, if the goal is to make her like him. We don't know if he realises this, but that he keeps doing it strikes me as evidence against it.

I think Littlefinger is trying to manipulate Sansa into feeling affection for him, but since he is a sociopath, he has little to no empathy and his comprehension of emotions, both his own and those of others, is shallow at best. He might be trying to bind Sansa to him as he did with Lysa, but he fails because he actually desires Sansa*; with Lysa he could be more effective with his seduction because she was only ever a tool to him, but his objective judgment is compromised as far as Sansa (and Catelyn) are concerned.

On another point, I think Sansa was fantastically naïve to feel affection towards LF during the snow castle scene prior to the kiss, if indeed affection she felt. The way LF disposed of Dontos should have given her ample evidence of his character: cold and ruthless. What do you think? Did she forget? She doesn't seem to dwell that much on Dontos in the chapters subsequent to his demise, which I think is a little bit strange.

I don't think Sansa was as affectionate towards Littlefinger as you are remembering. I do have the books with me so I'll throw in a few quotes:

Littlefinger surprises her with his presence and unexpectedly offers her advice:

Sansa was wary. “Don’t break it. Be . . .” “. . . gentle?” He smiled. “Winterfell has withstood fiercer enemies than me. It is Winterfell, is it not?” “Yes,” Sansa admitted.

There's one of the few actual words directly describing Sansa's emotions: wary

Here's the snowball exchange:

Sansa stuck her fingers through the top, grabbed a handful of snow, and flung it full in his face. Petyr yelped, as the snow slid down under his collar. “That was unchivalrously done, my lady.” “As was bringing me here, when you swore to take me home.” She wondered where this courage had come from, to speak to him so frankly. From Winterfell, she thought. I am stronger within the walls of Winterfell.

For her it took courage: she is honestly expressing a serious complaint to him... something she's not used to anymore.

Anyways, what are you expecting her to do... scream about how awful he is and vow to never forgive him? I think you've got the wrong sister. Even beyond that... from her perspective why should she dismiss him as simply cold and ruthless? She's seen enough of Cersei to know how complex people can be; her number one crush killed her sister's friend. People can have hidden depths and motivations... I feel like there are still large holes in *our* understanding of Petyr Baelish, and Sansa has much less information than we do.

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I think Littlefinger is trying to manipulate Sansa into feeling affection for him, but since he is a sociopath, he has little to no empathy and his comprehension of emotions, both his own and those of others, is shallow at best. He might be trying to bind Sansa to him as he did with Lysa, but he fails because he actually desires Sansa; with Lysa he could be more effective with his seduction because she was only ever a tool to him, but his objective judgment is compromised as far as Sansa (and Catelyn) are concerned.

LF/Sansa has become some of my favorite interaction because I feel like I as a reader am seeing a whole new side to Sansa developing. Granted one that she began to nurture during her time in Kings Landing but the way she goes along with LF and outwardly agree's with/supports him, while on the inside feeling and thinking completely different convinces me more than ever she has a role to play in the future of Westeros.

When LF manages to corrupt and bribe Lord Royce with the Vale Gates, Sansa reflect that she want's to "cry" but outwardly she connects the dots when LF questions her, Showing that she realized making Royce's advancement contingent on LF's well-being was the maneuver.

I don't have it in front of me but did LF tell Sansa Lynn Cobray was working for him or did Sansa put that together herself?

It was just interesting to me that Sansa is being told things and keeping them to herself because it's in her best interest and these things would make Ned Stark's hair stand on in. She hears about how LF is banking on some of the Lords dying of old age, how another one will be murdered by one of his brothers. She's outwardly cynical and maybe even a little cold but her inner-monologue makes it seem like Sansa regrets it.

I think Sansa has built a very strong wall around her TRUE emotions and after all that's happened I'm not so sure she will ever truly open up to another person again. She lived with Tyrion for a little while, slept in the same bed (that's the impression I was given), ate with him and he's good at reading people but he never had a clue Sansa was rallying herself to escape. Now of course she would never open up to a Lannister. And maybe it's because there is nobody trust-worthy in her life and there hasn't been for a long time but I until proven otherwise I'm content to think of this as a permanent part of her evolution.

I hope in future books we see Sansa interacting with Jon, Tyrion, The Tyrells, Cersei, Stannis and of course I'm looking forward to the ongoing interactions between her and Littlefinger most of all.

It's kind of like they are playing there own little chess match. When Sansa comments about what will happen to her if Cersei were to learn where she is not only does LF say he would "remove Cersei sooner than he had planned" but he also makes a point of telling Sansa that sometimes the "pieces" don't make the moves you intend for them too and you have to "plan for that". He's clearly not telling Sansa everything and unlike many I don't think he is completely blind to the potential of her defection, he's just doing a good job of tying her well being to his own (as far as she can tell).

On another point, I think Sansa was fantastically naïve to feel affection towards LF during the snow castle scene prior to the kiss, if indeed affection she felt. The way LF disposed of Dontos should have given her ample evidence of his character: cold and ruthless. What do you think? Did she forget? She doesn't seem to dwell that much on Dontos in the chapters subsequent to his demise, which I think is a little bit strange.

I think at this point Sansa's empathy is present but detached. She see's the horrible things that befall other people and she genuinely feels for them but at the same time her priority is making sure she doesn't share their/or meet a similar fate.

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About the questions regarding the themes Brash mentioned we would like to talk about:

1-. I do think Sansa is in a way in the “kill the girl” theme Jon underwent in the last book. And I think this might lead her to not only change but act upon her new views of the world. She may even end up rebelling against LF and one of his plans even.

2-. I think Sansa has learned about love that she had the wrong concept of it in some way back in the first books. And she’s seen that falling in love and being in love don’t really need to be just out of duty or just inside marriage, but rather that instead of duty it can involve desire, passion, and well, maybe some illicit stuff, like what she thinks of Mya stone, and what I think Myranda Royce will teach her… Oh and she’s learned that she can never love any Lannisters too.

3-. Well, as much as I love Sandor I can’t ignore that LF probably has had by now some pretty important impact on Sansa. This could be said of Tyrion as well, but since Sansa is not totally aware of all the things Petyr has done to bring done the Starks, then I think that as for now, he is more important than Tyrion for her… But as to who will have the biggest impact on Sansa- Sandor or LF? Well, if Sandor is indeed alive, then I am positive it is Sandor. She can be her true self with him, whereas she must always play a part with LF. And even if his example is something that Sansa must try now to imitate, the advise Sandor gave her is more important since not only did she memorized them without realizing at the moment Sandor was trying to “teach” her something, but she just can’t let go of him in her mind. Romantically I’ve never gotten the feeling that Sansa is enjoying LF’s kisses, for one, but she now links Sandor to sexual and even innocent kisses references, so…;)

4-. Oh I think Sansa is now on the path of more woman than child.

5-. The politicizing of Ladyhood: Sansa's relevance to the game of thrones: Since she has been the only Stark currently “alive” who has lived at court and been taught important lessons by some of the most important players in the game, I think that Sansa still has some unsolved business with politics. Whether she will decide to play the game or leave it, it’s still, as of today, still there on her road.

& Grail King mentioned a thread where it is debated whether Sansa can be one of the surviving females to repopulate the world: Well, I whole-heartedly think that she will! It’s like something Raspie said that sort of went like this: The pawn that manage to get to the other side of the board become queens… :cool4: (sorry if it didn't go like that but i haven't played chess in such a long time...) :blush:

Daidalos, I liked your previous post and I actually I think the 3 behind-LF’s-mind scenarios your presented are all true. If given the choice I’m sure he’d drop the whole Father/Alayne lie to marry Sansa/But I also suspect that he doesn’t mind that much if Sansa feels tormented by his advances because he is a little perverse and may think in some twisted way that he is revenging himself on Cat by doing this to his daughter. & well, not only Cat but Hoster Tully and the Starks as well/I think that ever since the snow castle kiss he can’t control himself at times and just wants to kiss her. But so far until AFFC I think he had a plan about how can he manipulate Sansa and what he wants her future to be… Which is why I want Sandor to appear and mess up his plans since he will never suspected the Hound to do so. ;)

And while Sansa was acting nice and letting her guard down to an extent with LF during the snow castle moment, she still calls him ungallant or something like that for not taking her home, and I always read that as her being a little bitter towards Petyr- & with good reasons of course: he killed dontos and he was behaving like marmillion... :ack:

& about this: There are things that at times need to made explicit in Sansa's internal thoughts which are not, and often contribute to this image of her as woefully naive, or a bit dull. I’ve never found her dull, but I agree that George may have at times (especially in the first book seeing as some people disliked Sansa since then) sort of glossed over Sansa’s reasoning for her motivations or something… The only time I was a little sad about this (besides being sorry that this affected Sansa’s popular view) is when we never get a full lengthy reaction to her thoughts, dreams and made up memories regarding Sandor. It’s exciting to read George’s hints in this relationship, and to speculate all sorts of different possible scenarios for these two, but since it takes sooo long for him to write the books, it’s just a little sad… :frown5:

*Oh & i agree with greensleeves proposition. it would be great to do a thread which explored the reasons why Sansa is far from "stupid" so that the people who currently believe that can one day read it and see the light :)

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*Oh & i agree with greensleeves proposition. it would be great to do a thread which explored the reasons why Sansa is far from "stupid" so that the people who currently believe that can one day read it and see the light :)

Wonderful post as usual Caro :) I'm hoping that the "light" will shine forth from these threads on all those who think Sansa is silly/stupid.

I think at this point Sansa's empathy is present but detached. She see's the horrible things that befall other people and she genuinely feels for them but at the same time her priority is making sure she doesn't share their/or meet a similar fate.

Hey PureGold! I haven't seen you around these parts in a while ;) You made an intriguing observation here, which I think sheds light on her attitude towards Sweetrobin in particular. She's a lot more focused on her own survival and has committed to doing what that entails for the moment. If this means she has to put the natural empathy aside, then she can do this.

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I've been lurking and trying to read everything and just wanted to say that y'all have had some interesting discussions that I'd like to contribute to in some small manner in the future, but right now I need to get back to writing a proposal but I will contribute (by way of comments) to any reread that is done on the mothers of Westeros. I’m currently midway through my first reread of AGOT so I’m likely behind most but it could be fun.

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Queen Cersei's post from Rethinking II:

snip

Har! Thanks for reposting that, Brash. Actually, that earlier post was actually just the first part of an incredibly long post re: how I felt Sansa was being negatively portrayed for unfair reasons, then more or less "broken" over the course of the next few novels. Here's the second part of my little essay post, for anyone who's interested.

It is this (Sansa being portrayed as good but (in many respects) intentionally annoying to the reader, and needing to be “taught a lesson”)that makes me so uncomfortable with Sanas’s character arc throughout the first four books. Because try as I might, I cannot get over the idea that Sansa, in ACOK-AFFC, is being punished for something.

Oh, not overtly, and the treatment of Joffrey and others is portrayed as “wrong.” Yet I couldn’t help but notice that in a sense, like Estella from great expectations, it seemed the author was at times using a sociopathic, evil male to “give Sansa what she needed”—i.e., break her noxious pride and beat her into shape. So while Sansa’s physical abuse and trials are portrayed as clearly wrong and she is never portrayed without sympathy, there’s also a weird feel to them, as though GRRM is somehow endeavoring to “break” Sansa of her feminine pride and other undesirable qualities that she shows overtly in AGOT, more subtly in ACOK and ASOS.

*Also interesting—Sansa is clearly portrayed negatively for the following qualities in the books—her awareness of her social position, her awareness of high birth, her attraction to handsome men, being pretty and enjoying being pretty, and feeling she deserves her own happy ending and being willing to disobey her great Stark patriarch to get it. These qualities are overt and mocked in AGOT; but persist far more subtly in ACOK and ASOS. And continue to be portrayed as subtly wrong and something she needs to be broken of in ASOS.

Her turning point seems to come in ASOS, near the end, after she’s been taken to live with LF and Lysa. Note that though Sansa is portrayed with some sympathy here, and not overtly caricatured like she was in AGOT, she still has her “bad” issues of pride, which will be subsequently knocked out of her by the next book. When LF suggests Sansa pretend to be a bastard, she still demonstrates an awareness of her high birth, though she is willing to pretend. When Marrillion calls her a beautiful bastard girl, she thinks, “I am a trueborn Stark of Winterfell,” she wanted to shout.” Furthermore, she is still portrayed as having some class pride, taking mild offense and saying “please no” when LF suggests that he tell everyone she is the daughter of one of his servants.

Most of all, she shows the same willfulness and determination to chose her own mate as she did in AGOT. Though Sweet Robin is technically “a catch”, Sansa is repulsed by marrying him due to his looks, age, and sickliness:

My Lord Husband, Sansa thought, as she contemplated the ruins of Winterfell. She wondered if Lord Robert would shake all through their wedding. At least Joffrey was sound of body.

Sansa decides to refuse Lysa, noting:

I will tell my aunt that I don’t want to marry Robert. Not even the High Septon himself could declare a woman married if she refused to say the vows. She wasn’t a beggar, no matter what her aunt said. She was thirteen, a woman flowered and wed, the heir to Winterfell. Sansa felt sorry for her little cousin sometimes, but she could not imagine ever wanting to be his wife.

(Note the pride in social position and self worth here (“a woman flowered and wed, the heir to Winterfell.” Which is about shortly to be beaten out of her…)

Many may feel that Sansa is being portrayed sympathetically here, however, I sense a certain ambivalence in GRRM’s portrayal of her summation of her own worth; her refusal to marry whom she is supposed to because she does not want him. To quote the latter part of the incident:

My Lord Husband, Sansa thought, as she contemplated the ruins of Winterfell. She wondered if Lord Robert would shake all through their wedding. At least Joffrey was sound of body. A mad rage seized hold of her. She picked up a broken branch and smashed the torn doll’s head down on top of it, then pushed it down atop the shattered gatehouse of her snow castle.

Now, if you are like me, you doubtless laughed and cheered at the following display. However, I can’t get over the feeling that GRRM is portraying Sansa as petty, childish, bratty here. (For those who don’t even sense a bit of ambivalence, I suggest you read the quote again, focusing on the last part.)

We all know what happens next. Lysa attacks Sansa, tries to murder her; they are interrupted by LF, who then proceeds to throw Lysa from the moon door.

In the next book, Sansa is portrayed very positively and sympathetically – if she is being subtly caricatured for “snobby” opinions as she was in AGOT and (to a much lesser extent) ACOK and ASOS, I did not notice it. However, she’s also given up all the qualities that were portrayed so negatively before, and were associated with feminine pride—awareness of her high social position/ class; awareness of her legitimate birth; and the mentality that she had a right to chose her own fate, and that not every guy was good enough for her.

For instance, compare Sansa’s disgust with Sweet Robin with the following:

In ASOS:

Sansa felt sorry for her little cousin sometimes, but she could not imagine ever wanting to be his wife. I would sooner be married to Tyrion again.

In AFFC:

“The Lord of the Eyrie had been crying again. His eyes were red and raw, his lashes crusty, his nose swollen and runny. A trail of snot glistened underneath one nostril, and his lower lip was bloody where he’d bitten it….Dipping a soft cloth into the warm water, she began to clean his face… gently, oh so gently. If you scrubbed Robert too briskly, he might begin to shake. The boy was fair, and terribly small for his age.”

Later:

“Sometime during the night she woke, woke, as little Robert climbed up into her bed….

He cuddled close and laid his head between her breasts.”Alayne? Are you my mother now?”

“ I suppose I am,” she said.

Now consider Sansa’s comments about bastardy and attitude towards Jon Snow, the first in AGOT, the last in AFFC:

AGOT:

“Sansa sighed as she stitched. “Poor Jon she said. He’ get’s jealous because he’s a bastard.”

“He’s our brother,” Arya said, much too loudly. Her voice cut through the afternoon quiet of the tower room. Septa Mordane raised her eyes…

Our half brother,” Sansa corrected, soft and precise

And then, in AFFC:

“Oh, and the Night’s Watch has a boy commander, some bastard son of Eddard Stark’s.”

“Jon Snow?” She blurted out, surprised.

“Snow? Yes, it would be snow, I supposed.”

She had not thought of Jon in ages. He was only her half brother, but still…with Bran and Rickon dead, Jon Snow was the only brother who remained to her. I am a bastard to now, just like him.”

(Clearly, in the second of these Sansa is being portrayed far more positively, and “correct.” And note that, significantly, she no longer possesses the sort of pride that leads her to place herself others of illegitimate birth. Now she actually half identifies herself as a bastard.)

Compare Sansa’s attitudes about class shown in the following:

In AGOT:

Sansa knew all about the sorts of people Arya liked to talk to: squires and grooms and serving girls, old men and naked children, rough spoke freeriders of certain birth. Mycah was the worst; a butcher’s boy, thirteen and wild, he slept in the meat wagon and smelled of the slaughtering black. Just the sight of him was enough to make Sansa feel sick, but Ayra seemed to prefer his company to hers.”

In ASOS:

I am a Stark of Winterfell, she longed to tell him.

Then, in AFFC:

“You know our Mya’s not a maid, I trust?”

She did. Fat Maddy had whispered it to her, one time when Mya brought up their supplies. “Maddy told me.”

In the first, Sansa believes herself better than some due to her birth (considering her background and culture, I have no idea why this is so wrong, but it is portrayed as something very negative on her part.) In the second, she is still very aware and proud of her heritage. In the last, the reformed Sansa interacts with everyone, and apparently does not think her social class makes her better than anyone. (She is now apparently close and friendly enough to exchange gossip with "Fat Maddy," the exact same woman (take note!) whom she scorned earlier when LF suggested they tell people that Maddy was Sansa's mother.)

Finally, the last issue. Consider Sansa’s thoughts on being married to a man she does not want in ASOS, once again:

I will tell my aunt that I don’t want to marry Robert. Not even the High Septon himself could declare a woman married if she refused to say the vows. She wasn’t a beggar, no matter what her aunt said. She was thirteen, a woman flowered and wed, the heir to Winterfell. Sansa felt sorry for her little cousin sometimes, but she could not imagine ever wanting to be his wife. I would sooner be married to Tyrion again.

Now compare them to her reaction to marrying Harry the Heir.

“Petyr Baelish took her by the hand and drew her down into his lap. “I have made a marriage contract for you.”

“A marriage…” Her throat tightened. She did not want to wed again, not now, perhaps not ever. “I do not… I cannot marry father. Father, I…” Alyane looked to the door, to make certain it was closed. “I am married.” She whispered. “You know.”

Petyr put a finger to her lips to silence her.”

The new and improved Sansa is still as reluctant to wed as before, yet if you closely compare the two scenes, in the second she shows no signs of the stubborn willfulness or rage she does in the first; nor the same high sense of her own worth. (I am a woman flowered and heir to winterfell, etc.) In contrast, here she is merely sad, frightened, and reluctant. Her feelings are the same; but her attitude and her view of herself is totally different.

Of course, the easiest explanation here would be—GRRM does not mean to portray Sansa’s loss of her identity, deeply held feminine pride, and (reasonable) sense of entitlement about the sort of man she’s going to marry. He is merely portraying how Sansa has been forced into this submission by those around her, and is portraying this as sad/ bad. However, if that is the case, riddle me this—why the heck did GRRM portray all those aspects of Sansa—slight social snobbery; awareness of her own birth; pride in her beauty; and, perhaps most of all, willingness to go past her own father to secure the mate she feels she deserves—as so bloody negative to begin with? In AGOT? Because, try as I might, I can’t help but feel that the negative reaction of the fandom to Sansa before AFFC is due to how she is portrayed by the author. Once again, I think the quotes I’ve chose here sort of speak for themselves.

In an earlier post, I wrote: (in reference to Asha, Arya, Brienne, and the other positively portrayed females: And also, they reject the sort of "pride" that women like Cersei Lannister are castigated for-- pride that makes the woman in question feel she is better than people, particularly males the author relates to.” Sansa, when we meet her in AGOT, arguably possesses such pride herself-- and also occasionally places herself above others (often in only her own private thoughts, but this is still portrayed as bad and wrong.)

Over the course of the next four books, Sansa is then subjected to a number of horrific punishments that utterly rob her of this pride. In the beginning, she is a girl with confidence in her beauty, high birth, social class, and feel she is entitled to a happily ever after with a handsome prince. By AFFC, she no longer seems concerned with social class, considers herself, for all intents and purposes, a bastard, and seems resigned to allowing her new patriarch, LF, arrange her marriage.(Whether or not she will do this is unclear, however, one thing is undeniable—the pride and uncompromising nature, and insistence that she deserves to marry a good, handsome, charming mate of her own choice—that we see in AGOT with defying Ned to be with Joffrey, and in ASOS when she is unwilling to submit to Tyrion and decides she will refuse Sweet Robin as a husband because that is her right—has been done away with. )

So, characterizing Sansa’s journey as that of a young girl finding herself and learning what she wants is one interpretation. Another interpretation is that Sansa knows damn well what she wants from the beginning, but that these things are dubbed shallow and frivolous by the author, who then puts Sansa through hell to show her this.

It is also arguable that Sansa is (subtly but undeniably) punished for her specifically female pride, which is beaten out of her throughout the course of the books, until in AFFC, she ends in “acceptable shape.” (Never considering herself above others due to birth or social class, not insisting that she be married to a handsome, charming mate and feelings she deserves a certain kind of husband, etc.)

Whether or not one agrees with this, I think the rather negative portrayal of Sansa in AGOT (and, to a lesser extent, the next two books) and the way she is basically rid of all her expectations and feelings of entitlement as she travels through her story arc is something that is worthy of further examination and discussion.

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Hey PureGold! I haven't seen you around these parts in a while ;) You made an intriguing observation here, which I think sheds light on her attitude towards Sweetrobin in particular. She's a lot more focused on her own survival and has committed to doing what that entails for the moment. If this means she has to put the natural empathy aside, then she can do this.

I always come to the thread with something to say but than I end up reading the thread and so many ideas are tossed around and pretty much all of them prove to be thought-provoking and I end up forgetting my original intent. LOL.

And you said exactly what I was thinking without having to ramble to do it. :bowdown:

"Courtesy is a woman's armor" is such a good summation of Sansa IMO. She at this point IMO doesn't show her loves or her hates. LF can read her to a point and so could a few of the more notable players, but for the most part they all dismiss her as flighty. They have no idea she is/has learned to read political currents, spot manipulation and other useful skills in this "Game". She isn't "The Queen of Thorns" but she's not the Sansa Stark of Boonies Winterfell anymore either.

And I think as previously said in one of the Sansa Threads, Robin could be her trial by fire. My only problem is I'm not sure I want her to do what's best for him. Self-preservation seems to be the only way to make it Westeros alive. Thinking of others (in a way) killed Ned and Robb. Wanted throughout Westeros for Regicide, Hunted by Sell Swords and Hedge Knights because of Cercsei's bounty on her head not to mention she is going to have to try and survive a potential Otherpocalypse. Saving Robin should be a distant priority cause Sansa still has a long way to go in order to save herself.

Man I need Winds of Winter to come out soon.

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Sansa has a sense of her own worth.

True, she still has some sense of her own worth. And it could be argued that she is no longer proud in a way that is overlty threatening to insecure males. The pride that was portrayed as snobbery, and that GRRM clearly found threatening and distasteful in a woman, is pretty much gone. It has been beaten out of her, bit by bit.

The reason why I specify “in a woman” is because pretty much every single positively portrayed woman is singularly lacking in this kind of pride. Sansa had it at first and was caricatured for it, now it is gone and she is portrayed with more sympathy than she ever has been before. So do I think Sansa hates herself? No. But I think she lacks many qualities (invariably portrayed as negative, but which I see in many male characters unquestioned)—the tendency to look down on some people do to birth, class, or what have you; the idea that she deserves the best in a husband, and should no means be forced together with someone who does not meet her dreams; the distaste for those who scorn her ideas of beauty and happiness; and most of all, the importance she placed on her own happiness and finding love, which she placed alongside (perhaps at one point, even ahead of) her duty to her great patriarch, Ned Stark.

The funny thing is, Cersei still posseses this sort of pride, and GRRM has said that this is her worst quality. (One might think that would have been the lack of empathy, cruelty, callousness… but, whatever. I guess it’s the pride that is just plain unforgivable!) It is no wonder, then that the only several times he sympathizes her at length in her POV are when she is being sexually violated or publically humiliated and having her pride broken. (Just as Tyrion can only sympathize with her as she bursts out crying, but the rest of the time is filled with a weirdly sexually tinged hatred of her that causes him to plot to overthrow her from book 2, from the beginning of book two onwards.)

Interestingly, though, Tyrion, who, though many here (myself for one) may have mostly lost sympathy with him, seems to have pride of the exact nature and description as Cersei. And yet, this is never portrayed as something we should positively hate him for. Seriously, if Tyrion doesn’t end up hooking up with Dany, becoming her greatest friend and advisor, and rising to a place of honor and respect in this next book without ever paying for his crimes in the last one, I’ll eat my shoes. (And weep tears of joy, for the record.)

Ironically Sansa and Jon are quite similar in their observations about Jon's bastard status. Jon assumes his brother will become banner men and that he will not: who would he have got this impression from if not from Ned and the people of Winterfell. Arya's views are sweet and fair and modern: which although appealing to the modern reader, is not in keeping with the world setting. I cannot find fault with Sansa accepting the social mores of her world at the age of 11. In many ways in AGOT, despite her romantic view on the world, Sansa is more of a realist about society (not about people's motivations and morality) than Arya, and yet it is Arya that is portrayed as the sympathetic one. As the saying goes, not everyone grows up to be an Astronaut. They maybe unfair, but socially different backgrounds will hamper what people can do in their lives. It may not be right, but to not acknowledge it is sweeping the problem under the carpet. Sansa's character is lambasted in fandom for not having these very modern views that Arya has and I agree that the author does not do a very good job of establishing a realistic expectation of fandom within the world setting he has created in regards to women in particular.

The idea that by portraying marital rape as “not quite rape”; having all the good, strong women dealing with arranged marriages (Dany and Cat) by submitting and thus finding happiness, fulfillment, and great personal power in such a lifestyle; while every female who rebels or refuses to submit to an arranged marriage is portrayed as villainous—either weak, pathetic, and revolting (Lysa), or truly evil and “unnatural” (Cersei)*; showing a 13 year old girl forced into marriage with a man in his 30’s and then fall deeply in love (and lust); portraying a bunch of men sexually attracted to 12 or 13 year old girls; etc., is simply the author “showing things as they were” is a generally accepted and seldom questioned idea on these boards. Anyone who argues that there is sexism, misogyny, or anything of that nature is ridiculous; GRRM (it is frequently said) is simply portraying things “as they were in the context of Westeros.”

However, it interests me that when it comes to ideological issues such as dwarfism making a person inferior; bastardy making a person inferior; fighting with weapons as wrong for females; etc. his views are both incredibly modern and constantly hammered in. It is never suggested, at any point, ever, that Tywin’s attitude towards his son is anything but revolting. In fact, it is hammered in at every turn that this attitude toward Tyrion is wrong, unjust, and disgusting. The same with the attitude towards bastards and towards girls being able to fight, which are also messages that are driven across again and again. GRRM clearly feels that all these attitudes are portrayed as wrong; they are hammered in as such by making “good” sympathetic characters suffer for them, having only the bad/ misguided characters give lip service to the ideas, and portraying generally how ridiculous these ideas are.

Well and good. But if GRRM is truly writing things “in the context of Westeros, then the idea that Tyrion is a curse of the gods and naturally gross and inferior would be portrayed as the norm and an understandable belief. But it’s not. The author believes that it is wrong, and, regardless of context, portrays it as such.

In fact, the only time GRRM portrays things “in the context of Westeros” is when it comes to the repression, abuse, mistreatment and disfranchisement of women.

Or, I’m not saying that correctly. However, let me just note that while it’s easy to tell that he is firmly, clearly against giving bastards less rights, looking down upon male dwarves, and not allowing women to fight, his attitude towards woman taking power as rulers of the country while there are competent men available to do so is very hard to separate from the many males (and females) who say it is not a woman’s place to rule.

For instance, when GRRM has Ranyll Tarley tell Brienne “a woman’s battle is in childbed, not the battlefield,” it is obvious that he strongly disagrees. And yet, when he has Genna Lannister, portrayed up until that point as a paragon of tough talking wisdom and salty common sense, say, “I won’t interfere in decisions of war and rulership. Unlike your sister, I know my place,” it is not at all clear that he disagrees with this. While he clearly rejects the beliefs of men like Randyll Tarley and Tywin Lannister, many of GRRM’s portrayals of women who desire power or go against the patriarchy to get what they want suggest that he may well agree with Genna. A woman’s place is at home (if she’s dull and conventional) or on the battlefield fighting (if she’s awesome and badass,) as the girls he clearly favors and glamorizes, but not ruling Westeros—not when there are competent men he relates to to do so.

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...Saving Robin should be a distant priority cause Sansa still has a long way to go in order to save herself.

Man I need Winds of Winter to come out soon.

I understand why you say this but I think (and truly hope) that she is strong enough to retain her innate decency and empathy to protect and care for her cousin as much as she is possibly able. If she abandons him, even to save her own skin, then LF, Joffrey, Cersei et. al. will have destroyed her much more than the beatings and humilations hurt her.

At the moment SweetRobin is the closest thing she has to family and his presence, and sheer need, give her the ideal opportunity to stop being a 'victim' and start being a 'protector' even is she's terrible at it - I want to know she tried her best to care for her young, ailing, emotionally damaged cousin. He's simply another 'claim/pawn' in the GOT - as well as being a victim, first of his mentally unstable mother, and then of LF.

Ditto. I need Winds of Winter to come out soon too.

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There are of course a number of alternative hypotheses.

1) LF does not desire a father/daughter relationship, and therefore he had to make a romantic move in an attempt to shift the dynamic. Had he kept going on as if he was her father, things would never develop as he wanted them to. The unease that this produces in Sansa is obvious to him, but it is regrettably unavoidable if he is to achieve his goals.

2) LF is well-aware of the effect his advances have on Sansa, but this is his way to torment her.

3) LF does not have a game plan as far as manipulating Sansa goes. He insists that she kiss him because he can't control himself; there is no real calculation behind his moves, only desire for control and possession.

I agree with you that this is one of the intriguing aspects of the LF/Sansa relationship, especially since LF himself keeps harping on about that if you know what a man wants, you can move him.

I don't think he really reveals himself until the end of AFFC, at which point I think he does become overt. For being him, that is. :)

When? It's when he is presenting Sansa with the marriage contract to Harry the Heir. He's taking a two-pronged approach here to declare his intent (makes it sound like a military attack on Sansa's defences! :lol: ) . Firstly, the way he talks about Harry. "You will have no problem winning his boyish heart", and clearly indicating to Sansa that he feels Sansa and LF both are above and beyond such silly people. *They* are the clever ones, they are conspiring together, they look down on such simpletons and most importantly, he indicates that he and Sansa belong together. It's them against the world, so to speak.

Seconly, you have his body language while he gives her the marriage contract. He draws her down in her lap and she's close enough to feel the smell of cloves on his breath, then after he has presented it to her, he thinks it's worth some more non-fatherly kisses.

Littlefinger may be giving Sansa a paper with another man's name on it, but what he's really doing here is asserting himself as belonging together with her, and as a more worthy suitor.

I actually think none of your examlpes above really covers what he's doing, since I think he actually quite likes the idea of the daughter he never got with Cat, but of course, his main motivation I think is nearer no 1, despite having some really strange incestous overtones.

Caro,

3-. Well, as much as I love Sandor I can’t ignore that LF probably has had by now some pretty important impact on Sansa. This could be said of Tyrion as well, but since Sansa is not totally aware of all the things Petyr has done to bring done the Starks, then I think that as for now, he is more important than Tyrion for her… But as to who will have the biggest impact on Sansa- Sandor or LF?

I think they will both have a huge impact and have both have a huge impact. You can compare Sandor's message of "They're all liars here and everyone better than you" as something Sansa has completely internalised, sort of Ygritte/Jon Snow's "You know nothing Jon Snow" (in fact a rather similar message), while the latter "Lies and Arbor Gold" could be seen as paralleling "Kill the boy and let the man be born".

First you need to realise what the playing field is like, then you need to play the game and let go of any doubts, fears and harden yourself to the realities (albeit as we see with Jon Snow, it comes at a cost to be too cold about it: depression and emotional numbness).

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