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From Pawn to Player: Rethinking Sansa XII

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Recently I’ve been reading a feminist theological work about the story of the fall of man in the book of genesis, and how Eve has been held particularly responsible (and blamed) for mankind’s fall into sin. In particular, the book focuses on how this has led to woman being held as the root of original sin throughout the years in Christian theology. While reading, this weird comparison kept popping into my head—the resemblance between Sansa and the biblical figure of Eve.

Of course, first, a disclaimer—the following is quite random and may strike many as oddball/ overly whimsical. Feel free to skip over the following if it strikes any of you as silly.

Sansa in certain ways reminds me of the biblical figure of Eve. For ages, Eve has been blamed for one act of direct disobedience that entailed major, earth shaking consequences. Hungry for divine knowledge of good and evil, Eve disobeyed God her father and tasted the fruit of knowledge herself. Similarly, Sansa “falls” from grace when she (unthinkably) disobeys the will of her own patriarch, directly disobeying him, attempting to claim for herself something that he had forbidden.

In both cases, chaos and misery are shown to be the result of the female in questions unthinkable disobedience. Their actions have far-reaching, disastrous consequences, both for themselves and countless others. And in both cases, they seem to receive inordinate blame—after all, Eve disobeyed God once, chose to taste the forbidden fruit once. Sansa disobeyed Ned once, never imagining the potential consequences of her actions (since Ned did not see fit to inform her.)

Yet they receive harsh, vehement, often outrageous seeming condemnation for their actions—Eve ruined everything for all mankind and brought evil into the world (clearly Adam would have never done it without her!), Sansa (it is claimed with remarkable frequency on these boards) “killed her father”, or, at least, is accused to have played an enormous role in the fall of the Starks.

Before her “fall” from grace Sansa was, like Eve, living an Edenic existence. In an Eden like paradise, she and hers knew mostly only happiness. Naturally idealistic and decent herself, Sansa assumed that others operated by a similar code. When she made her first major decision—going after what (or, in her case, whom) had been expressly forbidden to her by an authoritarian figure who took it upon herself to tell her what to do (and whose will she and everyone else had, up until that point, unquestioningly obeyed), she, like Eve, boldly threatened the world order—for reasons that were no less political than being personal. Eve placed her own curiosity above the will of her (it might be argued) overtly patriarchal God; Sansa placed her own romantic, sexual, and emotional desires above Ned Stark’s will.

In both cases, the results were catastrophic. Like Eve, Sansa’s decision resulted in an epic fall from Grace. The world as she knew it—beautiful, innocent, and fair—went crumbling around her, and was replaced with a grim reality. Her patriarch deserted her. The scales soon fell from her eyes, and she saw that this new world was not a purely beautiful or perfect place. For the first time, she was able to see good from evil, and distinguish the two. Like God himself.

And it is this last issue that Eve is seldom given credit for—this new sense of responsibility and knowledge--that I also see playing a role in Sansa’s future storyline. Because when the scales first fell from Eves eyes, and she could tell good from bad, right from wrong, and was capable of a sense of shame because of this, she, in a sense, went from being a child (who did not know and did not chose) to an adult—who knew right from wrong, and, like all of us, must make the choice.

Similarly, Sansa went from a world where she was sheltered and indulged, where she held an idealistic set of beliefs that, up until that point, had perfectly operated in her blissfully happy childhood existence. And, despite the danger of kings landing, she may well have stayed in this world. How easy may it been, for instance, for her to simply listen to Ned Stark, her family patriarch who, as such, is supposed to make all decisions for her? If she would have done such, she could have still been a happy girl with a relatively easy existence—one not marred by though choices, since her destiny, fate, and everything else would be mostly in the hands of her father, whose inordinate patriarchal power would have saved her from not just freedom but also the choice and moral responsibility that went with it.

But like Eve, Sansa refuses this early path. And like Eve, she makes this choice not out of selflessness, but because she wants—wants more, wants for herself, wants something that’s been expressly forbidden her.

In a world where it is said to be their rights of patriarchs to chose spouses for their daughters, Sansa refuses to let the orders of her good father be the end all in her life. And as with Eve, Sansa is drawn with disapproval and some condemnation for this act. (Of course, this is a controversial issue and not something everyone will agree with. And lately, it seems as though some people have been using certain issues with GRRM’s treatment of this character as reasons to condemn Sansa herself as weak. Personally, I don’t think Sansa is the least bit weak or “ruined,” but I do have certain issues with the way GRRM treats her WRT certain issues—primary amongst them being her decision to go behind Ned’s back. GRRM’s portrayal of the event (not to mention comments in interviews) subtly indicate that he feels what I perceive to be an inordinate amount of blame for Sansa for not listening to her patriarch, and urges readers to do the same.) Like Eve, she is portrayed as the manufacturer of not only her own, but of others misery—whom she dragged down with her.

As is usual with this archetype, GRRM seems to draw Sansa’s actions as mostly foolish, selfish, childish and wrong; but lurking behind this (hidden and unacknowledged) seems to be a sort of fear and desperation to condemn this girl who challenges the male figure who should unquestioningly be in charge; whose daring disobedience threatens to destroy the very patriarchal structure of her world. As with Eve, Sansa’s actions are inordinately demonized, and shown in a largely negative light. GRRM seems to portray Sansa’s choice in the most negative possible light by utilizing the following methods.

1. He subtly portrays her as “feminist” from the beginning—shows her as conventional, as compared to the more sympathetically portrayed outsider Arya. He also seems to portray Sansa as partially to blame for Arya’s insecurities, and almost portrays her as a snobbish upholder of the status quo. For instance:

“She was almost in tears. All she wanted was for things to be nice and pretty, the way they were in the songs. Why couldn’t Arya be sweet and delicate and kind, like Princess Myrcella.”

Arya reflects: “To her sister and sister's friends and all the rest, she had just been Arya Horseface.”

Sansa says to Arya: “You ought to marry Hodor, you're just like him, stupid and hairy and ugly!"

"Her hair was a lusterless brown, and her face was long and solemn. Jeyne used to call her Arya Horseface, and neigh whenever she came near. It hurt that the one thing Arya could do better than her sister was ride a horse."

“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.”

Why is all this significant? Because it portrays Sansa as a shallow, antifeminist sort of “mean girl,” who mocks and insults her poor sisters appearance. And because it seems designed to detract from the fact that Sansa will commit one of the greatest acts in the series—which her daddy’s girl sister, painted as the consummate feminist, would never dream of doing.

To detract from the fact that he condemns her for feminism, GRRM portrays the far less threatening sister as the true, good, role model feminist one; Sansa is demonized as “silly” and “weak” for having conventionally feminine interests, which are connected with frivolity, naivety, snobbishness, and, most of all, her “evil” betrayal of the starks, which is actually a revolutionary deed.

2. During the Direwolf incident, Sansa is made to look silly and weak. Arya later professes that Sansa “lied.”

Interestingly, a look at the text indicates that Sansa never lied—Arya started beating her up, so Sansa is silenced. But Arya repeats this “Sansa lied” thing so many times, it is as though readers are supposed to accept it and believe it true.

It seems as though Sansa is later presented as delusional in a way that is supposed to gall readers and make them feel annoyed/ angry at her. For instance:

"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."

3. Sansa’s motivations for doing what she did—her feelings for Joffrey—seem to be treated with papable condescension and mockery. For instance:

“Sansa could not be angry with Joffrey. He was too beautiful.”

“Sansa was so impressed when Joffrey had ordered the common folk to go into their homes and bring them food and drink.”

"That night Sansa dreamt of Joffrey on the throne, with herself seated beside him in a gown of woven gold. She had a crown on her head, and everyone she had ever known came before her, to bend the knee and say their courtesies."

Compared to the reflections of his self stated alter ego Tyrion's on his love for Shae, it seems as though Sansa is being given very little true empathy here- and that her feelings, unlike Tyrion's for Shae (which GRRM has categorized as "love") are simply not being respected or taken seriously.

4. When Sansa’s going to Cersei happens, a close analysis makes it feel as though, though she is not being portrayed as straight up evil; there is dismayingly little attempt to establish true, heartfelt sympathy with Sansa—far less so than there is for Tyrion as he rapes and mistreats hookers in this latest book, for instance. During the scenes that describe Sansa going to see Cersei itself, the matter is presented in the following manner:

]

“But I love him,” Sansa wailed, confused and frightened. What did they mean to do to her? What had they done to her father? It was not supposed to happen this way. She had to wed Joffrey, they were betrothed, he was promised to her, she had even dreamed about it. It wasn’t fair to take him away from her on account of whatever her father might have done.

It seems Sansa is being portrayed as not a conflicted, flawed, but brave human being acting on limited information; but a selfish, petulant child.

“It was for love,” Sansa said in a rush. “Father wouldn’t even give me leave to say farewell.” She was the good girl, the obedient girl, but she had felt as wicked as Arya that morning, sneaking away from Septa Mordane, defying her lord father. She had never done anything so willful before, and she would never have done it then if she hadn’t loved Joffrey as much as she did. “He was going to take me back to Winterfell and marry me to some hedge knight, even though it was Joff I wanted. I told him, but he wouldn’t listen.”

Though the some of the following do display some degree of sympathy, the intention of these excerpts seem intended less to create true empathy and understanding with Sansa; more to create a sense of annoyance and frustration and disapproval towards her on the part of the reader.

5. Sansa never quite realizes what happened, or feels guilty afterwards—something that makes distressingly little sense under the circumstances.

As of ASOS, she’s thinking of herself as “the traitors’ daughter.”

6. The badness, rather than other aspects of her deed—such as courage and revolutionary nature—of it is emphasized. Pulling out every stop to avoid making it look revolutionary, feminist, or brave, GRRM presents it as pure treachery; a childish and stupid act.

7. It seems as though at certain point GRRM actively attempts to give readers the impression that Ned’s fall was primarily Sansa’s own fault. For instance, take the following scene:

"Littlefinger made the arrangements. We needed Slynts gold cloaks. Eddard Stark was plotting with Renly and he'd written to Lord Stannis offering him the throne. We might have lost all. Even so, it was a close thing. If Sansa hadn't come to tell me all of her father's plans...

Tyrion was surprised. "Truly? His own daughter?" Sansa had always seemed such a sweet child, tender and courteous.

"The girl was wet with love. She would have done anything for Joffrey, until he cut her father's head off and called it mercy. That put an end to that."

Here, the wicked Cersei’s triumph is imputed to Sansa’s treachery. Numerous readers have taken this to heart, some even saying that “Sansa killed Ned.” Even those who admit that this is not factually correct view the act as some sort of unthinkable betrayal; how dare Sansa have “placed her own selfish desires for a dreamy prince over the honorable moral beliefs she had been raised with all her life.” Even though Ned’s orders were unexplained and unspecified; Sansa’s disobedience was unthinkable, selfish, horrible.

Some have categorized the above Tyrion/ Cersei exchange initially confusing, since, on very close examination, the timeline does not work out. Others have then claimed that Cersei was lying to save face and cover up her own incompetence WRT the whole Ned thing.

IMO, this is possible; but seems strange since Cersei is so open to confessing other areas of incompetence to Tyrion (Joff’s disobeying her, for instance). It also seems as though GRRM goes out of his way to emphasize it and make Sansa look as responsible as possible for her father’s fate—something that is repeated later on in AFFC when Cersei reflects that, “she hadn’t had a sweeter gift since Sansa Stark had come running to her with all of her father’s plans.” (You mean… after Ned Stark came running to you with all his own plans, Cersei?)

IMO, from the way the whole ordeal is treated, and GRRM’s response to a comment that Sansa could not, by time alone, have been responsible for her father’s downfall (GRRM was quick to note that Sansa should be held culpable, without a doubt, despite having noted that he knows people loathe her for this in the past), it seems as though GRRM made a conscious effort to make Sansa appear to be primarily at fault for Ned’s downfall.

8. Again, GRRM has noted in interviews on two separate occasions (in response to arguments put forth that people blame Sansa too much) that “Sansa is culpable.” This strikes me as strange, since I’ve also read of him commenting that he knows Sansa is widely hated in the fandom for this reason.

9. A later quote by Tyrion also follows in this line: “Sansa Stark may have been a maiden between her legs, but she’d betrayed her own father to Cersei.” Sometimes I’ve wondered if Tyrion isn’t speaking a bit for his creator here.

Yet there is positive side to the choice of Eve and Sansa. As someone has noted, Adam was happy, obeying and unquestioning God, in the garden. But Eve was different—braver in way. She saw…something greater.” Knowledge—knowledge of oneself, of good and evil. The ability to make choices.

This is what Eve gained from the Fall, and this is what Sansa arguably gains from hers. When she falls, she has no more patriarch protector to presume to make any and all important decisions for her and shield her from touch moral choices and the world. She sees that the world is full of evil, and must begin to navigate around it, make choices of her own, and live with them.

Before their disobedience, Eve and Sansa were in a state of innocence—or, perhaps, ignorance. And as we all know, ignorance is bliss. But after their fall, they were no longer in a state of innocence—they were in a state of grace. They could recognize right from wrong, and make choices.

To quote from a poet in Janet Fitch’s While Oleander, who is rejecting her daughter’s simplistic worldview on good and evil:

“The nature of good and evil has always been a fascinating subject, but do not try to solve it by mouthing pious clichés at me about natural obedience and right and wrong….. To see for oneself is to steal fire from the gods. Three cheers for Eve.”

And three cheers, I say, for Sansa.

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<<snip>>

Great post, QCI. Comparing Sansa to Eve is an instructive analogy particularly now that she's in the company of LF - the deadly serpent of the series - who's taken on the role of another patriarch in her life. Sansa has experienced the knowledge of good and evil, and LF has outlined his plans in very clear terms, making this the time where Sansa will have to make a distinct choice, given that she is not only in possession of all the facts, but moreso no longer existing in a state of naive innocence or ignorance. It's interesting to reconsider the snow castle scene in light of this comparison, with Sansa lamenting the loss of her own Garden of Eden, i.e. in the Eyrie garden where no weirwood would grow: "a godswood without gods, as empty as me." It is however, in this moment of acute spiritual despair, that Sansa does find her salvation/grace, and it's through the act of rebuilding Winterfell in the snow.

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Me either but I've never spent time in a larger fandom like ASOIAF.

And I'm knocked up. Been fine so far but had to buy a bunch of wine as gifts today and it gave me a Sad.

Congratulations! Oh, that is just a lovely thing to read. Very happy for you. x

Also, maybe Hodor for a boy? Just sayin'....

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Kitty, CONGRATULATIONS!! :grouphug:

Milady, beautiful post! I raies my glass to your toast as well!!

QCI, never would've thought of eve but you made many good strong points which i really agree with!

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My dear girls, I love you all! Thanks so much for everything you do.

Now, the issue of Eve's culpability is still hotly debated in theological circles, but Queen Cersei I has summed up the main point very well. However, there is a big difference between Sansa's desobedience and Eves's: Sansa didn't know why she shouldn’t disobey and the consequences such a path would have, her patriarch didn't explain anything to her. Eve, on the other hand, knew very well what was at stake. In the Bible we read:

God told Adam before Eve was created that he was not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:17)

And Adam told her why she shouldn't eat from the Tree of Knowledge and what would happen if she did. That she was aware of the situation is obvious from her answer to the Serpent’s tempting remarks: We can eat from all the trees but this one, if we eat the fruit or touch it, we will die, and the Serpent convinced her via lying that it wouldn’t be so, thus calling God a liar indirectly, and Eve, after hearing both versions, made the fateful choice. Hence we can say that Eve made an informed choice, but Sansa didn't.

And as for blaming Eve, it's interesting that God didn’t demand an answer from her when he found out they both had eaten the forbidden fruit. He demanded an answer from Adam, and it's implied in the biblical text He considered him guilty, since he was the one who learnt first from His mouth what would happen, and that Adam was conscious of it is clear in his response: he tried to shift the blame from himself onto his partner, and instead of defending his own behaviour, he said that “the woman You put here with me as a helper brought me the fruit and I ate it," attempting also to thrust a part of the responsibility back upon God himself. Interesting, isn't it? God considers him responsible, and he in turn considers Eve –and God in part– are to blame for an act he commits consciously and of his own free will!

We may point a finger at Eve, but the real wonder is that Adam seemingly without hesitation succumbed to Eve’s invitation to share her disobedience. For Eve didn't force the apple down his throat, he could refuse and talk her out of it the same way she talked him into eating it, and besides the ambiguity of the Hebrew text makes many a theologian wonder if in fact Adam was there at Eve’s side when the temptation took place. What is a sure thing is that he chose freely and therefore he was to blame for his own disobedience; Eve was responsible for hers and hers only, not both hers and Adam's. In view of this, the order in which God passed sentence on all three people involved says a lot about each one’s degree of responsibility: first, he punishes the Serpent as the main culprit for it was the mastermind behind it all, then he punishes Eve and finally Adam. It was a spiral of choices. And yet, Eve’s disobedience is seen as the relevant one to this day, overlooking both the Serpent’s cunning use of lies and deceit and Adam’s willful disobedience. It reminds me of the old argument against Sansa that overlooks both Ned’s own mistakes and Littlefinger’s scheming. Cherchez la femme is still so convenient a justification for so many…

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...

I always interpreted the Eve eating the apple and losing the innocence as a metaphore for growing up, so it was really interesting. And the Lost Ede is the Lost childhood.

Though if I remember correctly the blaming of women because of that was so big, that at one of the synod (I don'T remember which one) was about wether women had a soul or not.

By the way in the Bible the world "getting to know" and similar is the meaning to have sex. After Adam and Eve eat the apple only ater that did they get to know each other according to the text.

And about Ned and Doran, I compeletly agree with you. But I think both of them are pretty bad when it comes to parenting. One of my friend who is a teacher told me when dealing with children if you gave them an order like (don'T cross the road etc...), you have to explain why. They are not stupid, so if you explain the reasons they will understand, but if you don'T they won'T see why they should obey to it, and the tempting to do it will be big. Though in Brans case he is not blamed that much for disobeying his mother.... (Don'T misunderstand I don'T say he is at fault when it comes to Jaime throwing him out of the tower)

A woman has to see the inner beauty of the men, yet she herself has to keep her own beauty, dealing with hair at different places, the skin, and for example, what the hell that neither Dany nor Sansa not even Arya are dealing with the physical curses of a teenager, and with that I mean spotts. But that would be true to mainly Arya who is often really dirty so her higeny must be really bad, yet we don'T her about spotts on her face, or bad theets (I don'T think she washes it much).

SO appaently women have to have some god like genes that even if we absolutly don'T take care about ourself, our skin, our theet still remains beautiful and spotless (and down less hairy than Selyse's moustache,thanks Val for that insightful information). On the other hand if we actually pay attention to our appearence that is bad, and shallow (see the mocking of Selyse that she is actually trying to deal with her physical appearance (she plucks out her moustache daily, though she must have some incredible hair growth if it comes back in a day. Maybe she is a witch, just Roxfort haven'T been established yet. I mean one of the first sign of Harry's magic power was that the cut down hair grew back in a day...))

I would show some pictures to GRRM about people who really don'T take care about their higeny (either because they don'T want to, or because they can't, a hint, usually they loose their first few theeths at their adolesent days, but for some reason in GRRMs world people are far more likely to loose their hands and their legs than their theeths), just to see how ridicoulus some of these: badsass wimenz who dunt zpend ani tim on theirz buty yet ztill r smexy idea..

So in the following:

We must be beautiful yet do nothing for our appearance. (that is why you are shallow Sansa)

We must be rebellious (see Arya for example), yet not (shush Sansa, how dare you, and you too Arianna)

We must want to have sex when a male desires ourself (again Sansa you really just don'T get it...), yet not (Dany....you don't get i either)

We must speak up for ourself (Arya, Asha you are great), yet not (Sansa you really don't learn, neither you Dany, neither you)

I am sure you can think of more such expectations.

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Following on from the Adam and Eve symbolism, doesn't Cersei slot in very well as Lilith? She is Sansa's predecessor in many ways, and even advises her on her role, she is the voice of experience. Lilith's big crime was disobedience, and some state, from wanting to have sex on top (heaven forbid :eek: ), and Cersei follows on in this tradition, by transgressing sexual boundaries of her own. She is even a child eater! The line about licking Robert's heirs from her fingers is very Lilith-esque. I think this just strengthens the correlation of Sansa as Eve, the second, more perfect form of woman, who brings destruction down anyway, though innocent where her predecessor was monstrous.

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A woman has to see the inner beauty of the men, yet she herself has to keep her own

beauty, dealing with hair at different places, the skin. SO appaently women have to have some god like genes that even if we absolutly don'T take care about ourself, our skin, our theet still remains beautiful and spotless (and down less hairy than Selyse's moustache,thanks Val for that insightful information). On the other hand if we actually pay attention to our appearence that is bad, and shallow (see the mocking of Selyse that she is actually trying to deal with her physical appearance (she plucks out her moustache daily, though she must have some incredible hair growth if it comes back in a day.

So in the following:

- We must be beautiful yet do nothing for our appearance. (that is why you are shallow Sansa)

- We must be rebellious (see Arya for example), yet not (shush Sansa, how dare you, and you too Arianna)

- We must want to have sex when a male desires ourself (again Sansa you really just don'T get it...), yet not (Dany....you don't get i either)

- We must speak up for ourself (Arya, Asha you are great), yet not (Sansa you really don't

learn, neither you Dany, neither you)

Your post was very insightful Silverin! Your words reminded me of Cersei, and how at some point in the books thinks that women are much crueler than men at times when it comes to criticizing other women, even if all they are doing is trying to look pretty or being proud of their looks. Sort of like what happened I think with Scarlett O’Hara the first time she became a widow. She dreaded the idea of wearing mourning and not looking pretty for the rest of her life, which since she was 16-17 at the time, I don’t mind at all, yet that was how things in her society were like. It wasn’t until she started to rebel and wear bright colored clothes that mostly all the old ladies of Atlanta began to criticize her.

It’s also funny how at least back in the old days women were supposed to accept her husband’s looks, but if a man didn’t like a woman, well it was harder for the marriage to come to fruition (like with Anne of Cleves and Henry VIII). This could I guess apply to Sansa and Tyrion. Tyrion isn’t judged for wanting Sansa for her beauty by his fans, I think (I could be wrong) but when Sansa can’t accept what Septa Mordane lead her to believe all her life about finding something beautiful in every man, she gets called a shallow fool and worse, increasing to the dislike felt towards her because ever since the beginning she liked to look pretty.

Yet Sansa, unlike Cersei and even Scarlett, doesn’t use her beauty to gain anything. As she is being fitted for her wedding dress, and when she finally gets to wear it, she is really happy to be looking beautiful, yet that’s as far as it goes. She isn’t making other women feel inferior because she is way better looking than them, and she isn’t using her beauty to attract men’s help like Cersei for example. Tyrion could only see her good looks, yet it’s nice to think that Sandor got to see beyond that and was drawn to the kind person Sansa was. I’m sure she must have been a fresh of fresh air to him with her goodness after spending years at court, were all the women seemed to be vain and may have been nice to men they couldn’t tolerate to gain royal favors or social positions.

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Woo Hoo and Congratulations to Kittykat! :thumbsup:

QueenCersei and Milady of York, as usual, thought-provoking posts with much brain food to feast on! This is why I love these re-thinks.

Working on Sweetrobin's post - I don't have a lot of fairy tales or allegory to put into it, but maybe it could spur some. :)

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  1. ZOMG Kitty congratulations!

  2. Yet another page to bookmark for my P2P folder-excellent as always QCI.

Can I ask which ships are in your signature? I heard about some but I did miss months from this board and the Sansa disucssions so I don'T know all. (And what is the Ja-Ja sisterhood?)

And is your avatar Myrcella, or Cersei?

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My dear girls, I love you all! Thanks so much for everything you do.

Now, the issue of Eve's culpability is still hotly debated in theological circles, but Queen Cersei I has summed up the main point very well. However, there is a big difference between Sansa's desobedience and Eves's: Sansa didn't know why she shouldn’t disobey and the consequences such a path would have, her patriarch didn't explain anything to her. Eve, on the other hand, knew very well what was at stake. In the Bible we read:

God told Adam before Eve was created that he was not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:17)

And Adam told her why she shouldn't eat from the Tree of Knowledge and what would happen if she did. That she was aware of the situation is obvious from her answer to the Serpent’s tempting remarks: We can eat from all the trees but this one, if we eat the fruit or touch it, we will die, and the Serpent convinced her via lying that it wouldn’t be so, thus calling God a liar indirectly, and Eve, after hearing both versions, made the fateful choice. Hence we can say that Eve made an informed choice, but Sansa didn't.

That's certainly one (entirely valid and intelligent) way of looking at the matter. However, my own interpretation is slightly different.

Mine is this-- God did lie to Eve. He told her and Adam that if they ate of the fruit they would die. (A lie.) The serpent told Eve that she would not die, but be as God, knowing good from evil.

Reflecting upon these two things, Eve chose to take the risk, wanting to know and see for herself.

So yes, she did "evilly" disobey, which is the way (as a Roman Catholic) I've been taught to see it most of my life. However, she also made something of a bold, heroically defiant choice that claimed more divinity and intellectual independence and progress for man, much along the lines of Prometheus stealing fire from the gods.

Of course, Eve, as you said, knew the fruit was forbidden. And why God lied to her about why, the serpent told her the truth, so she did, technically, make an informed choice. Beyond the Augustinian interpretation of woman being held as the root of all evil and the Fall, her choice does contain some hubris not unlike those mortals were constantly being punished for in the myths-- wanting to be like to the gods, we all know, is folly.

And yet, IMO, her choice does still bear certain things in common with Sansa. I think seeing Sansa as a pure victim who would have never, ever disobeyed daddy had she had any idea of what she was doing is as limiting as seeing Eve's choice as one that was merely wrong and foolish.

Sure, Sansa had no idea her going to Cersei was going to lead to Ned's downfall and misery for all. Yet she knew that Ned had forbidden a certain course of action, just as God had forbidden Eve to eat of a certain tree. And just as God patriarchally told Eve a lie that basically amounted to "God knows best, you just behave, girly!", Ned was so confident that his patriarchal will would be obeyed that he didn't even bother to explain the basic reasoning behind this enormous decision he was making for his daughter that would impact her future, and change/ determine the course of her entire life. "I promise I'll find you a good husband, one fully worthy of you." he says.

Generally, these have been taken to be kindly, fatherly words. "If only poor Sansa had listened," I've heard many, Sansa fans included, exclaim. I can understand this, yet what many seem to miss is the sheer, assumptive arrogance of Ned's actions here. He simply tells his daughter what to do, without explanation or an attempt at understanding; assuming that she will naturally assume that he in his superior wisdom can and will make all the major decisions about her future for her.

Yet like Eve, Sansa isn't having it. She doesn't want her father's vague promises; she wants the boy she's fallen in love with. And she's willing to do things (including unthinkable disobedience of the will of the almighty patriarch) to get what she wants for her future.

When people say that Sansa does not have a feminist bone in her body in other threads, I laugh and laugh and laugh. Sansa singlehandedly defies the entire system of her society (based on patriarchal-- first father, then husband-- control of women) to follow her own romantic desires. The fact that Sansa is not trying to create larger societal change makes this decision on her part no less revolutionary. Indeed, the only other person who comes close is Arrianne Martell (a situation that, again, GRRM portrays as ending in epic disaster; clearly the foolish girl should have listened to her daddy), and Arrianne only does it when, at 23, she believes she is being denied her socially allowed inheritance. Sansa defies the patriarchal marital system of her society at age 11, despite having a "good" father-- inspired by the strength of her passion and desire as well.

But anyway, back to Eve-- like Eve, Sansa is given an order by her patriarchal figure. Like Eve, she is dissatisfied by this. Like Eve, she seeks more. Eve sought knowledge, and commits a conscious act of disobedience for it. Sansa seeks love, and also commits a conscious act of disobedience for it.

IMO, both Sansa and Eve knew that they were transgressing a boundary, but neither could be said to have made a fully informed choice-- neither were, after all, fully aware of the full repercussions of their actions. For instance, Eve knew that God had (dishonestly) told her that she couldn't eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, because in doing so she'd die. Then she learned from the serpent that this was not true; but that if she ate of the tree, she could gain divine wisdom. So technically, she ate knowing what she was going to get.

Yet Eve didn’t fully realize what catastrophic things would come of her disobedience, or the new knowledge that came with it. She did not know she would be expelled forever from the Garden of Eden, or that want, misery, and painful childbearing would come of it. She knew she was disobeying, but did not fully know the full consequences of her disobedience.

From what Eve knew, God had only forbidden her the fruit because he wanted to keep her and Adam in a state of innocent, childlike ignorance of good and evil, right and wrong. A place where, it’s worth nothing, many adults would be unsatisfied staying all their lives. When she ate the fruit she knew it was wrong, but did it anyway, which makes it “bad”—an act of disobedience. However, when she did so she also did an act of—I daresay, admirable defiance—that heroically defied a greater power and strove to go after what she felt she wanted and needed and deserved on her own terms.

Similarly, Sansa Stark knew that Ned had issued a direct order, and that direct orders from one’s patriarch are to be obeyed. She didn’t know why he wanted her to leave, because he didn’t bother to explain. However, she knew that her leaving and not marrying Joffrey was what he wanted; to go to Cersei with his plan was to go directly against his (unexplained and unspecified, but ultimately quite clear) will.

Like Eve, Sansa knows she wants something she technically should not, something that has, technically speaking, been forbidden her. Like Eve, Sansa also cannot know the consequences of her disobedience—what will happen to those around her, how things will turn out. Yet she choses to follow her own will rather than the patriarchal one that has, up until this point, been held up to her as divine. And indeed, which, in her society, is law.

Both Eve and Sansa may have been “better off” not asserting their female wills. Certainly, it would have been easier for them to stay in safety all their lives, obeying their patriarch’s will. But the fact that they both chose a darker, dangerous, more independent path has a streak of revolutionary heroism to it. It is both heroic in the sense that characters like Prometheus, or Satan from Milton’s Paradise Lost are heroic—having the courage and humanism to push human beings intellectually further, the nerve to think for oneself and refuse to unquestioningly follow the wisdom of the divine—and heroic in it’s display of the female will, and defiance of accepted patriarchal order.

So while I find GRRM’s purely negative portrayal and weird demonization of Sansa’s choice to go against Ned’s orders a bit obnoxious and suspicious and unfair, I think that saying that Sansa was a poor, innocent girl who knew nothing is similarly detracting from the complexity of her character—and in particular, the extremely bold, controversial, selfish, but ultimately incredibly brave and revolutionary choice she made here.

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From the series analyzing Sansa's relationship with the various men in her story arc: Robert "Sweetrobin" Arryn Part I

Robert Arryn, known as Sweetrobin, is the son of Lysa Tully Arryn and Jon Arryn, and is Sansa's first cousin. He is eight years old when Sansa meets him for the first time.

Sweetrobin is the only surviving child of Lysa Tully's and Jon Arryn's marriage. We know that Lysa was forced to abort Petyr Baelish's child before she was married off to Jon Arryn, but Jon was widowed twice and still childless. While it is possible that the abortion damaged Lysa's uterus, I think it more likely that most of the blame rests with Jon, who was at least in his 60's when he married Lysa and had no children with his first wives; though Westerosi society seems to place the blame for fertility problems on the woman. In any case, Lysa clings tightly to her only child, going so far as to flee King's Landing for the Eyrie in order that her son not be fostered with Stannis Baratheon or Tywin Lannister (two possible candidates put forth).

In the Eyrie, Sweetrobin is brought up in isolation with only his widowed mother Lysa and their servants. When Sansa/Alayne first arrives there, she remarks on how quiet, cold and dreary the atmosphere was. Lysa breastfed Sweetrobin until he was at least six years old, sees to his bathing, dressing and personal grooming to the point where he doesn't want anyone else to touch him. In addition, he is allegedly "sickly" with the shaking sickness. When Sansa first meets him she notes how puny and sickly he looks, with a runny nose and red-rimmed eyes.

A question I wish to raise here: Is Sweetrobin really and truly that sick? I am inclined to say "no." Perhaps the shaking sickness is genuine, but I am looking more at a combination of Munchhausen's-by-proxy, utter coddling and a very unhealthy upbringing with no good food, exercise or social stimulation. I think you could take a perfectly healthy kid and make him sick by bringing him up the way Lysa brought up Sweetrobin.

I am convinced that one of Sansa's roles with regards to Sweetrobin is to demonstrate that he is a perfectly healthy child. Already Bronze Yohn wanted to foster him and spoke of Sweetrobin being brought up with other boys his age and in a more wholesome environment. Petyr said no, and as we readers know is slowly poisoning the child to death.

But now Lysa is dead and Sansa aka "Alayne" is in charge. When Sweetrobin petulantly demands lemon cakes (and I'll come back to this later) and in general acts like a bratty toddler, Sansa thinks to herself that she'd like to spank him. Who wouldn't? I don't think she wants to harm him, just make him behave. I'm sure Ned spanked the Stark children more than once. Then we see Sansa coaxing SR into taking a bath and letting her cut his long-neglected hair. Sansa as new mother figure is kind, but not putting up with nonsense. Sansa is old enough to have seen Catelyn take care of Bran and Rickon and she may have helped her on occasion.

SR seems to have transferred his feelings for his mother to Sansa - who not only resembles Lysa but is now the closest thing he has to a mother (even though his own mother wanted him and Sansa to marry; more on that later). "I want Alayne!" he says when he gets ready to ride down the mountain. He even crawls into Sansa's bed to try to nurse off of her. I know, ick! But no doubt he has slept with Lysa his whole entire life and that is what he is used to doing with his own mother, so why not with his substitute mother?

When we left SR and Sansa in AFFC, Sansa doesn't seem to be much more than dutifully affectionate with him. She had never met him up until Lysa introduced him and then suggested that they marry (for Sansa's claim, natch); he's a real little brat; and Sansa is so desperately trying to keep herself alive and out of danger that I believe her attachment faculties are limited right now. She probably has a pretty big case of PTSD, and no wonder.

Still, she coaxes him to bathe, have his hair cut, get dressed and go down the mountain. Especially significant, I think, is where she helps Sweetrobin over the narrow saddle of stone (that so terrified Catelyn earlier that Mya had to lead her across with her eyes shut). Sansa not only keeps her eyes open, she helps a vulnerable small boy to make the crossing alongside her. Then she builds up his self-esteem by saying that she couldn't have done it without her gallant Ser Sweetrobin. She's revealing herself as someone who is good with small children (as part of her Mother archetype).

I see Sansa's helping SR over the narrow stone saddle as a foreshadowing of her helping him out of a perilous situation. Whether she will save his life herself or merely alert Bronze Yohn Royce or some other powerful lord to the danger and manage to have SR put in his charge, I do not know. But SR is now in peril (from Petyr); Sansa is also in peril partly from Petyr; but Sansa managed to get both SR and herself across the stone saddle. The fact that she says "I couldn't have done it without brave Ser Sweetrobin" makes me wonder if helping him will be a catalyst toward her regaining her own freedom.

I want to close out this Part I of my Sweetrobin analysis with some links between Sansa and Sweetrobin: Birds, lemoncakes and stories.

A robin is a bird; in fact, in the US, "Robin" brings to mind more the bird than the name. (Also, the name Robin in the US is a girl's name and refers to the bird; it is never used for a boy as diminutive of "Robert.") Sansa is "Little Bird," Robert Arryn is "Sweetrobin."

The morning before they are supposed to come down from the Eyrie, Sweetrobin demands lemon cakes. We all know what Sansa's favorite food is. I don't think it's a coincidence that both love lemon cakes.

Sweetrobin loves hearing stories about gallant knights and so on - the same kind of songs Sansa used to love. When they crossed over the stone saddle, Sansa called Sweetrobin her gallant knight because she knew that would please him. SR is bratty in a way Sansa would never have been allowed to be, but he's equally sheltered as to how the world really is, and he has no siblings or friends to interact with. Beneath the brat lies a very lonely little boy who is no doubt starved for real human interaction.

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