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brashcandy

From Pawn to Player: Rethinking Sansa XIV

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Lyanna, do you mean this?

I do indeed. :) Thank you for reposting it.

This scene makes you think a lot if you read the sequence of Sansa’s thoughts in each stage:

[bedding, Lysa screams] – The Hound – Sandor Clegane – The old hound – [Rape attempt by Marillion]– [The old dog tries to help and is kicked] – Lothor – The Hound – [Dream].

Notice how her thoughts begin and end with The Hound? And she goes directly from Lothor to Clegane and back to Lothor, which marks the moment she’s probably begun to see him in the role the other left vacant.

This is a really good illustration of Sansa's thought patterns, I think. The setting is also interesting since it starts with Lysa screaming, i.e. the singing in the sexual sense connection. Then later one, that connotation is reinforced one again with Marillion, how states outright that he will make her sing louder than Lady Lysa. However, Sansa is also strongly linking this to marriage as Lysa's bedding and her own thoughts on Tyrion and later replacing Tyrion are all about marriage and sex/love within marriage.

In light of this, it's perhaps not so surprising that she mentally inserts Sandor into the marriage bed conversation with Myranda Royce later on. I remember the first time I read it, I was surprised by how blatant it was, since the rest of the build up of Sansa's feelings have been described in such a way as to be decidedly non obvious.

One more thing I find interesting, is that after she thinks of him as The Hound, his beastly persona, she immediately switches to Sandor Clegane, the name of the man.

It’s not the first time she does that, and I find the circumstances surrounding this pattern of thought very significant because of the results:

That is interesting yes, especially since overall, she has a hard time naming him, or finding a proper way of addressing him. In her dreams he remains nameless, although it is clear to the reader who he is.

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In light of this, it's perhaps not so surprising that she mentally inserts Sandor into the marriage bed conversation with Myranda Royce later on. I remember the first time I read it, I was surprised by how blatant it was, since the rest of the build up of Sansa's feelings have been described in such a way as to be decidedly non obvious.

That's true, and could I just add, on a bit of a tangent, look at how vulnerable Sansa is from predators like Marillion, even when she's at her guardian's home, and her powerful aunt is in residence. This idea that she could have found some way to escape KL on her own, even with Dontos (who is by no means as capable as Lothor), and arrived at a destination safe and sound is madness.

As for that scene itself (beginning with Lysa's screams), it's another one of those palpable moments when you can see Sansa literally growing up before your eyes. She wanders outside, reflecting on the past, her marriage to Tyrion, how the Hound might feel about Joffrey's death etc. Martin doesn't need to have her vocalize as she did in the first chapter of ASOS that she misses him; it comes through quite clearly in her thoughts and in the symbolic presence of the old dog.

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That's true, and could I just add, on a bit of a tangent, look at how vulnerable Sansa is from predators like Marillion, even when she's at her guardian's home, and her powerful aunt is in residence. This idea that she could have found some way to escape KL on her own, even with Dontos (who is by no means as capable as Lothor), and arrived at a destination safe and sound is madness.

As for that scene itself (beginning with Lysa's screams), it's another one of those palpable moments when you can see Sansa literally growing up before your eyes. She wanders outside, reflecting on the past, her marriage to Tyrion, how the Hound might feel about Joffrey's death etc. Martin doesn't need to have her vocalize as she did in the first chapter of ASOS that she misses him; it comes through quite clearly in her thoughts and in the symbolic presence of the old dog.

:agree:

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So this isn't really on topic but it is Sansa related so I thought I'd say it anyway. I watched the show before I read the books :blushing: and I really didn't like Sansa. I really didn't. I went into the books expecting to dislike her and I ended up loving her! I think that there are a few reasons for this: 1. In the books, she had a plan -no matter how flawed it was- to get out of King's Landing. In the show I feel like every time someone offered to get her out of there she said no and I was like: seriously? why? But in the books it makes sense since she already has a plan. 2. In the books you get to see Sansa's thoughts which I think really adds to her character. She's more internal than a lot of other characters. I feel like her thoughts and seeing things from her POV really helped me to love her character.

Of course even in the books there are moments when I think: really Sansa, really? But that's ok because if she was perfect she wouldn't be an interesting character. And she is still growing up so of course she's going to have moments where she's naive, etc.

So that's all I wanted to say. I hope it's not completely silly. I just thought I would share some of my Sansa feelings with all of you. :)

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So that's all I wanted to say. I hope it's not completely silly. I just thought I would share some of my Sansa feelings with all of you. :)

I think your feelings represent the majority of fans who watched the tv series first. Reading the books helps to give a much more nuanced understanding of her behaviour and the strength it takes to survive in an environment like KL. Of course, there will always be some confirmed Sansa haters, and those who insist that she betrayed her family/helped Ned to his death when she went to Cersei - an act which isn't shown in the tv series. Anyways, thanks for sharing your thoughts :)

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I think your feelings represent the majority of fans who watched the tv series first. Reading the books helps to give a much more nuanced understanding of her behaviour and the strength it takes to survive in an environment like KL. Of course, there will always be some confirmed Sansa haters, and those who insist that she betrayed her family/helped Ned to his death when she went to Cersei - an act which isn't shown in the tv series. Anyways, thanks for sharing your thoughts :)

I do think it was a mistake for her to tell Cersei but no one's perfect. And you're welcome. I don't have as awesome ideas as you guys but I hope I can still share some interesting things anyway. :)

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Oh yeah, it was definitely a mistake, that's indisputable. I know you said you've read this thread, but if you have more time, check out some of the resource material as well or some of the older threads. You might come across something that you're interested in discussing further. :)

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Oh yeah, it was definitely a mistake, that's indisputable. I know you said you've read this thread, but if you have more time, check out some of the resource material as well or some of the older threads. You might come across something that you're interested in discussing further. :)

Yeah definitely. But it's ok. Making mistakes is what makes characters well rounded. I also read the thread before this one but I'd definitely love to read more threads whenever I have time. :) The discussion is always very interesting.

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Nice observation, DIMQ and Brash. Mistakes not just make characters more rounded, mistakes make them human, because it’s part of being human, and what’s more important: a mistake teaches one a precious lesson about life. She learnt her lessons the hard way, and lessons learnt the hard way are never forgotten but stay with us forever. The Spaniards have this gorgeous saying: La letra entra con sangre. Which I once translated as Important lessons cost you blood. Sansa’s mistake cost her blood literally and figuratively, in the form of beatings and losing all she valued the most in life, and yet, she made something out of that and she became stronger, adversity served to bring to the surface her inner qualities that maybe wouldn’t have been tested and known elsewise, which, in the end, makes that suffering worthwhile, if only that.

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I agree with all of you: as human we are our mistakes and our success.

I came to the books also thru the show. At it, I haven't even see Sandor. After the books my fav. is Sandor, and thanks to the reread I begin to appreciate Sansa as she deserves. So as you see, you are not the only one.

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I agree with all of you: as human we are our mistakes and our success.

I came to the books also thru the show. At it, I haven't even see Sandor. After the books my fav. is Sandor, and thanks to the reread I begin to appreciate Sansa as she deserves. So as you see, you are not the only one.

Yay! I'm glad I'm not the only one. :)

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Count me in as another one who developed a new appreciation and love for Sansa because of P2P! I always liked her - in fact, I rather defensively chose to like her and Catelyn just because they attracted such a hatedom and because I'm rather over the whole Spunky Tomboys Are The Only Good Female Characters idea (although, I'm very much a Meera Reed fan). However, my very favorite female character was Dany (who is now sharing that space with Sansa!). But I didn't find Sansa's storyline that exciting until AFFC. However, the P2P discussions have made me see her whole character arc with a new light. I can really see her with more depth and nuance upon each re-read.

As for Sandor - I really didn't care about him at all, in fact, I thought he was just a big jerk, until P2P; now not only do I like him I actually ship San/San (but I'm not a purist yet :D ). In books like these the re-reads are so very helpful to look at the characters with new eyes and deepen the appreciation of the books.

I was a book-reader first but not an avid fan until the TV show and then I picked up the books again, and now I prefer them to the show in many ways.

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Count me in as another one who developed a new appreciation and love for Sansa because of P2P! I always liked her - in fact, I rather defensively chose to like her and Catelyn just because they attracted such a hatedom and because I'm rather over the whole Spunky Tomboys Are The Only Good Female Characters idea (although, I'm very much a Meera Reed fan). However, my very favorite female character was Dany (who is now sharing that space with Sansa!). But I didn't find Sansa's storyline that exciting until AFFC. However, the P2P discussions have made me see her whole character arc with a new light. I can really see her with more depth and nuance upon each re-read.

As for Sandor - I really didn't care about him at all, in fact, I thought he was just a big jerk, until P2P; now not only do I like him I actually ship San/San (but I'm not a purist yet :D ). In books like these the re-reads are so very helpful to look at the characters with new eyes and deepen the appreciation of the books.

I was a book-reader first but not an avid fan until the TV show and then I picked up the books again, and now I prefer them to the show in many ways.

Yay, another Dany fan! :)

I started shipping Sansan in the show because I thought they had an interesting dynamic. In fact, I can't think of 1 scene that Sansa had with Sandor in which I didn't like her (and I didn't like her on the show). Well, maybe there is the scene in Blackwater but that's mostly because I was wondering why Sansa didn't leave with him.

Everything in these threads has made me love Sansa and Sansan even more than I already did so kudos to you awesome people. :)

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Just want to pop in and say Hi, lurker in here. I've just started going back and re-reading Sansa's chapters and Arya's when she's with Sandor. Reading Sandor's dialogue again has been rather interesting to me, reading the meaning of what he says. I'm looking forward to Sansa having a big moment in the next book when *she* finally takes action instead of reacting to situations. She's been going along to get along for quite a while, but I think she's reaching her limit. My guesses are either (or a combination of) 1) she will figure out that LF has been poisoning Sweetrobin, 2) she gets news of Jon's "death" - even though she wasn't close to him, it will reinforce that she's one of the last Starks, with Arya's whereabouts unknown, 3) she runs into Sandor somehow, in a village near the Quiet Isle. Very much hoping she snaps out of the Alayne persona soon. Would love to see her warg.

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Welcome My Little Direwolf :)

I think it's fairly certain that she's going to be in full "player" mode from TWOW until the end of the series, but what form that will take is still unknown. I know what you mean about the "big" moment, but looking at Sansa's arc up to this point, I think we're going to see a continuation of the very subtle kind of development, underscoring Sansa's growth and maturity, which leads to change. In a story like hers, it's critical to pay attention to the "little" moments - the times when we see her resistance to oppression/control manifested in thought or deed - refusing to kneel for Tyrion, saving Dontos or thinking of lies and arbor gold when LF tells her to be Alayne in her heart. I think this is why LF has underestimated her. He's on the lookout for obvious signs of discontent, but in the meantime, Sansa can play the role of compliant daughter, and undermine his plans when it's necessary.

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Welcome My Little Direwolf :)

I think it's fairly certain that she's going to be in full "player" mode from TWOW until the end of the series, but what form that will take is still unknown. I know what you mean about the "big" moment, but looking at Sansa's arc up to this point, I think we're going to see a continuation of the very subtle kind of development, underscoring Sansa's growth and maturity, which leads to change. In a story like hers, it's critical to pay attention to the "little" moments - the times when we see her resistance to oppression/control manifested in thought or deed - refusing to kneel for Tyrion, saving Dontos or thinking of lies and arbor gold when LF tells her to be Alayne in her heart. I think this is why LF has underestimated her. He's on the lookout for obvious signs of discontent, but in the meantime, Sansa can play the role of compliant daughter, and undermine his plans when it's necessary.

:agree:

I think Sansa will definitely rebel against LF in a more subtle way. He won't even see it coming. Maybe she'll do something like tell his plans to some of the other lords in the Vale. (Since we all know they don't like him.) Whatever she does, I know it's going to be awesome. :)

ETA: Welcome My Little Direwolf :) I'm new here too.

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As we delve deeper and deeper into the Beauty and the Beast motif in GRMM’s opera magna, we keep unearthing more and more themes to be explored and added to our growing Project. So far, we have focused in Beauty mostly, but this is not only her story but Beast’s as well. And so, in the spirit of knowing more about this important aspect, our own Mahaut will post a new essay on the symbolism of the many shapes the Beast has due to genetic infirmities or acquired disfigurements.

Congratulations, Mahaut! It was a very enlightening essay*, and I’m sure our readers will enjoy it as much.

*I will post my comments later when I have more time, you gave me many ideas.

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Thanks for everything Milady! So, here is my essay.

Infirmity and Deformity:

A symbolic reading of the beastly figures in ASOIAF

So far in this Beauty and the Beast project, we have not focused on the figure of the Beast yet. This little essay will try to remedy that. In ASOIAF, there is no Prince Charming hidden in an ugly monster. However, in Sansa’s narrative there are characters made ugly by infirmities or deformities, and this essay is all about them as it will try to explain the hidden symbolism of these afflictions. This essay will focus on Gregor Clegane, Petyr Baelish, Tyrion Lannister and Sandor Clegane, as they are all more or less related to Sansa’s storyline. The aim of this essay is to discover the symbolic meanings of these afflictions and see how they fit these characters.

Infirmity

In popular belief, infirmities or deformities are given by gods (positive meaning) or by evil entities (negative meaning). In fact, infirmity is a sign of mysteriousness that can be either good or bad. At first sight, an infirmity is repulsive and may be a difficult condition one has to overcome. This is the case of Hephaestus in Greek mythology. He is a lame one-eyed hunchback god who has to earn his place among the Olympians through his art (smithing). However, in many cultures, infirmity is a “place” to hide a precious knowledge or ability. But this extraordinary power is never gratuitous and the infirmity is always the price to pay. For example, the god Odin had to lose an eye in order to receive the ability to see the invisible. In addition, blind people are often believed to be seers or soothsayers in popular belief. Still in traditional belief, the infirm is protected against magic as he can neither be cursed nor bewitched. For these reasons, the infirm is also considered as an intercessor between this world and the other. He is thus singled out among men, and inspires fear as well as respect in people around him.

There are two types of infirmities:

a. The first type is associated with power (positive meaning) or excessiveness (negative meaning), and includes conditions such as gigantism and dwarfism.

b. The second type is connected to dissymmetry, which either means a loss of balance (negative) or a return to unity (positive).

The giants: Gregor and Petyr

The giants are the symbol of excessiveness. They are the embodiment of the primitive and brutal nature one has to destroy to achieve the civilized state. Their violence and lust for power make up for their stupidity and their ignorance. Their gigantism is also transferred on their personality: giants are gluttonous, greedy, intemperate and lecherous. They are degraded by their passions and their serious lack of moderation. In Greek mythology, giants cannot be killed. It requires a god and a hero–a mortal whose father or mother is a god–to overpower a giant. Zeus needed the help of Heracles to restrain Porphyrion before he was able to throw the giant in Tartarus. A Giant was believed to stand for everything the hero had to defeat to embrace his own true personality.

Gregor Clegane is the first character that pops to mind when giants are mentioned as he is probably the biggest man in all of Westeros. Like his popular Greek counterpart, Gregor is brutal, intemperate, lecherous, and knows no limits as he tortures, kills and rapes without hesitation or remorse. In short, just like his size, his personality is excessive and that leads him to atrocious acts such as the mutilation of his little brother with fire. Gregor also seems impossible to defeat because of his size. In addition, it is probable that, though he was poisoned by Oberyn Martell, he is now back from the dead as ser Robert Strong, which also adds to the myth of his invincibility.

Speaking of size, Petyr Baelish has nothing of a giant in him. However, his father’s sigil is a titan and consequently leads some fans to assume that he is the giant from the Ghost of High Heart’s prophesy. In addition, Petyr Baelish seems to share some personality features with the giants from the myths. Firstly, he is excessive in regards to his personal grudge against Brandon Stark, which turned into a real vendetta against House Stark and into a queer obsession for Catelyn Stark that he later transfers on her daughter, Sansa Stark. He is also brutal as he does not hesitate to kill people like Lysa Arryn or Dontos Hollard. Petyr Baelish also seems unable to restrain himself around Sansa Stark once he has “rescued” her from King’s Landing, as exemplified by the scene where he kisses her in sight of his legitimate wife. He also displays rather clearly his sexual desire for Sansa Stark by kissing her repeatedly while pretending to be her father. Finally, Petyr Baelish can be considered the giant Sansa has to defeat to embrace her true personality, as he somehow holds her prisoner in the Alayne Stone persona.

The dwarf: Tyrion

In most mythologies, the dwarf is associated with caves, mountains, gemstones, treasures and smithing. He is playful, friendly and scary at the same time. In royal courts, he is known to speak very freely and is consequently often associated with the figure of the fool who is allowed to say what he wants without being punished as he is–supposedly–not responsible for what he utters. This is why the dwarf is often connected to the unconscious. On the other hand, he also displays deep cunning, perspicacity and logic. As mentioned earlier, the dwarf is an ambiguous and scary figure as well. Traditionally, he is represented as bearded and old, but he is also associated with children because of his small size and his lack of sexual life. In traditional belief, there is no female dwarf and thus dwarves are magically created or are immortal. For this reason, in Snow White’s tale, the dwarves illustrate her emotional immaturity. History has kept record of famous dwarves such as the Roman Licinius Calvus, who was a brilliant orator, and Alypius of Alexandria, who was renowned for his knowledge and his wisdom. Note also that during the Renaissance, it was fashionable to keep dwarves for company.

Interestingly enough, Tyrion shares many of these features with his popular counterpart. Firstly, his name, Lannister, is linked to gold and wealth in Westeros; as we well know: “A Lannister always pays his debts”. Secondly, he is from Casterly Rock, which stands upon vast caves. Then, his personality is also similar to the one described above. At first, he appears as a very friendly character, but as the story goes on, scary aspects of his personality appear. This is the case when he orders Bronn to kill the singer who offended him or when he personally kills his former lover Shae and his father, Tywin. Tyrion is also known to speak very freely, especially to his nephew, which often lands him in trouble, as later on in the saga he is charged with Joffrey’s murder. He is also connected with the figure of the fool when he is forced to joust on a pig/dog in ADWD. During his time as Hand, Tyrion displays cleverness, cunning and understanding of the Game of Thrones, qualities he shares with the traditional dwarf. However, there is one aspect in which he differs from the popular tales: sexuality. His affair with Shae is an important feature of his narrative in the first three books. His sexuality takes him out of the fairy tale and grounds him in real life. His desire to be loved also makes him definitely human. Still on the topic of sexuality; Sansa (our Belle figure) refuses to have sex with him for various reasons. Maybe, like the dwarves in Snow White’s tale, his role is to highlight her emotional immaturity at that point in the story. The quality connected with his infirmity is power, that he holds during his time as Hand, but which he can also gain thanks to his cleverness and cunning. The flaw is excessiveness, which is expressed through his very free talk, his delusional relationship with Shae and his jealousy as well as his anger, that led him to kill people himself (the singer, Shae and Tywin).

The burnt and lame gravedigger: Sandor

The symbolic meanings of fire are numerous, so what follows is only a short and incomplete list. Usually, fire means life, energy, power and sexual desire. Fire is also the weapon of the gods, as thunder and lightning belong to Zeus. But fire has a dangerous aspect as well, because it burns and destroys, leaving only ashes, a symbol for mourning, solitude, destitution and renunciation. However, grasses and trees are born again from these ashes, thus connecting fire with rebirth and fertility. Note that fire and water are complete opposites, but both are associated with destruction and fertility. Fire also means purification. It destroys everything and kills germs. On a spiritual level, the soul is purified of its stains and sins. The Inquisition had two reasons for burning people: the first one was to purify the soul. The second one was to ease the passing of the soul by destroying its carnal prison. In Greek mythology, Hephaestus is the god of metals and fire. Now, assuming that Sandor is the gravedigger, this leads us to lameness as Hephaestus is lame as well. In Greek mythology, the god of fire is lame. His infirmity seems to be the price he has to pay for his craft. He is married to his polar opposite, the goddess Aphrodite. To limp is also a sign of weakness, incompleteness and unsteadiness. However, it can be compensated with a cane. In addition, lameness can hold a positive signification as it means new found unity. The foot is also a symbol for the soul: a flaw in the walk is also a flaw or a weakness in the soul. In mythology, the Greek hero Achilles, though he is not lame, has one weak spot: his heel. There is a reason for it being the heel: Achilles’s tendencies to violence and wrath are considered as flaws of the soul by the Ancient Greeks, and wrath is Achilles’s weak spot. Sometimes, lameness means a spiritual wound: in the Bible, Jacob, unbeknownst to him, sees and wrestles with God himself. After his fight, Jacob becomes lame for having seen God.

As far as the reader knows at this point in the story, Sandor has only experienced the destructive aspect of fire, for it took away half his face. But the fire did not only take his face, but it seems that it took his innocence, his hopes and his ideals as well. Sandor would then be in a renunciation state symbolized by his ashen grey armour. Earlier, it was mentioned that the fire is purifying and kills the germs. The last time the reader sees Sandor, he is dying because of an infected wound at the leg. There is a medical technique called cauterization, that consists of burning a body part to remove or close off a part of it. The aim of this operation is to mitigate damage or remove infection. The technique was widespread before the discovery of antibiotics and was effective to close amputations and stop loss of blood. Cauterization was also believed to prevent infection as well. So wouldn’t it be quite ironical that the same fire that took Sandor’s face would give him his life back? The Elder Brother is a renowned healer, so it wouldn’t be too improbable to assume that he knows about cauterization. Assuming that Sandor is the gravedigger, he is now lame. Like Hephaestus, he is lame and associated with fire. Will he get a gorgeous wife as well? Sandor also shares a similarity with Achilles: the rage that scares Sansa. The limp could be the mark left by his (former?) wrath, this flaw of the soul according to the Ancient Greeks. The limp could also be interpreted as the mark of a spiritual revelation, a bit like in Jacob’s case. Having just had a near-death experience and living among a community of monks, it would not be too far-fetched to assume so. Finally, Sandor’s burns fit into the category of dissymmetrical infirmities as they break the symmetry of his face. In Sandor’s case, this injury definitely means a loss of balance as it leads him to create the Hound’s persona. Lameness is also a dissymmetrical affliction. So if infirmities work like mathematics, and negation of a negative term is positive, then Sandor is truly at rest and his lameness would be the symbol of his new found unity ^_^ .

Fin ^_^

ETA: Sources:

CHEVALIER Jean, GHEERBRANT Alain: Dictionnaire des symboles, mythes, rêves, coutumes, gestes, formes, figures, couleurs, nombres, Laffont, Paris, 1982

MOREL Corinne: Dictionnaire des symboles, mythes et croyances, L'Archipel, Paris, 2004

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