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brashcandy

From Pawn to Player: Rethinking Sansa XV

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Probably not Edmure and Sansa unless they turn out to be descended, somehow, from the Arryns. Lines of inheritance are biological - the inheritance can't jump over to Edmure just because his sister was married to Jon Arryn nor because he is Sweetrobin's uncle.

I don't think the Royce's are the Winterfell heirs. Catelyn says that there are cousins in the Vale, but she can't remember the family name. That suggests it some obscure family and not a famous one like the Royces.

Is it only down the line? I thought once Sweetrobin was Lord it was his relatives that mattered and his maternal relatives could be considered once the paternal line was exhausted. I very well could be wrong. So Sansa with Tully blood is in line for Riverrun and the Royces with Stark blood woul be in line for Winterfell, but with no Arryn blood there's no consideration even if the line is exhausted. Correct?

Here's the passage on the Royce cadet branch.

By law Sansa is next in line of succession, so Winterfell and the north would pass to her.” His mouth tightened. “To her, and her lord husband. Tyrion Lannister. I cannot allow that. I will not allow that. That dwarf must never have the north.”

“No,” Catelyn agreed. “You must name another heir, until such time as Jeyne gives you a son.” She considered a moment. “Your father’s father had no siblings, but his father had a sister who married a younger son of Lord Raymar Royce, of the junior branch. They had three daughters, all of whom wed Vale lordlings. A Waynwood and a Corbray, for certain. The youngest… it might have been a Templeton, but…”

Hmm... The Waynwood and the Corbray is something I had never considered.

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Yes down the line. In case of need you just keep going back.

Similarly with the Royces and Winterfell. The Royces don't become heirs because of that marriage, the descendants of the waynwood, corbray and A N Other marriages are the heirs (in theory) . If they were all extinct then you'd go back further generations of the Stark line until you find some living descendant. Presumably Alys Karstark would be in the running if they have to go back really really far. Luckily for everybody (apart from professional heir finders and family tree experts) Rickon and Bran and Arya and Sansa are alive if hidden.

Because you keep going back along the paternal line without limit it never can be exhausted. It's just a question of going back far enough. Although obviously the degree of relation will get increasingly distant as you go back.

All the relationship gives you is a claim. You still need people to support that claim, it's not automatic succession.

ETA Sweetrobin's relation to the Tullys via his mum gives him a claim on Riverrun (assuming there are people who might support it) but it doesn't give the Tullys a claim on the Eyrie. Lines of descent run back, not forward as it were. For the same reason Sansa is not heir to Casterly Rock, nor can she be.

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OK, I rather think that Petyr's bridge to the Tyrells was burnt when he prevented Willas from winning the super Sansa lottery so I don't think that he has any credit with them any more.

Petyr was able to work with the Tyrells because he led them to believe there was away to get Maergery on the throne. What has he got to offer them now? His interests seem to run counter to theirs.

On the other hand we know there are still people in the financial administration who were Littlefinger's placemen and the Kettleblacks (Cersei's arrest is happening at about the same time as Sansa is leaving the Eyrie so Petyr probably doesn't know that he's lost the Kettleblacks at the time he's talking to Sansa) who seem to be me to be more likely candidates to be Baelish's friends than the Tyrells who would probably happily fry up his kidneys for breakfast if they could.

I'm not sure why you keep alluding to a current Tyrell-LF schism over Sansa, when Highgarden apparently has no idea how Sansa escaped, where she is, or if she is even alive. There is no way in hell HG would let the surviving Stark heir remain a disguised commoner in LF's power considering the machinations being concocted up North with the Lannister's pet Bolton (ie, a claim on WF based on Sansa's younger 'sister'). A Lannister creature uniting the North can only be detrimental to the Tyrells.

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Yes down the line. In case of need you just keep going back.

Similarly with the Royces and Winterfell. The Royces don't become heirs because of that marriage, the descendants of the waynwood, corbray and A N Other marriages are the heirs (in theory) . If they were all extinct then you'd go back further generations of the Stark line until you find some living descendant. Presumably Alys Karstark would be in the running if they have to go back really really far. Luckily for everybody (apart from professional heir finders and family tree experts) Rickon and Bran and Arya and Sansa are alive if hidden.

Because you keep going back along the paternal line without limit it never can be exhausted. It's just a question of going back far enough. Although obviously the degree of relation will get increasingly distant as you go back.

All the relationship gives you is a claim. You still need people to support that claim, it's not automatic succession.

ETA Sweetrobin's relation to the Tullys via his mum gives him a claim on Riverrun (assuming there are people who might support it) but it doesn't give the Tullys a claim on the Eyrie. Lines of descent run back, not forward as it were. For the same reason Sansa is not heir to Casterly Rock, nor can she be.

Thanks for clarifying.

So bringing this claim discussion back to LF and his plans regarding Sansa... (Assuming LF believes Bran and Rickon are in fact dead.)

If the Lannisters are overthrown and their bestowed lordships get tossed with them (highly likely given the Red Wedding), Sansa is a potential insurance policy on Harrenhal, Riverrun and Paramount of the Riverlands as well as taking back the North from the Boltons. When Tyrion made his fake offer of the Riverlands to LF he seemed particularly interesting in having the Tully's under him. Even if true I'm not certain what effect the Tullys being dead has on that desire for him now.

LF also has the potential to marry Sansa to a cadet Royce, a Waynwood, or a Corbray for a more solid claim to the North or may seek to install one of them in the North and use Sansa's "blessing" to reinforce the claim. What I see as much more likely here is that one of these families recognizes Sansa and has designs on the North of their own. It also offers a powerful tool for Sansa to use though I don't see her making any marriage pact for herself in the immediate future. Still LF isn't popular and it wouldn't be unreasonable to think one of more of those families might be willing to side with Sansa in the hopes of a marriage or some other benefit. Lyn Corbray in particular I can see trying to backstab LF for a shot at the North.

As far as the Vale goes, LF seems limited to Sweetrobin or Harry unless he thinks he can eliminate both and sway the outcome of who inherits. I still see him as wanting Sansa for himself. Marrying her to Harry for political and birth station reasons just seems like inflicting losing Cat on himself all over again.

Finally, back to Butterbumps! original question, I don't see any way the Tyrells fit into this particular political equation. That doesn't rule out future scheming with them or even an ongoing plot that's still playing out, but I don't think we have enough evidence to point to what that might be.

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I agree with the idea that Petyr plans to make Sansa heir to as much of Westeros as possible and then marry her himself - or at least marry her himself even if "all" she has is Winterfell and the North. Petyr has a creepy and twisted fixation on Sansa herself beyond any claim that she has; when he first met her he made her feel as if she were naked (and she's eleven!). He wants Sansa as his Catelyn 2.0, and one that he can mold into his very own Galatea to boot. This "Catelyn" will never leave him for another man (or so he thinks and wants to groom Sansa into).

I think that Harry the Heir is just someone he's using to get Sansa to fall into line with his plans - "I have this wonderful handsome gallant knight to marry you!"

I've also given some passing thought to the idea that Petyr wants to marry Sansa to Aegon and thus make her Queen (or at least that's the plan if Aegon is the real deal or at least wins the Iron Throne) - however, I've concluded that Petyr doesn't want Sansa to marry anyone else no matter what. He wants her for himself full stop. He was foiled of Catelyn, was probably never serious about Lysa as anything but a stepping-stone to further his aims, but Sansa is going to be his and only his. And if he can get his hands on the North, the Riverlands and the Vale into the bargain - POWAAAH! Unlimited POWAAH! I'm reminded of Euron Crow's Eye, he who thinks that he can tootle his horn and make Daenerys into his saltwife, but I think Petyr has somewhat more of a grasp on reality. (Rather than relying on semi-supernatural means to control large dangerous creatures he knows nothing about.)

As far as Sansa's inheriting the Riverlands and the Vale: Right now Edmure Tully is exiled and imprisoned, and his wife is pregnant. Roslin Frey-Tully is slender and delicate - she may or may not survive the birth, and the child may or may not survive either. This child, male or female, would be Edmure's heir. After Kidlet is Brynden Blackfish, who is missing, and in any case is childless. After Brynden Tully come Catelyn's children, as she is the eldest girl. Sansa is as far as the world knows, her only remaining child, so yes, she'd inherit Riverrun. If Rickon is found, he may or may not then be heir to both the North and the Riverlands. All hinges on whether Edmure's child lives.

The Vale: The idea was that Harry would inherit if Sweetrobin died. That last Alayne/Sansa chapter in AFFC outlined his relationship to SR in detail so I won't repeat it here. As proposed, the idea was that SR would die, Harry would be the new Lord of the Vale (presumably taking the Arryn name) and Sansa would be Lady of the Vale through marriage. I suppose her heir (son or daughter) would then inherit the Vale plus any of his/her mother's claims.

As I said, I don't think Petyr means to marry Sansa to Harry but I think he has some plans to get his paws on the Vale. Perhaps he figures he can bribe and sweet-talk whoever finally sits on the Iron Throne into giving him the Vale.

Inheriting Winterfell: Catelyn and Robb had this conversation in ASOS because no-one wanted Winterfell to pass into Lannister hands. IIRC, Catelyn mentioned that Ned had a great-aunt (?) who married a Royce, and that someone in the Vale would then inherit Winterfell if Sansa was disinherited. Robb's solution was to legitimize Jon Snow.

IIRC there was an interview with GRRM where he said that if a lordship passed to someone with a different name (due to the male line dying out) then the new lord would take on the house name; that is how the son of the Stark lord who had a child with Abel the Bard became a Stark despite not being born with the name. And then there's Dorne, where the eldest child, male or female, inherits, and it seems that inheriting daughters pass on the family name.

Whew. That got long-winded! I think that Petyr wants Sansa to have as many claims as possible, but wants her for himself first and foremost. I also agree that Petyr's modus operandi is to create mayhem and chaos and profit from the consequences. I don't think the Tyrells figure large in his plans except that he wants them as allies rather than enemies.

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I agree with the idea that Petyr plans to make Sansa heir to as much of Westeros as possible and then marry her himself - or at least marry her himself even if "all" she has is Winterfell and the North.

I think that Harry the Heir is just someone he's using to get Sansa to fall into line with his plans - "I have this wonderful handsome gallant knight to marry you!"

As far as Sansa's inheriting the Riverlands and the Vale: Right now Edmure Tully is exiled and imprisoned, and his wife is pregnant. Roslin Frey-Tully is slender and delicate - she may or may not survive the birth, and the child may or may not survive either. This child, male or female, would be Edmure's heir. After Kidlet is Brynden Blackfish, who is missing, and in any case is childless. After Brynden Tully come Catelyn's children, as she is the eldest girl. Sansa is as far as the world knows, her only remaining child, so yes, she'd inherit Riverrun. If Rickon is found, he may or may not then be heir to both the North and the Riverlands. All hinges on whether Edmure's child lives.

The Vale: The idea was that Harry would inherit if Sweetrobin died. That last Alayne/Sansa chapter in AFFC outlined his relationship to SR in detail so I won't repeat it here. As proposed, the idea was that SR would die, Harry would be the new Lord of the Vale (presumably taking the Arryn name) and Sansa would be Lady of the Vale through marriage. I suppose her heir (son or daughter) would then inherit the Vale plus any of his/her mother's claims.

As I said, I don't think Petyr means to marry Sansa to Harry but I think he has some plans to get his paws on the Vale. Perhaps he figures he can bribe and sweet-talk whoever finally sits on the Iron Throne into giving him the Vale.

Whew. That got long-winded! I think that Petyr wants Sansa to have as many claims as possible, but wants her for himself first and foremost. I also agree that Petyr's modus operandi is to create mayhem and chaos and profit from the consequences. I don't think the Tyrells figure large in his plans except that he wants them as allies rather than enemies.

I agree with much of this, and I think Petyr is not content to see her marry Harry for good. He will find a way around that. Oddly enough, the Vale is the weakest of Sansa's claims. She has no blood ties there. Harry The Heir does, but I suspect something more going on ... I think Petyr Baelish may have Gulltown Arryn blood. He was big in Gulltown before King's Landing, and he father was a seagoing merchant. Baelish says nobody talks of the Gulltown Arryns because they are uncouth, but the house of Arryn is pretty much scraping the bottom of the barrel with Harry already - if he and Sweetrobin died, the last holders of the Arryn name would perhaps be the kind of uncouth traders who might let their daughter marry into a family of Bravvosi counterparts.

A Lannister creature uniting the North can only be detrimental to the Tyrells.

At the time, it wasn't though. Remember, they wanted the Lannister alliance through Margaery, just not with Joffrey.

Later it turned into a rivalry with the Lannisters, and that was basically Cersei's doing

For appearances' sake, they want Sansa dead, but truthfully, I don't think they care all that much what became of her after the Purple Wedding.

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I'm not sure why you keep alluding to a current Tyrell-LF schism over Sansa, when Highgarden apparently has no idea how Sansa escaped, where she is, or if she is even alive. There is no way in hell HG would let the surviving Stark heir remain a disguised commoner in LF's power considering the machinations being concocted up North with the Lannister's pet Bolton (ie, a claim on WF based on Sansa's younger 'sister'). A Lannister creature uniting the North can only be detrimental to the Tyrells.

Should she appear however, it will become clear to the Tyrells just how much they got played by Littlefinger. They may be ignorant now, but they won't be forever. The only issue is of course if they can do something about it once it comes out. As it stands, the Tyrells are in power, but just like the Lannisters, they are also beset on all sides. They have Ironborn raiding their shores, the Florents basically having deserted to Stannis, they have Aegon on their doorstep and Dorne probably aligning themselves with Aegon too. Plus that Margaery is imprisoned by the Faith. Like the Lannisters, they are nominally in power now, but it still looks rather shite for them longterm, the QoT or no. :)

For appearances' sake, they want Sansa dead, but truthfully, I don't think they care all that much what became of her after the Purple Wedding.

Oh for certain. The Tyrells would probably rather put their filthy mitts on Sansa themselves. They don't care at all about who Cersei wants dead if they can get something out of it in the end, like a nice claim to Winterfell, Harrenhall and Riverrun, which Sansa could give them. I actually think the Tyrells got really miffed with the Lannisters about Sansa. Sure, Margaery was made Queen, but I think they had their sights on her quite early on as a nice prize to catch, which the Lannisters didn't really realise as quickly as they should have, at which point I think they should have married Sansa to Lancel or Tyrek or some Lannister basically the day they broke off the engagement between Sansa and Joffrey, to secure the Lannister claim to the North, not as an afterthought with Tyrion. Considering that Tywin knew he was going to off Robb with some certainty, Arya was "lost", it's rather surprising he didn't ask sooner when it came to keep a firm grip on Sansa. Of course, at court Sansa was "a traitor's daughter", but if they had shipped her off to Casterly Rock with Lancel or something, they could have kept here there as a "captive" and had a more quiet ceremony.

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OK, I rather think that Petyr's bridge to the Tyrells was burnt when he prevented Willas from winning the super Sansa lottery so I don't think that he has any credit with them any more.

Petyr was able to work with the Tyrells because he led them to believe there was away to get Maergery on the throne. What has he got to offer them now? His interests seem to run counter to theirs.

On the other hand we know there are still people in the financial administration who were Littlefinger's placemen and the Kettleblacks (Cersei's arrest is happening at about the same time as Sansa is leaving the Eyrie so Petyr probably doesn't know that he's lost the Kettleblacks at the time he's talking to Sansa) who seem to be me to be more likely candidates to be Baelish's friends than the Tyrells who would probably happily fry up his kidneys for breakfast if they could.

So my thinking on the matter is that LF's going to Cersei to "betray" the plot with Willas could have been a feint of sorts, and part of a bigger plan.

We find out later that LF offered himself to marry Sansa after explaining the Tyrell's design to take her for themselves. I think this could have been a "clever" move. To explain, I'm trying to rethink LF's supposed obsession with Sansa to figure out if something deeper is going on, so I wanted to probe a different angle to think through this, and acknowledge that my premise in doing so may be wrong. So with that said, I wonder if Sansa was meant to end up married to a Lannister to add Casterly Rock to her overall "package."

LF doesn't state things outright, but operates through suggestion usually. By coming to the Lannisters to reveal the Tyrell designs on Sansa, he is showing them that he's "loyal" to them. By suggesting himself as husband, he might have been underhandedly suggesting that Sansa needed to be married ASAP, knowing full well that a Lannister would be the one to fill this duty. I can't imagine that LF actually thought his suggestion to marry Sansa would come to fruition. I have to think that there was an ulterior motive and suggestion embedded in his offering to do this.

This leads into "games within games" territory, but LF isn't known for blind loyalty, but cleverness and ambition. Perhaps coming to the Lannisters with the Tyrell plot looked more believable if LF proffered the suggestion from the angle of his own gains, that is, that he's not telling them out of loyalty, but from his own interest. I'm not sold on this explanation, but I do think LF would know that a high heiress like Sansa wouldn't be allowed to marry him even with his Harrenhal holdings; the only one this would work for is Lysa, which he surely knew. Nor would a marriage to her at this point have really served his goals, providing that Sansa isn't a goal unto herself.

I'm not sure that coming to the Lannisters with this conclusively points to LF's severing ties to the Tyrells. It looks like LF has no loyalty to the Tyrells by doing this, which is probably precisely the point. And I'm not sure this hurts the Tyrell's interests either, as Sansa now has a claim to Casterly which could be used later should some "ill luck" befall the Lannisters, which I kind of think is in the works. I wonder if the Tyrells were waiting on Sansa's "resume" to be a bit more padded before deploying her for themselves. Because if they still have a deal with LF, she could still help them consolidate more power.

Lummel, over PM you had mentioned LF's remark of the war of the 3 queens as evidence that he knows about Dany; Dany hadn't occurred to me at first, but rather Cersei-Marg-Sansa. For some reason I'd taken this remark to suggest that he intended to make Sansa a queen.

But in terms of LF and the Tyrells working together still, I need to think through it a lot more...I've given myself enough reason to consider its possibility, but I'm not sure it works.....

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I think Daenerys makes better sense as the third Queen because firstly she is a queen (always an advantage) and timeline-wise he should be aware to some extent that she is about and has dragons, maybe even that she has an army depending on whether his news comes from Quarth or Astapor. Daenerys captures Meereen over a year before Sansa leaves the Eyrie with Sweetrobin.

The problem with Sansa being the third Queen is that she isn't. To make her a queen either the Kingdom of the North would need to be resurrected or some kind of cunning plan would be required to marry her to a king.

In any case your interpretation of Petyr's words have to link back to your own personal theory of what Lord Baelish wants to achieve.

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I initially thought the three Queens referred to Marg, Cersei and Olenna the Queen of Thorns but Dany is definitely a possibility too.

However, I am not convinced that LF is completely lying to Sansa about the Harry the Heir plot and doesn't really want them to marry. Yes, I know he lies through his teeth and yes I know he ultimately wants Sansa for himself, but I still don't think that rules out a plan to have Sansa and Harry marry, then eventually get rid of him likely after Sansa has a boy with Harry through which her claim to the Vale would be secured. Then he could get rid of Harry and marry Sansa himself and rule the Vale in a much more secure fashion than he has now. His security in the Vale as Sweetrobin's stepfather is very tenuous at the moment. Also, taking further the idea that he planned for a Lannister to marry Sansa when he gave up the Tyrell's plot to them, then LF already attempted to do this very thing once before. He expected that a Lannister would marry Sansa, it's a bonus that it was Tyrion, and plans to kill him thereafter. That seems to be his modus operandi.

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I think Daenerys makes better sense as the third Queen because firstly she is a queen (always an advantage) and timeline-wise he should be aware to some extent that she is about and has dragons, maybe even that she has an army depending on whether his news comes from Quarth or Astapor. Daenerys captures Meereen over a year before Sansa leaves the Eyrie with Sweetrobin.

The problem with Sansa being the third Queen is that she isn't. To make her a queen either the Kingdom of the North would need to be resurrected or some kind of cunning plan would be required to marry her to a king.

In any case your interpretation of Petyr's words have to link back to your own personal theory of what Lord Baelish wants to achieve.

I think LF just wants to achieve the ability to keep playing, and to keep trolling everyone he possibly can. I've been questioning his pedophilia for a while (I'm really rethinking the sincerity of his "loves), but only began toying with the Tyrell option since that Tapestries thread kind of instigated me, but I think it could fit.

I don't want to veer off topic completely with this, but the Dany angle has me puzzled. Granted, the Meereenese have been trolling Dany non-stop, but I'd think that her dragons would be a liability to the sort of game LF plays in the same way Stannis' rigidity would defuse LF. Are you thinking that maybe LF would back her-- either seemingly or genuinely-- should she arrive in Westeros? Are you thinking he wants to be ready if she arrives in terms of being prepared to bend at least initially, in that opposing dragons is not the sort of risk LF would take? That I agree with-- that at least initially he would not be fool enough to challenge her, and would likely try to make her believe that he's hers. But I couldn't see LF wanting Dany in power long-term, so I'm inclined to think there's something else cooking even if he's referring to Dany in that statement. I might be missing the benefit to him if she were in power, though, so if you're thinking of something I missed, tell me!

I was leaning toward Sansa as Queen, not through the North titles, but in the chance that LF and the Tyrells planned to expose the Lannisters and take over control of the IT in their own right as the last major family outside of Dorne. If this is a real plan, then LF might be generously rewarded for securing Sansa for a Tyrell marriage (if the Tyrells intend to supplant the Lannisters, Sansa could be used for her Casterly, North, Riverlands claims). Whether or not LF actually intends to turn Sansa over for something like this is immaterial, but I think a plan like this could be in the works at least from the Tyrell's perspective.

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Dragons are power. OK, massive destructive power, but power nonetheless. If you are Baelish (an unpleasant thought I know) and you want to be playing the Game of Thrones into the future then you have to come to terms with that power. You can't just ignore it. Daenerys has the potential to turn up in Westeros and to overturn the game.

The last time someone with dragons turned up they established three brand new shiny ruling great lordly houses and choose to allow the others to remain. So potentially Daenerys could turn up and with a single belch burn up all Petyr's carefully hoarded heirs and leave him nowhere. So unless he is obtuse or Hodorifically dim he is going to realise that if he wants to stay in the game he has to have a contingency plan to get into Daenerys' good books or hope that there is a dragon proof hole that he crawl into somewhere.

My problem with Littlefinger organising a Sansa-Tyrell marriage is the same as my problem with littlefinger wanting a Stark restoration. He could have saved himself a lot of bother by just allowing the Sansa-Tyrell marriage to happen in the first place rather than preventing it. OK you get round that by proposing that intense Trollishness drives his personality. Well maybe. I suppose I find that less satisfactory than a Count of Monte-Cristo desire to assert his superiority and self-worth through revenge :dunno: .

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Dragons are power. OK, massive destructive power, but power nonetheless. If you are Baelish (an unpleasant thought I know) and you want to be playing the Game of Thrones into the future then you have to come to terms with that power. You can't just ignore it. Daenerys has the potential to turn up in Westeros and to overturn the game.

The last time someone with dragons turned up they established three brand new shiny ruling great lordly houses and choose to allow the others to remain. So potentially Daenerys could turn up and with a single belch burn up all Petyr's carefully hoarded heirs and leave him nowhere. So unless he is obtuse or Hodorifically dim he is going to realise that if he wants to stay in the game he has to have a contingency plan to get into Daenerys' good books or hope that there is a dragon proof hole that he crawl into somewhere.

My problem with Littlefinger organising a Sansa-Tyrell marriage is the same as my problem with littlefinger wanting a Stark restoration. He could have saved himself a lot of bother by just allowing the Sansa-Tyrell marriage to happen in the first place rather than preventing it. OK you get round that by proposing that intense Trollishness drives his personality. Well maybe. I suppose I find that less satisfactory than a Count of Monte-Cristo desire to assert his superiority and self-worth through revenge :dunno: .

I think that if LF does know about Dany he must have a plan for when she finally after all these books arrives in Westeros. I wonder if Sansa could fit into his plan. Maybe as a way to get Dany to like him since after all Sansa could get Dany the support of the North and if LF brought Sansa to Dany maybe that would get him in her good books. Maybe it's a bit of a stretch but I wanted to keep things Sansa-related instead of going off on a Dany tangent since I am prone to doing that. :lol:

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I think that if LF does know about Dany he must have a plan for when she finally after all these books arrives in Westeros. I wonder if Sansa could fit into his plan. Maybe as a way to get Dany to like him since after all Sansa could get Dany the support of the North and if LF brought Sansa to Dany maybe that would get him in her good books. Maybe it's a bit of a stretch but I wanted to keep things Sansa-related instead of going off on a Dany tangent since I am prone to doing that. :lol:

I think LF must know about Dany: he was involved I. The initial arguements with King Bob and Ned about Dany and the FM. He will have been keeping a track on her.

P.S. Nothing wrong with going on about Dany. She rocks.

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Alright folks, I'm going to post one of my essays for the B&B project. It's going to be divided into about 5 parts. Hope you all enjoy :)

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Awakening the Beast: Female Sexuality and Empowerment in Sansa’s Arc

I don't understand this insistence that Sansa absolutely must be saved by someone else, that she is totally unable for the rest of her life to take care of herself. Why force her into the damsel in distress trope forever and ever?

Lyanna Stark, in the thread ‘Sandor’s Return’

A free woman in an unfree society will be a monster.

Angela Carter, The Sadeian Woman and the Ideology of Pornography

Sansa Stark is often read quite insistently by readers of George R.R. Martin’s ASOIAF series as a passive, victimized character, carried along by the whims of fate and the desires of others. This viewpoint is particularly entrenched by events within the narrative concerning threats of sexual violence and other predatory behavior in relation to her character. My intention in this essay is to provide a definitive intervention into such perceptions, arguing that whilst Martin wants us to appreciate Sansa’s vulnerability, he does not intend for readers to view her as the quintessential damsel in distress. Instead, as the essay will highlight, these threats appear to galvanize Sansa’s strength and resistance to patriarchal authority, beginning a journey into womanhood marked by the acquisition of creative power and illuminating the development of her erotic desires. These accomplishments are enabled through two very important active modes – the gaze and touch. In order to fully communicate my ideas on this subject, I’ve found it enlightening to include discussion of British writer Angela Carter and her revisionist work on two iconic fairy tales, Beauty and the Beast and Little Red Riding Hood. I believe that both tales hold currency for assisting with the decoding of Sansa’s arc, but it is truly in Carter’s revisions ‘The Tiger’s Bride’ and ‘The Company of Wolves’ respectively, that we see these young girls come alive, with a voice of their own, and desires that seek fulfillment. With agency and identity as the organizing themes of these stories, both Carter and Martin can be said to be on quest not to show the beastly nature in men, but to awaken the beast in their heroines.

From its inception, feminist theory has been focused on examining the denial of equality and agency for women within patriarchal societies. The male gaze in particular has come under scrutiny by feminist film theorists for how it operates in framing women as objects and constructing gender differences, with masculinity functioning as active and desiring, whereas femininity occupies a space of passive inaction. Laura Mulvey, drawing on Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis, was one of the first critics to explain how the male gaze operates as a marginalizing force:

In a world ordered by sexual imbalance, pleasure in looking has been split betweenactive/male and passive/female. The determining male gaze projects its phantasy onto the female figure which is styled accordingly. In their traditional exhibitionistrole, women are simultaneously looked at and displayed, with their appearancecoded for strong visual and erotic impact so that they can be said to connoteto-be-looked-at-ness. Women displayed as sexual object is the leitmotif of erotic spectacle … she holds the look, plays to and signifies male desire.

Women emerge as spectacles, not subjects, and spectators are encouraged to identify with the male protagonist who controls the look and the action. However, this look is not entirely unproblematic for the male figure. The woman – due to her lack of a penis – evokes castration anxiety in the male, who must find a way to disavow/combat this threat in order to maintain a sense of control and omnipotence. I have quoted Mulvey’s “solution” at length here due to its importance for later analysis:

The male unconscious has two avenues of escape from this castration anxiety: preoccupation with the re-enactment of the original trauma (investigating the woman, demystifying her mystery), counterbalanced by the devaluation, punishment or saving of the guilty object (an avenue typified by the concerns of the film noir); or else complete disavowal of castration by the substitution of fetish object so that it becomes reassuring rather than dangerous (hence overvaluation, the cult of the female star). This second avenue, fetishistic scopophilia, builds up the physical beauty of the object, transforming it into something satisfying in itself.The first avenue, voyeurism, on the contrary, has associations with sadism: pleasure lies in ascertaining guilt (immediately associated with castration), asserting control and subjecting the guilty person through punishment or forgiveness. Sadism demands a story, depends on making something happen, forcing a change in another person, a battle of will and strength, victory/defeat, all occurring in a linear time with a beginning and an end. Fetishistic scopophilia, on the other hand, can exist outside linear time as the erotic instinct is focused on the look alone.

While Mulvey’s theory was undoubtedly important for establishing the primary divisions in looking, many scholars found it unsatisfying for its neglect on the question of female spectatorship. Do women not desire too? Are they always passive? Since then, other feminist film theorists have produced valuable work on the female gaze, chief among them Mary Ann Doane, Kaja Silverman and Linda Williams. The latter’s essay ‘When the Woman Looks’ begins by highlighting just why the activity of looking is so challenging for women:

There are excellent reasons for this refusal of the woman to look, not least of which she is often asked to bear witness to her own powerlessness in the face of rape, mutilation and murder. Another excellent reason for the refusal

to look is the fact that women are given so little to identify with on the screen…

Like the female spectator, the female protagonist often fails to look, to return the gaze of the male who desires her. In classic narrative cinema, to see is to desire, allowing the look of the male protagonist to regard the woman at the

requisite safe distance necessary to the voyeur’s pleasure, with no danger that she will return the look and in so doing express desires of her own.

Williams goes on to state two examples of the female look within the cinema, but notes that these examples – the silent screen vamp and the “good girl” heroine – are quite problematic. The former’s “dubious moral status” requires punishment by the end, and “undermine the legitimacy and authentic subjectivity of the look, frequently turning it into a mere parody of the male look”. Quoting Doane, Williams explains:

In both cases, as Doane suggests, “the woman’s exercise of an active investigating gaze can only be simultaneous with her own victimization.” The woman’s gaze is punished in other words, by narrative processes that transform curiosity and desire into masochistic fantasy.

Williams turns to examining the horror film genre to further explore the punishment of the good girl heroine, and suggests that contrary to traditional readings, the body of the monster might not signify the repressed sexuality of the civilized male, but as the “feared power and potency of a different kind of sexuality (the monster as double for the women)”:

The female look – a look given preeminent position in the horror film – shares the male fear of the monster’s freakishness, but also recognizes the sense in which this freakishness is similar to her own difference. For she too has been constituted as an exhibitionist object by the desiring look of the male. There is not much difference between an object of desire and an object of horror as far as the male look is concerned… The strange sympathy and affinity that often develops between the monster and the girl may thus be less an expression of sexual desire (as in King Kong, Beauty and the Beast) and more a flash of sympathetic identification.

The lack that is credited to women in phallocentric culture isn’t a lack at all but rather a “protective fantasy” aimed at disguising the potency of that very difference. What the male child fears is that not the mother’s castration, but the power to “mutilate and transform the vulnerable male”. Williams concludes by saying:

So there is a sense in which the women’s look at the monster is more than simply a punishment for looking, or a narcissistic fascination with the

distortion of her own image in the mirror that patriarchy holds up to her; it is also a recognition of their similar status as potent threats to a vulnerable male power. This would help explain the often vindictive destruction of the monster in the horror film and the fact that this destruction generates the frequent sympathy of the women characters, who seem to sense the extent to which the monster’s death is an exorcism of the power of their own sexuality…Thus, I would suggest that, in classic horror film, the woman’s look at the monster offers at least a potentially subversive recognition of the power and potency of a non-phallic sexuality. Precisely because this look is so threatening, it is violently

punished.

As we can see, the female look resists easy classification and does not necessarily confer the same power and authority that is implicit in the male gaze. It is perhaps for this reason that some feminist theorists have instead underscored the importance of touch for women rather than the gaze. Women do not, and as the difficulty in constructing theories of female spectatorship would imply, cannot depend on sight alone to communicate their desires or agency. This is why touch becomes critically important if one is seeking to foreground female agency within a patriarchal society that does not recognize women as autonomous beings. Catherine Lappas makes this clear in her essay, ‘Seeing is believing, but touching is the truth’, which looks at female spectatorship in Angela Carter’s The Company of Wolves:

For Carter … it is sight in combination with touch, rather than sight alone, which most accurately reflects the complex and polymorphous potential of female desire. Challenging psychoanalyses’ privileging of sight as the supreme form of knowledge, she reveals the radical potential of touch... Carter … implies that truth is constituted differently for women than it is for men. For if under patriarchy sight is the privileged way of knowing, when appropriated by the female subject, knowing becomes equated with touching. But for Carter, this difference is not equated with inferiority – touching is an alternate way of knowing that has been repressed by patriarchal ideology.

Elisabeth Grosz (quoted in Lappas) sheds further light on this:

Vision performs a distancing function, leaving the looker unimplicated or uncontaminated by its object. With all the other senses, there is a contiguity between the subject and object, if not an internalization and incorporation of the object by the subject. The tactile, for example, keeps the toucher in direct contact with the object touched; taste further implicates the subject, for the object must be ingested, internalized in order for it to be accessible to taste.

Touch (and taste) therefore allows for greater connection between subject and object, undermining the supremacy of the gaze and opening a space for a feminine subjectivity to be articulated. In so doing, a breakdown occurs between the old dichotomies of self/other, male/female, passive/active which the gaze inherently manifests. In turning to an analysis of ‘The Company of Wolves’ and ‘The Tiger’s Bride’, stories which deal with the fear of sexual violence and the victimization of women within patriarchal societies, what we witness is not the subjugation of young women beneath the yoke of beastly authority, but rather their negotiation and exploration of their own erotic desires; a confrontation of the beast within themselves.

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I was leaning toward Sansa as Queen, not through the North titles, but in the chance that LF and the Tyrells planned to expose the Lannisters and take over control of the IT in their own right as the last major family outside of Dorne. If this is a real plan, then LF might be generously rewarded for securing Sansa for a Tyrell marriage (if the Tyrells intend to supplant the Lannisters, Sansa could be used for her Casterly, North, Riverlands claims). Whether or not LF actually intends to turn Sansa over for something like this is immaterial, but I think a plan like this could be in the works at least from the Tyrell's perspective.

The way I see it, the Tyrell's already have practical contorl over the IT. Their the militay power behind it, they have memebers on the council and Margaery has Tommen's ear. Cersei's job as Queen Reagent is temporary. I can't think of a reason why they would want to upset the arrangement.

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PART 2

Angela Carter (1940-1992) sought to rewrite fairy tales from a decidedly feminist perspective, challenging the representation of women as passive and bringing into sharp focus the patriarchal conditions that restrict women’s agency. The sexual danger and eroticism present within these fairytales are brought to the surface in Carter’s revisions, but with the specific purpose of overturning the old misogynistic narratives. As Carter herself says: “I am all for putting new wine in old bottles, especially if the pressure of the new wine makes the old bottles explode.”

The first explosion we will examine is Carter’s revision of Charles Perrault’s ‘Le Petit Chaperon Rouge’ (Little Red Riding Hood). In Perrault’s tale, LRRH sets out into the woods on a visit to her grandmother’s house with some refreshments for the sick old woman. On her way there, she encounters a wolf who enquires about the nature of her journey. The wolf wants to eat LRRH but has to be wary about the huntsmen working nearby. Upon learning the location of Granny’s House, the wolf tells LRRH he will go visit Granny as well, setting off in the another direction to see who will arrive first. LRRH spends some time picking flowers, and the wolf gets there ahead of her, promptly proceeds to eat the old woman, and then gets into bed to await LRRH. When she arrives, the wolf – pretending to be Granny – tells her to get into bed with him, and LRRH takes off her clothes and does so. Once in the bed, we have the famous exchange between the two:

“Grandmother, what big arms you have!”

“All the better to hug you with, my dear.”

“Grandmother, what big legs you have!”

“All the better to run with, my child.”

“Grandmother, what big eyes you have!”

“All the better to see with, my child.”

“Grandmother, what big teeth you have got!”

All the better to eat you up with.”

At this point, LRRH is consumed, and Perrault ends his tale with a moral:

Children, especially attractive, well bred young ladies, should never talk to strangers, for if they should do so, they may well provide dinner for a wolf. I say “wolf” but there are various kinds of wolves. There are also those who are charming, quiet polite, unassuming, complacent, and sweet, who pursue young women at home and in the streets. And unfortunately, it is these gentle wolves who are the most dangerous ones of all.

What are we to take away from the ending of Perrault’s tale? In the oral versions of the story, Little Red Riding Hood is about a girl’s journey into womanhood, and the ensuing issues surrounding sexuality and agency. In Perrault’s treatment of the tale, the young girl is powerless in the face of predatory male sexuality, and ends up as a helpless victim, raped and murdered. The lesson for young girls is that they should “know better” than to associate with strange men, who will ultimately be the cause of their demise. LRRH doesn’t achieve any agency in the version by the Brothers Grimm either. In their tale, adapted from Perrault’s, LRRH (and her grandmother) is saved by a passing huntsmen who cuts her from the belly of the wolf. The end of this version echoes Perrault’s as well, as LRRH is now chastened by the error of her ways:

Then all three were delighted. The huntsman drew off the wolf’s skin and went home with it; the grandmother ate the cake and drank the wine which Red-Cap had bought, and revived, but Red-Cap thought to herself, “As long as I live, I will never by myself leave the path, to run into the wood, when my mother has forbidden me to do so.

Patriarchal order is restored, and LRRH learns her lesson. “Leaving the path” becomes a metaphor for female disobedience and desires which only create havoc. Ideal women should be passive, obedient and above all wary of strange men who will gobble them up.

Carter sets about to subvert this portrayal of LRRH in her story The Company of Wolves with a heroine who not only survives the encounter with the wolf, but actually invites it. The story opens with the lore of werewolves and lean wolves in the forest, where even the setting conspires to entrap you:

You are always in danger in the forest, where no people are. Step between the portals of the great pines where the shaggy branches tangle about you, trapping the unwary traveler in nets as if the vegetation itself were in a plot with the wolves who live there, as though the wicked trees go fishing on behalf of their friends – step between the gateposts of the forest with the greatest trepidation and infinite precautions, for if you stray from the path for one instant, the wolves will eat you. They are grey as famine, they are unkind as plague.

The forest is presented to us as a dangerous environment where one can easily fall victim to wild beasts. However, upon meeting the protagonist of the story, Little Red Riding Hood, we see that she is not afraid to journey through the woods at all. The portals and gateposts which Carter writes of above suggests that one is entering into new territory and as a result the unexpected can take place. This is symbolic of a liminal space which Cynthia Jones expands on in her essay Into the Woods: Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf:

The forest in folklore is often associated with fear; it is the place where

anxieties and desires clash into one another. This is the space where all

metamorphoses take place. The deeper one goes into the forest, the darker

and more ominous it becomes, as if digging through the depths of the human

mind, going into dark corners where one would normally never dare to explore…

This space becomes a place that is neither here nor there. It is a space of

transition, where one is no longer in a fixed state… In the liminal space, one

is at the threshold…

Significantly, when we meet LRRH she too is at an important threshold, neither here (child) nor there (woman). She has just started her menstrual cycle and Carter introduces her to us as a young girl who “does not know how to shiver”.

Children do not stay young for long in this savage country. There are no toys for them to play with so they work hard and grow wise but this one, so pretty and the youngest of her family, a little late-comer, had been indulged by her mother and grandmother who’d knitted her the red shawl that, today, has the ominous if brilliant look of blood on snow; her breasts have just begun to swell; her hair is like lint, so fair it hardly makes a shadow on her pale forehead; her cheeks are an emblematic scarlet and white and she has just started her woman’s bleeding, the clock inside her that will strike, henceforward, once a month.

The sexual imagery of the blood on snow is immediately noticeable in Carter’s description. LRRH is about to enter the forest, a setting the reader already knows is violent and threatening, and in her innocent naivete towards the danger, seems to have been set up as the perfect prey that Perrault warned about in the moral to his story. And yet, like the werewolves Carter speaks of in the opening of the story, LRRH is more than she seems. When she meets a handsome man in the forest, LRRH is immediately charmed and the two are soon “laughing and talking like old friends”. She even lets him carry her basket where she had placed a knife for her protection. When the man suggests a challenge to see who reaches to Granny’s house first, Little Red acquiesces:

‘Is it a bet?” he asked her. ‘Shall we make a game of it? What will you give me if I get to your grandmother’s house before you?’

‘What would you like?’ She asked disingenuously.

‘A kiss.’

Commonplaces of a rustic seduction; she lowered her eyes and blushed.

It’s important to understand that LRRH is very much “in on the game” here and is actively involved in the flirtation. Her question to the man is noted to be “disingenuous,” and although she refuses to leave the path and trust his compass, she dawdles along the way to make sure that the handsome stranger wins his bet. Kimberly J. Lau observes that Carter portrays LRRH as the “sexual nymphet, typical object of male fantasy” in the above exchange, but explains:

Carter is just toying with that fantasy, writing her own moral pornography as

a way of further dismantling a world of sexual absolutes. As Carter writes her,

Little Red Riding Hood is, ultimately, a sexual agent, more akin to Tex Avery’s

stripteasing Red than to Perrault’s innocent. Early on, Carter hints at her emerging

phallic power: “Her father might forbid her, if he were home, but he is away in the

forest, gathering wood, and her mother cannot deny her.” Despite (or perhaps

because of?) her alluring innocence, Little Red Riding Hood shares her father’s

power, participates in his authority over her mother.

When the man reaches Granny’s house, he proceeds to remove his clothes, revealing himself as a werewolf to the terrified old woman. Unlike Little Red Riding Hood whose clock has just begun to tick, time is winding down for the grandmother, and she can only stare at the man’s body in shock and horror before he eats her:

He strips off his shirt. His skin is the colour and texture of vellum. A crisp stripe of hair runs down his belly, his nipples are ripe and dark as poison fruit but he’s so thin you could count the ribs under his skin. He strips off his trousers and she can see how hairy his legs are. His genitals, huge. Ah! huge.

The man-wolf’s sexual potency is stressed here, and we know the danger into which LRRH is walking. When she discovers the bones of her grandmother burning in the fire and the man-wolf blocks the exit, LRRH experiences a momentary sense of fear. She comments on the man’s big eyes, and then upon hearing wolf howling outside, goes to the window and sympathizes with the cold they must be feeling. At this point we read:

She closed the windows on the wolves’ threnody and took off her scarlet shawl, the colour of poppies, the colour of sacrifices, the colour of her menses, and since her fear did her no good, she ceased to be afraid.

This description has led some critics to claim that the story merely details Little Red Riding Hood’s passive acceptance of rape; however, what we see is not a damsel in distress, but a girl actively deciding to take her own pleasure in this interaction. The man no longer represents a threat to her, not because she has decided to let him have his way, but because she is responding to her own desires. This becomes clear in what follows, as LRRH proceeds to undress herself slowly, asking at each point what she should do with the discarded clothing. When she stands naked before him, she then begins to undress him:

‘What big arms you have.”

‘All the better to hug you with.’

Every wolf in the world now howled a prothalamion outside the window as she freely gave him the kiss she gave she owed him.

‘What big teeth you have!’

She saw how his jaw began to slaver and the room was full of the clamour of the forest’s Liebestod but the wise child never flinched, even when he answered:

‘All the better to eat you with.’

The girl burst out laughing; she knew she was nobody’s meat. She laughed at him full in the face, she ripped off his shirt for him and flung it in the fire, in the fiery wake of her own discarded clothing.

The girl’s declaration that she is “nobody’s meat” profoundly articulates Carter’s feminist vision in this story. LRRH’s identity is not vested in a patriarchal vision of herself as weak and helpless, needing to fear the big bad wolf. Instead, we have an authoritative assertion that belies societal constructions of femininity as passive and powerless. The traditional exchange between the wolf and LRRH is re-coded by Carter to make LRRH’s questions not those of a fearful girl, but those of seductive flirtation and anticipation. Interestingly, Carter breaks up the exchange, with the first part taking place when she has newly arrived. She tells the man about his big eyes and feels actual alarm:

She wanted her knife from her basket but she did not dare reach for it because his eyes were fixed upon her – huge eyes that now seemed to shine with a unique interior light, eyes the size of saucers, saucers full of Greek fire, diabolic phosphorescence.

If we recall the theoretical outline in Part I of this essay, LRRH’s fear, not of the man-wolf himself, but of his gaze, makes perfect sense. Within the gaze, she is trapped and terrified, objectified within a system that denies her agency. For this brief moment in the story, she is the victim. And what is it that breaks this tension? That causes LRRH to “cease to be afraid”? It is the appeal to another sense, the howling of the wolves, which disrupts the mastery of the stranger’s gaze, and inspires a feeling of sympathy in LRRH when she looks out the window. Perhaps Williams’ theory on the female gaze in the horror film holds some relevance here. Although the man-wolf attests that these wolves are his brothers, it is LRRH who seems to have created a bond/affinity with them in that instant. The stranger is a werewolf, part human himself, but LRRH’s sympathy is given to these pure “monsters” and it is this potential identification that awakens her own animal desires and ends her fear, what Williams refers to as the power of a non-phallic sexuality. As Merja Makinen states:

Reading Carter’s fairytales as her female protagonists’ confrontations with desire,

in all its unruly ‘animalness’, yields rich rewards… Read the beasts as the projections

of a feminine libido, and they become exactly that autonomous desire which the

female characters need to recognize and reappropriate as a part of themselves.

By the time the exchange picks back up between the two, touch is the sense which is now foregrounded, and LRRH is leading the way. She talks of his big arms and he replies that these will be better to hug her with; we are moving towards the territory of equality and mutual pleasure, not exploitation and assault. As the story comes to a close, we are given a forecast of future harmony between LRRH and the wolf:

She will lay his fearful head on her lap and she will pick the lice from his pelt and perhaps she will put the lice into her mouth and eat them, as he will bid her, as she would do in a savage marriage ceremony.

This brings to mind Elisabeth Grosz’s point about how taste functions in implicating the subject with the object – as there is actual ingestion taking place. In presenting her vision of equitable gender relations, Carter has elevated the other senses of sound, touch and taste, and revealed how these can contribute to pleasure and a more profound happiness outside of the traditional patriarchal reliance on sight. In taking the wolf into herself, LRRH’s own bestial nature is underscored, along with her partner who is no longer half beast. We learnt in the first part of the story that the burning of a werewolf’s clothes meant that they would be condemned to live as a wolf forever, and in the moment of their passion LRRH throws the man-wolf’s clothing into the fire. She has secured her beast and in the final lines of the story, she sleeps “sweet and sound” in her grandmother’s bed, “between the paws of the tender wolf”.

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PART 3

'The Tiger’s Bride' is Carter’s revision of the traditional beauty and the beast tale, where the beast is transformed at the end into a handsome prince. The heroine of Beaumont’s tale – the version of the myth that we are most familiar with today – is chaste and demure, self-sacrificing and obedient, and in the end she is magically rewarded with a gentile husband. Things do not quite work this way in Carter’s story. As Meyre Santana da Silva attests:

Carter’s specific goals are to update, twist and demythologize the classic

fairy tales from a feminist perspective… Carter uses fairy tales to treat themes

relating to liberation and change, re-evaluating the female experience in

patriarchal society. She intends to deconstruct masculinity and femininity and

it’s explored through the contemporary feminist lens.

The first important strategy Carter utilizes in lending credence and agency to her protagonist is through the employment of first person narration. The girl’s ability to tell her own story immediately establishes her as an authority figure, undermining the natural inclination to see her as a victim of the patriarchy. The opening line of the story illustrates this achievement:

My father lost me to the Beast at cards.

What is ostensibly an admission of the transactional exploitation of women under patriarchy becomes in the heroine’s voice a simple matter of fact. Of course these events affect her considerably, but there is a sense of inner strength and courage that infuses her tone throughout the story. When she does finally experience an emotional breakdown of sorts, it is more akin to a breakthrough, and linked to her experience of empowerment, not weakness. Indeed, it is the girl’s father whom we see in tears, and this is associated with his moral failings. The word “lost” in the opening sentence also carries a double meaning. By the end of the story we realize that it is the father who has truly lost, and the daughter who has won. As Santana da Silva noted above, Carter wants us to rethink our views on masculinity and femininity and the qualities we associate with both.

In the heroine’s thoughts, her father is revealed as a foolish, indulgent man who expects to live a life of constant luxury in the South, away from the harsh climate of their home in the North. Eventually of course, winter reaches them too, described by the girl as “flocking against the windowpanes to mock my father’s expectations of perpetual pleasure”. The father is frivolous and carefree, and as the game continues with La Bestia, or Milord as the girl calls him, the father bets everything he has, until only his daughter is left. Throughout the game we are privy to the girl’s observations, and her ironic and sarcastic comments and deft descriptions of her father and Milord, expose these men as essentially desperate and comical respectively. The beast wears a mask and a wig to hide his features, and stinks so badly of heavy perfume that the girl wonders what he must smell like to require such excessive masking. She also takes note of his physical discomfort:

There is a crude clumsiness about his outlines, that are on the ungainly, giant side, and he has an odd air of self imposed restraint, as if fighting a battle with himself to remain upright when he would rather drop down on all fours.

The girl’s gaze is active in this scene where she becomes the take home prize; even though she has been treated as an object and commodified, she is not afraid to take stock of her circumstances and those responsible for it. Her father receives the harshest censure:

Gambling is a sickness. My father said he loved me yet he staked his daughter on a hand of cards. He fanned them out; in the mirror, I saw wild hope light up his eyes. His collar was unfastened, his rumpled hair stood up on end, he had the anguish of a man in the last stages of debauchery. The draughts came out of the old walls and bit me; I was colder than I’d ever been in Russia, when nights are coldest there.

When the game is finally over and the father has lost, the beast’s valet informs the girl that she will be escorted to Milord’s palazzo in the morning. The valet plays an important role in the story, acting as go between his master and the girl, and translating the beast’s speech, which only comes out in grunts and growls. As the girl looks ahead to what awaits her with fear and trepidation, she remembers her old childhood nurse, who would tell her of a tiger man who would come and take her away if she did not behave.

But if this young lady was not a good little girl and she did not eat her boiled beetroot, then the tiger-man would put on his big black travelling cloak lined with fur, just like your daddy’s, and hire the Erl-King’s galloper of wind and ride through the night straight to the nursery and -

Yes, my beauty! GOBBLE YOU UP!

The way in which fairytales are used as moralizing codes and dictates for feminine obedience is skillfully introduced into the narrative by Carter via this memory. According to Santana da Silva:

In the nurse tale can be observed the installation of the fear of the father, a

pre-Oedipally necessary construction. It can also be associated to the anticipation

of the consumption of the marriage night. The tale installs fear of defloration.

Defloration is linked to female destruction. It causes abjection and the woman’s

sexuality is denied. The nurse’s “gobble you up” suggests the sexual relation as

something that causes female annihilation.

The fact that this tale represents an implicit warning for female sexuality becomes evident in the girl’s continued recollections of the things she could not reveal to her nurse during this time. In the company of “giggling nursemaids” she learns of “mysteries of what the bulls did to the cows” and hears of the gossip concerning the waggoner’s daughter, who has gotten pregnant, but is so notoriously ugly that no one can imagine who the father is.

Yet, to her shame, her belly swelled amid the cruel mockery of the ostlers and her son was born of a bear, they whispered. Born with a full pelt and teeth; that proved it. But when he grew up, he was a good shepherd, although he never married, living outside the village and could make the wind blow any way he wanted to besides being able to tell which eggs would become cocks, which hens.

The girl’s rustic education in the realities of sex between animals and those between humans and beasts acts as a kind of perverse preparation for her current predicament. Despite the nurse’s best efforts, she is not totally an innocent.

Unlike the magnificent palace filled with servants to tend to Beauty’s every whim that we read of in other popular versions of the tale, Milord’s palazzo is an isolated, desolate place, which appears to the girl as though one is in the process of moving out, or never fully moved in. Entering the beast’s room, she meets him defiantly, refusing to smile. It is left to the valet to communicate what it is that his master wishes, a request which causes him considerable difficulty to utter:

“My master’s sole desire is to see the pretty young lady unclothed nude without her dress and that only for the one time after which she will be returned to her father undamaged with bankers’ offers for the sum which he lost to my master at cards also a number of fine presents such as furs, jewels and horses-”

The girl’s response to this is not tears or pleading but instead a “raucous guffaw” reminding her of her nurse’s remonstrations that no young lady laughed like that, to which she thinks, “But I did. And do”. The girl refuses to subject herself to this humiliating scene and instead suggests a strict sexual contract of one night, after which the beast can pay her as he would any other woman or not. She is pleased to see that upon this qualification she has wounded him to the heart.

Throughout this initial meeting between the girl and Milord, she is the one who stares at him, subjecting him to her gaze while the valet is making the perverse request, and he is the one to evade her eyes. After she rejects his offer and suggests her own, a single tear drops from the beast’s eye. This episode truly begins the deconstruction of traditional representations of masculinity and femininity. The power and authority allotted to masculinity is otherwise seen in the girl’s control of this space, where she unsettles the valet, causes the beast to feel a sense of shame over his voyeuristic impulses, and refuses to participate in the dehumanizing contract. Her raucous laughter is reminiscent of LRRH’s own hilarity in The Company of Wolves when the man-wolf declared that he would eat her up. Milord wants to set up a ritual staging of the male gaze, with the girl acting as lifeless object for his pleasure, but in denying his request, it is the girl’s subjectivity which we are meant to recognize and credit. Thomas Bonnici states:

Carter builds the surface structure of an innocent virgin girl and paradoxically

imbues it with desire and autonomy. From the very beginning of her conscious life

the daughter is aware of the prettiness of her rosy cheeked face, her curls and her

body … The detailed description that the girl gives of the Beast proves that,

reciprocally, the female gaze is an element to be taken into account and does not

permit itself to be passive.

The valet escorts the girl back to her room where she is met with a clockwork maid to powder her cheeks and assist with her clothing. Santana da Silva posits that the mechanical helper can be read as representing the woman whose subjectivity is denied. She is a creature of the patriarchy, devoid of real feelings or desires, simply existing to fulfill the wishes of another. After the girl twice rejects the beast’s gifts and continues to refuse to be naked before him, the valet arrives with a new request that she join Milord to go out riding. It is in this open space where the girl begins to glean that she and the beast might not be so dissimilar after all:

I was a young girl, a virgin and therefore men denied me rationality just as they denied it to all those who were not exactly like themselves.

Yet, the transformative potential of this connection is only grasped when the beast proceeds to strip off his clothes and reveal his naked body to the girl in powerful act of reversal which subverts the hegemony of the male gaze:

“If you will not let him see you without your clothes-”

I involuntarily shook my head-

“- you must, then, prepare yourself for the sight of my master naked.”

The river broke on the pebbles with a diminishing sigh. My composure deserted me; all at once I was on the brink of panic. I did not think I could bear the sight of him, whatever he was. The mare raised her dripping muzzle and looked at me keenly, as if urging me. The river broke again at my feet. I was far from home.

“You,” said the valet, “must.”

When I saw how scared he was that I might refuse, I nodded.

The reed bowed down in a sudden snarl of wind that brought with it a gust of the heavy odour of his disguise. The valet held out his master’s cloak to screen him from me as he removed the mask. The horses stirred.

The tiger will never lie down with the lamb; he acknowledges no pact that is not reciprocal. The lamb must learn to run with the tigers…

I therefore, shivering, now unfastened my jacket to show him I would do him no harm…

The girl is not afraid for herself, but for the beast. Stripping naked before him is no longer a humiliating experience, but rather a gesture of reciprocity and affinity. She experiences a sense of liberation and empowerment as she finally faces a beast that does not in fact gobble her up, but allows for the recognition of her sexuality and the expression of repressed desires. When she returns to the room, she begins to take off her clothes, describing the process of removing each item as akin to flaying. Santana da Silva describes it as ridding herself of the “artificiality of gender construction”:

Her maturation comes with her sexual realization, her self-knowledge, discovery

of her sexuality, her freedom from “the nursery fears.

She resolves to send the mechanical maid to her father (who is once again wealthy) and goes to find the beast in his den. Conditions in the castle have changed as well, with the valet also feeling secure in revealing his animal nature. The beast’s room is no longer filled with the scent of the heavy perfume, but his natural rank animal scent. Approaching the animal, she realizes that his “appetite need not be my extinction.” Indeed, she realizes that the beast is more afraid of her than she is of him. She stretches out her hand to signal the wish for contact, and the beast in return sniffs the air but can smell no fear.

Slowly, slowly, he began to drag his heavy, gleaming weight across the floor towards me.

A tremendous throbbing, as of the engine that makes the earth turn, filled the little room; he had begun to purr.

The sweet thunder of this purr shook the old walls, made the shutters batter the windows until they burst apart and let in the white light of the snowy moon…

He dragged himself closer and closer to me, until I felt the harsh velvet of his head against my hand, then a tongue, abrasive as sandpaper. “He will lick the skin off me!”

And each stroke of his tongue ripped off skin after successive skin, all the skins of a life in the world, and left behind a nascent patina of shiny hairs. My earrings turned back to water and trickled down my shoulders; I shrugged the drops off my beautiful fur.

The transformation that occurs at the end of the story is of the girl into a beast herself, and once again Carter foregrounds the importance of touch and taste in creating intimacy and breaking down the binaries of beast/beauty, self/other, masculine/feminine. According to Jenny Fabian, the intense shaking of the house symbolizes the crumbling of “the very edifice of gender construction.” Thomas Bonnici captures the essential significance of Angela Carter’s work:

By means of the time-battered and problem-ridden fairy-tales, Carter has

tried to denounce patriarchy and its containment ideology … the reciprocity

the gaze, equal sexual relationship and the appreciation of female desire

produces a world vision, if not fully women-centered, at least, of poise and

balance. If the formula of beast equals female sensuality is correct, then

Carter has struck on the much debated elements in feminist trends. Patriarchy

has created such conditionings on the female that the free expression of

sensuality and voice became impossible and differentiated her from the

male in her most inherent rights. Through Carter’s fiction and especially

through her rewriting of the old fairy-tales, the reader in feminist thought

succeeds in visualizing the fearless approach of the female towards

sensuality, her recovery of subjectivity and a new empowerment.

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PART 4 (The end!)

Sansa Stark continues this tradition of heroines who manage to maintain their courage and dignity in the face of patriarchal oppression which often manifests as explicit or implicit sexual threats. As we see with Little Red Riding Hood and the tiger’s bride, female sexuality has been constructed as an exploitable resource, and the challenge for these young girls is to recognize the legitimacy of their desires (or lack thereof), and to reclaim what has been repressed and subsumed by various societal forces. As I have tried to show with the discussion of Carter’s short stories, there is a serious need to rethink what constitutes feminine agency and authority. Like LRRH who must go through the forest to reach Grandma’s house, and the tiger’s bride who has to venture to the beast’s palazzo, Sansa too experiences has fearful experiences and emerges not cowed or demoralized but stronger and more resilient. In the discussion to follow, I am going to focus on three events in Sansa’s storyline, which I think work to illustrate her gradual empowerment throughout the novels. Like Carter, Martin shows a similar reliance on the female gaze in Sansa’s story, and is equally invested I would argue in deconstructing masculinity and femininity as discrete categories.

The first event under analysis is the meeting between Sandor and Sansa on the night of the Blackwater battle. Returning to her room, she finds the Hound in her bed, and is initially terrified and perplexed by his presence. On first glance, the scene appears to plays out as a typical representation of the woman as damsel in distress, at the mercy of a powerful, domineering male figure. The reading that tends to result from such a view is that Sandor went to Sansa’s room on that night to rape her, and she was lucky to escape with her innocence intact. What I want to suggest however, is that Sansa does not indeed escape untouched or unaffected by this incident, but it doesn’t take the form of trauma or sense of violation.

Sandor, despite his later resorting to violence in a desperate moment, is not the all powerful masculine authority in this scene. He has just deserted the hellish Blackwater battle where he had to confront his fear of fire in an even more destructive form. His perceived failures, on both the personal and public front, weighs heavy:

“Don’t you want to ask who’s winning the battle, little bird?”

“Who?” she said, too frightened to defy to him.

The Hound laughed. “I only know who’s lost. Me.”

He is drunker than I’ve ever seen him. He was sleeping in my bed. What does he want here? What have you lost?”

“All.” The burnt half of his face was a mask of dried blood.

What soon becomes clear is that the Hound isn’t there to terrorize or assault Sansa, but wants her to accompany him when he leaves the city. This, however, is contingent upon her consent, a necessity that constructs Sansa not as passive receiver, but rather someone with the power to make a choice, to decide what it is that she wants to do.

Sandor’s insistent “look at me” also gives Sansa the control of the look in this moment. He is the one asking for recognition and acceptance, offering himself up as the object of desire for her contemplation. What happens next illustrates the inherently problematic nature of the gaze for adequately attending to both male and female sensibilities. When Sansa closes her eyes (as he pulls her closer), Sandor takes it as a rejection, and reacts violently. The gaze is what he has relied on throughout most of his interaction with Sansa as a way for him to make meaning and sense of their relationship and how she feels about him. We only have to think back to their first conversation after the tourney feast to realize that the same is not true for Sansa. What she has used as her means of knowing and communicating her feelings for Sandor is the sense of touch; from her active and instinctive reaching out to him in moments of empathy and compassion, to the sensation of comfort and protection in wearing his cloak. There can be little wonder then that after the violent threat has passed, Sansa proceeds to touch Sandor:

Some instinct made her lift her hand and cup his cheek with her fingers. The room was too dark for her see him, but she could feel the stickiness of the blood, and a wetness that was not blood. “Little bird,” he said once more, his voice raw and harsh as steel on stone. Then he rose from the bed. Sansa head cloth ripping, followed by the softer sound of retreating footsteps.

Martin deliberately subjugates the sense of sight in this description, relying instead on what Sansa feels to communicate to her and the reader about Sandor’s emotional state. As noted before, touch (and taste) implicates the subject (Sansa) with the object (Sandor) in a much more intimate and meaningful manner. What is interesting to consider is the productive potential of this implication/incorporation for Sansa’s sexuality. We’ve noted in the past that the unkiss is a way for Sansa to assume agency over her sexual development/awakening, and I think this reading remains valid. However, to tease out additional strands, what is a kiss if not a means of tasting, indeed, the harmony of both touch and taste? The unkiss shouldn’t be written off as foolish fantasy as many readers tend to do, but warrants appreciation as the next logical step in the development of Sansa’s autonomous desires, and a construction of “truth” for her that corresponds to a very real internal logic.

The next event under consideration is Sansa’s marriage to Tyrion, specifically the wedding night. Once again, Martin deconstructs the traditional association between masculinity and mastery, and ends the chapter with Sansa’s firm rejection of Tyrion. It is evident that what little power Tyrion has in this scene comes not from any innate sense of power and authority, but rather that he is relying on patriarchal sanctions – the law of the father (and literally his father) – to legitimize his actions and give him the courage to rape his wife. It’s a distasteful prospect for Tyrion, and we see him struggling not only between his own personal sense of right and wrong vs. the public mandate that he has been given to “take what is his by right,” but also with his desire for Sansa and his awareness of her complete lack of interest in him.

What’s interesting in a chapter which is from Sansa’s POV is how much “inside” information Martin gives us into Tyrion’s psyche and his anxieties. Whilst we could argue about the authorial handling of the chapter with respect to certain details, I think Martin’s overall achievement was in showing how both Sansa and Tyrion end up rejecting their respective patriarchal mouthpieces – Septa Mordane and Tywin Lannister. However, and this is a big however, Sansa dismissal of the Septa’s words is founded on concrete lack of desire for her husband, transforming Tyrion’s offer of a reprieve into an outright rejection of him as an object of desire.

It’s important to understand just why Sansa’s active deployment of the gaze is so central to the question of her sexuality and agency.

Look at him, Sansa told herself, look at your husband, at all of him, Septa Mordane said all men are beautiful, find his beauty, try. She stared at the stunted legs, the swollen brutish brow, the green eye and the black one, the raw stump of nose and crooked pink scar, the coarse tangle of black and gold hair that passed for his beard. Even his manhood was ugly, thick and veined, with a bulbous purple head. This is not right, this is not fair, how have I sinned that the gods would do this to me, how?”

Sansa’s looking takes on distinct properties of the male gaze in this scene. She not only looks at Tyrion, but zeroes in and singles out each of his imperfections that are distasteful to her. It is not a passive rejection, in that she thinks to herself that she is merely not attracted to him, but a remarkably active appraisal, that judges at the same time as it looks, establishing Sansa’s right to find pleasure in her husband and asserting that female erotic desires are just as valid as male ones. Somehow, I don’t think such active truth seeking is what Septa Mordane had in mind when she told Sansa all men were beautiful.

This scene also seems pertinent to the theory by Linda Williams on the “flash of sympathetic identification” that can take place between the girl and the monster in the horror film, which is not related to sexual desire, but to the awareness on the girl’s part that she and the monster have been constructed as lacking within normative male identity:

He is as frightened as I am, Sansa realized. Perhaps that should have made her feel more kindly toward him, but it did not. All she felt was pity and pity was death to desire. He was looking at her, waiting for her to say something, but all her words had withered. She could only stand there trembling.

There can be no happy ending for this beauty and beast pairing and to stress, there should not be. This is not an example of the classic fairytales and myths where one can magically fall in love with a suitor visiting them in the dark of night.

I should note here that Tyrion has not yet embraced his “monster” persona at this point in the story; he’s still trying to embody the ideals of a good husband and desirable partner for Sansa. In order words, he is still invested in the patriarchal aspiration of a loving family despite his awareness of why it can’t work; he’s still a Lannister. And it is perhaps for this reason that he is opened to the symbolic power of Sansa’s rejection as a castrating force, a devastating blow to the male psyche which Tyrion spends the remainder of the time in his marriage trying to disavow, first through voyeurism, then via fetishistic scopophilia. Let’s recall what Mulvey says about how these operate:

The male unconscious has two avenues of escape from this castration anxiety:

preoccupation with the re-enactment of the original trauma (investigating the

woman, demystifying her mystery), counterbalanced by the devaluation,

punishment or saving of the guilty object (an avenue typified by the concerns

of the film noir); or else complete disavowal of castration by the substitution of a

fetish object so that it becomes reassuring rather than dangerous (hence overvaluation,

the cult of the female star). This second avenue, fetishistic scopophilia, builds up the

physical beauty of the object, transforming it into something satisfying in itself.

The first avenue, voyeurism, on the contrary, has associations with sadism: pleasure

lies in ascertaining guilt (immediately associated with castration), asserting control

and subjecting the guilty person through punishment or forgiveness. Sadism demands

a story, depends on making something happen, forcing a change in another person, a

battle of will and strength, victory/defeat, all occurring in a linear time with a beginning

and an end. Fetishistic scopophilia, on the other hand, can exist outside linear time as

the erotic instinct is focused on the look alone.

Tyrion the Voyeur – I’m just going to pull some quotes from the text to begin the discussion:

He’d risked his skin to avoid the bedding ritual, hoping to preserve the privacy of his bedchamber, but that hope had been dashed quick enough. Either Sansa had been stupid enough to confide in one of bedmaids, every one of whom was a spy for Cersei, or Varys and his little birds were to blame.

Sansa’s misery was deepening every day. Tyrion would have gladly broken through her courtesy to give her what solace he might, but it was no good.

I want her, he realized. I want Winterfell, yes, but I want her as well, child or woman or whatever she is. I want to comfort her. I want to hear her laugh. I want her to comfort her. I want her to come to me willingly, to bring me her joys and her sorrows and her lust.

“The last thing my wife needs is more songs,” said Tyrion.

Tyrion the Fetishist

She is just as comely as the Tyrell girl. Her hair was a rich autumn auburn, her eyes a deep Tully blue. Grief had given her a haunted, vulnerable look; if anything, it had only made her more beautiful. He wanted to reach her, to break through the armor of her courtesy.

Sansa wore a gown of silvery satin trimmed in vair with dagged sleeves that almost touched the floor… Tyrion had never seen her look more lovely, yet she wore sorrow on those long satin sleeves. “Lady Sansa,” he told her, “you shall be the most beautiful woman in the hall tonight.”

----

In the examples for Tyrion as voyeur, we see him alternating between the devaluation of Sansa, suggesting that she may have been stupid enough to confide in her bedmaids, to wanting to get past her courtesy armor and have her confide in him, and finally in controlling what she hears when he tells the singer that his wife needs no more songs. The case for Tyrion as fetishist can be made if we consider how he begins an over-valuation of Sansa’s looks, going so far as to compliment her in front of his mistress, and seeming to gain perverse pleasure from the association of her beauty with the sorrow and grief she is experiencing.

It all underscores the dysfunction in their relationship. For Tyrion, Sansa herself represents the lack that threatens him – he is barred from touching her in any intimate manner, and we witness the trauma of this symbolic castration playing out in the marriage, with the end result that he is no closer to knowing the real Sansa throughout their time together. Ultimately, whilst we could argue that Sansa has some passive moments on her wedding night to Tyrion, in the final analysis, this is far outweighed by the importance of the female gaze in helping her to overcome the patriarchal directives from Septa Mordane, challenge the expectation of women’s subjugation within marriage and participating in the symbolic castration of her husband by rejecting his reprieve. I consider these to be very significant achievements, contradicting Sansa’s victim status and moving her closer to an awakening of her beast.

The final incident concerns Marillion’s attempted rape of Sansa when she is in the Fingers at Littlefinger’s keep. As the wedding celebrations between LF and Lysa wind down, Sansa decides to take a walk, reminiscing on her marriage to Tyrion – one that was of course completely devoid of any pleasure or happiness, something that appears in stark contrast to the sexual nirvana Lysa is experiencing inside. As she thinks of Tyrion, and the lies he told her about being the Knight of Flowers in the dark, her thoughts naturally turn to Sandor Clegane, the one who warned her about the liars in KL, and she wonders what has become of him. When she re-enters the hall, Marillion pounces, telling her that he can make her sing louder than the Lady Lysa. Despite Sansa’s protests, Marillion is still persisting until Lothor Brune appears and stops him.

And quick as that, Marillion was gone. The other remained looming over Sansa in the darkness. “Lord Petyr said watch out for you.” It was Lothor Brune’s voice, she realized. Not the Hound’s, no, how could it be? Of course it had to be Lothor….

That night Sansa scarcely slept at all, but tossed and turned just as she aboard the Merling King. She dreamt of Joffrey dying, but as he clawed at his throat and the blood ran down across his fingers she saw with horrow that it was her brother Robb. And she dreamed of her wedding night too, of Tyrion’s eyes devouring her as she undressed. Only then he was bigger than Tyrion had any right to be, and when he climbed into bed his face was scarred only one side. “I’ll have a song from you,” he rasped, and Sansa woke and found the old blind dog beside her once again. “I wish that you were Lady,” she said.

My reading of this dream, concerning the Sandor bits, has always been that it’s an erotic dream, but the part where Sansa awakens and expresses longing for Lady always seemed if not to be an anomaly exactly, at least to indicate that Martin chooses to give us no reaction to the dream at all. Others have read it as a sign that the dream was actually traumatic, not erotic, and this is why Sansa wants comfort from her wolf. It was not until I read Carter’s stories, and appreciated the feminist outlook that the wolf/beast is symbolic of the female libido that I finally grasped that this statement by Sansa is the response to the dream, and convincingly establishes its erotic nature. When Sansa wishes that the old dog were Lady, she’s not expressing a desire for comfort or protection, but rather to embody the beast herself and be able to adequately respond to the dream’s content. We know that Sansa is a warg, and even though she loses her wolf early in the story, she’s still connected to the animal in memory and thought. By seeking to reclaim her animal identity, Sansa is rebelling against the stifling societal constructions for women under patriarchy, and moving towards a conscious pursuit of agency and empowerment. The dream moves from death to life, from suffering to pleasure, appropriate metaphors for the journey women must undertake in patriarchal societies as they strive for autonomy. As Ben Barootes states:

Contemporary British fiction is fraught with the opposition of the human and

the beast and its parallel binaries – the prudish and the lusty, civility and abandon,

repression and assertion, reason and passion. The oft-reproduced and reinterpreted

story of Beauty and the Beast best categorizes such a contrast. Beauty, the female,

is virginal and self-controlled. The male beast on the other hand, represents unbridled

sexuality – an utter lack of restraint. Traditionally, Beauty and her social mores win,

transforming the Beast into a fine gentleman of suppressed urges and desires.

However, if the young woman opts to embrace her sexuality – if she gives in to her

desires and becomes master of her flesh – it is she who is transformed…

Lyanna Stark has observed that we have to pay attention to what Sansa is exactly seeing in the dream. Tyrion took off his clothes before he went to the bed, so what Sansa is looking at here is a naked Sandor, heightening the dream’s eroticism. I agree with this reading, but want to take it a little further: the important point related to this is not only that Sansa is seeing a naked Sandor in her dream, but that she is seeing at all. We’ve established that the gaze connotes desire, but in the real life version of this night, Sansa’s eyes are tightly closed when Tyrion gets into bed with her:

The cold made her shiver, but she obeyed. Her eyes closed, and she waited. After a moment she heard the sound of her husband pulling off his boots, and the rustle of clothing as he undressed himself. When he hopped up on the bed and put her hand on her breast, Sansa could not help but shudder. She lay with her eyes closed, every muscle tense, dreading what might come next. Would he touch her again? Kiss her? Should she open her legs for him now? She did not know what was expected of her.

“Sansa.” The hand was gone. “Open your eyes.”

She had promised to obey; she opened her eyes. He was sitting by her feet naked. Where his legs joined, his man’s staff poked up stiff and hard from a thicket of coarse yellow hair, but it was the only thing about him that was straight.

Compare this to dream above where we see Sansa’s eyes are fully open, able to identify the man with the scar on one side of his face as he climbs into the bed. Martin also craftily creates an intertextual link with the tale of LRRH through Sansa’s observation that “… only then he was bigger than Tyrion had any right to be,” recalling of course the ritual exchange that takes place before LRRH is “devoured” by the wolf. I like to think that this is more in keeping with ‘The Company of Wolves’ than the version by Perrault.

In conclusion, I hope the essay goes some way towards freeing Sansa from imprisonment within the damsel in distress trope forever and ever. The three young women discussed in the paper are vulnerable to patriarchal exploitation and objectification within the male gaze, but this does not render them weak or passive. The path to female empowerment and autonomy remains in Sansa’s ability to ultimately awaken her beast – and claim what has been denied of female sexuality and subjectivity from time immemorial. The three analyses I did above confirm to me that she is indeed on this trajectory, and it is little wonder that she hears the ghost wolf as she is making her way down from the Eyrie in A Feast for Crows.

ETA:

I'm going to produce a list on my sources and a bibliography a little later. Apologies for not adding them in with the document, but I'm wiped out.

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