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brashcandy

From Pawn to Player: Rethinking Sansa XV

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If Lysa was also tipsy she might not have been capable of forming a mens rea either.

House Baelish would be a significant step down for the Tullys. If Hoster had as many female descendants as Walder Frey then he might have been acceptable as a suitor.

By comparison when Tytos agreed to marry Genna to a Frey, Tywin protested. The marriage of Hightower lady to Jorah Mormont was exceptional, a Baelish -Tully match would be even more unequal. The Tullys would have been looking at one of the other great houses or the next rung down to a big eared Florent, or to a Hightower. Even a second daughter would be far to valuable for creating connections and shoring up the authority and status of house Tully to allow her to marry Petyr for love.

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Messieurs et mesdames,

It's time to post another essay for our B&B Project. This one hasn't many parallels to Sansa's arc as other renditions, but it is important to illustrate the long creative process that lead to the conversion of the original myth to the modern fairy tale.

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From Apuleius to Villeneuve:

The transformation of Cupid and Psyche into Beauty and the Beast

Once upon a time, Beauty was an ugly woman

We are so used to the heroine of this tale as a surpassingly beautiful young woman that it might be a surprise to discover, after decades of reading, watching and listening to the familiar retelling, that the version that links the one we know today to the original Greco-Roman myth has as its heroine a girl who is anything but beautiful. Indeed, this Beauty was quite the opposite of Pysche, the opposite of Belle and the opposite of Sansa regarding her appearance, and that determined the course of her life since birth, starting with the vastly unflattering name she was given as a newborn.

Let’s learn about her story:

Once upon a time, there was a great queen who gave birth to twin daughters. She invited twelve fairies who lived in the neighbourhood to come and see them, and bestow gifts on them according to the custom of the time.

When the fairies were all in the banqueting hall, a magnificent repast was served. Just as they were sitting down to table, Magotine entered. She was the sister of Carabosse, and was equally wicked. The queen trembled at the sight, fearing some disaster, for she had not invited her to the feast; but carefully concealing her anxiety, she went to find for Magotine a green velvet arm chair embroidered with sapphires.

Sounds familiar? It certainly should. This is a scene out of La belle du bois dormant, known to us as Sleeping Beauty, and there are also components that resemble the beginning of the Trojan War; "forgetting" to invite a powerful supernatural and abhorred person is usually the shortest of all the roads to perdition. In imitation of Eris, the goddess of discord and strife, who dropped the Apple of Discord in the wedding banquet of Peleus and Thetis––Achilles' parents––because she'd not been invited, this fairy showed up anyway, and whoever has read The Iliad is cognisant of the consequences; in this case, they were not directly war or destruction, but there was suffering nonetheless.

“Let us hasten to bestow our gifts on the little princess, in order to anticipate Magotine."

Preventive strike, that was the solution the good fairies thought about first when they saw how infuriated the ill-tempered and resentful fairy was behaving despite the Queen’s too eager and unfruitful attempts at making her feel welcome. She’d already decided how she’d exact her vengeance for this affront, and it was disproportionate to the offence.

“My gift to you, she said quickly to one
[of the twin princesses
], "is that you shall be the ugliest creature in the world." She was on the point of laying a like curse on the other when the fairies ran up in great agitation and prevented her. Wicked Magotine broke a window-pane, and passing through it like a flash of lightning, disappeared from view.

Thus, the little baby was disfigured and, unbeknownst to her, the other was spared due to the opportune intervention of the other fairies. Like in Sleeping Beauty, none of the fairies was, apparently, powerful enough to reverse the situation. All they could do was to bestow upon her all sorts of agreeable virtues to compensate for the creature’s ugliness. Yet,

[…] the queen was less sensible of their kindness than of the pain of finding herself mother of the ugliest creature in the world.

They held a great council, and afterwards told her not to grieve so deeply, since, at an appointed time, her daughter would be very happy.

"But," interrupted the queen, "will she become beautiful?"

"We cannot," they replied, "explain ourselves more fully let it suffice you that your daughter will be happy."

One would think that a sensible parent would care more about her child’s well-being and happiness than her looks. As we are beginning to glean from her handling of the disastrous banquet, diplomacy was not an ability the Queen shared with Sansa. Neither did the Queen seem to prize sensibility, given her preference for looks over everything else; she adopted an attitude that would determine her daughter’s destiny and have an initial negative impact on her. The name she saw fit for her elder child was Laidronette, and Bellotte for the younger, names that were purposefully chosen [1]; and thus, between parental favoritism and their natural differences in temperament, they grew up to be so abysmally different from each other that it seemed as if they didn’t share the same blood:

Laidronette became so ugly, that in spite of her great intelligence, it was impossible to look at her; her sister grew very beautiful and was most charming.

Heartbroken at seeing how much her ugliness pained her family and the courtiers, when Laidronette turned twelve, she asked her parents for permission to retire with her nurse and a few retainers to the isolated Castle of Solitude, placed in the middle of a desert forest. She stayed there for the next two years of her life, and intelligent as she was, her time was spent writing books (she also wrote poetry, played the harp and loved to sing, like Sansa). One day, she felt she missed her family too much, and decided to pay her parents and sister a visit. She arrived the same day her twin was to be married, a jolly day, and everybody was happy and smiling. But laughter disappeared at the sight of Laidronette entering the hall. The embarrassed king and queen refused to embrace or give her a kiss, and instead greeted her coolly, remarking on how much uglier she’d grown, and then requested that she not appear at the wedding banquet; and if she wished to see it anyways, she could view it from a hidden place. That cold-hearted greeting from those she’d longed to see again for so long, convinced her that they would not either endure her presence if she stayed nor had they the slightest desire to try and cultivate her friendship; so she returned to her solitude.

One day, she went for a walk in the nearby forest, where she encountered under a tree a gigantic serpent, with green wings, a multicoloured body, ivory jaws, fiery eyes, and long, bristling hair. And much to her amazement and terror, she heard the serpent speak to her:

"Laidronette, you are not alone in misfortune. Look at my horrible form, and learn that I was born even more beautiful than you."

She couldn’t hear the rest of whatever the monster intended to say, for she ran shrieking in fright, and didn’t venture out of the castle for days, until she finally dared to go for a walk again, this time in the sea-shore, where she found an enchanting golden boat. Desirous to see its contents, she went aboard, and the moment she stepped in, the boat left the shore. Believing she would die, Laidronette accepted that fate resignedly, but then the great serpent she’d seen before reappeared from water beneath and hovered above the waves to speak to her. She again decided to reject his company, so the snake disappeared without protest. Soon the boat drifted aimlessly to sea, heading toward a rock and crashing violently on it. Laidronette clung for safety to a piece of floating wood at the foot of the big rock ... or so she thought. Because when she looked up, she found out she was tightly embracing the green serpent, who had saved her life.

The princess was alarmed at seeing him, and he had to let her go in haste, not before reproaching her for her ingratitude:

"If you knew me better you would fear me less, but it is my cruel fate to terrify everybody."

So, our heroine shares with the little bird the inability to look at the other that frightens her. The serpent left Laidronette alone on a real rock, to await what might come to her. At length, she fell asleep and thus didn’t notice the rock had turned into a palace, and the spot where she was sleeping was now a luxurious bedchamber. She woke up when she heard the sound of musical instruments, and voices singing a tune that seemed composed especially for her:

"Here within this palace gay

May you suffer Cupid's dart!

Here shall gladness be our part,

Sorrows all he'll drive away.

Here within this palace gay

May you suffer Cupid's dart!"

Here we read the first line that reveals where the idea for the plot came from. Henceforward this tale is practically a reworking of Apuleius’ myth, with some twists.

In that palace of glass, gold, pearls, precious gems and even more precious gardens, she met the servants: a hundred pagodas and pagodinas of distinct shapes, sizes and colours, who welcomed her to the palace as mistress, singing, dancing, playing instruments and preparing a lavish banquet for her. Their king was absent, they told her, but they would take care of her until he returned. Every day, they gave her new clothes, jewels, and “told her the most secret and curious things that went on in the world,” to amuse, divert and keep her informed. They improvised a theatre and had balls for her as well; and little by little the princess that could not endure the sight of her face in the mirror began to find herself less ugly thanks to their attentions. But soon she began to feel bored and lonely again, and whilst she lay in bed wondering what she was doing there, she heard a voice tell her that if she loved someone, she’d be conscious that happiness in solitude wasn’t that insipid. This was an invisible man speaking. She was incredulous at his confession that he had feelings for her.

"Has he eyes, or is he blind? Has he seen that I am the ugliest creature in the world?"

The voice replied that he indeed had seen her:

"…to me you are not what you represent yourself to be, and whether on account of your person, your merits, or your misfortunes, I can only repeat that l adore you."

Here was he, telling that he adored her for her potentiality, not despite her appearance. But Laidronette’s fixation on her ugliness and her inexistent sense of self-worth made her balk at the prospect of accepting this offer, and refused to allow him to show himself before her.

"No," said the princess, "I do not wish to see anything that might attract me."

Yet her curiosity impelled her to inquiry about who this king was, and the pagodas replied that their monarch was young, handsome and was still absent, but he knew that she was in his palace, because frequent messages were sent to inform him of her activities. Laidronette grew used to hearing that voice every night, always courteous, always insistent; and soon began to relent in her resistance.

"Notwithstanding my firm resolve never to love,'' said the princess, "and the good reason I have to keep out of my heart an emotion that can only cause me misery, I confess I should like to know a king whose taste is so eccentric as yours, for if you really do love me, you are probably the only person in the world who could care for a woman as ugly as I am.”

That night, she felt a presence walking beside her bed, and thinking it was one the pagodinas who acted as her handmaids, stretched her hand to call her, and felt another hand seizing hers, she felt a kiss on her hand and someone wetting her hand with tears. She realised who it was, and asked him if he thought it possible for her to love him without knowing who he was or what he looked like, and he told her the conditions were to be decided by her, but that he couldn’t show himself yet, for the same fairy that had made her so monstrously ugly, Magotine, had also put a spell on him for seven years, of which five had already passed. If she decided he was worthy of being her husband, she’d have to wait two more years. She implored for some days to reflect on his offer, in which the attentions of the pagodas redoubled. Loneliness and her own conviction that nobody else would look lovingly at her weighed heavily on her mind; and she finally consented to marry him, promising not to look upon him.

"Therein lies everything for you and me," he said. "If you give way to indiscreet curiosity, I should have to begin my penance all over again, and you would share the hardship with me; but if you can refrain from following the bad advice that will be given you, you will find that I shall be exactly to your taste, and you will at the same time recover the marvellous beauty taken from you by the wicked Magotine."

The marriage took place without excessive splendour, yet in her contentment Laidronette did not miss it.

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After some time, Queen Laidronette of the Pagodas longed to receive her mother, the queen, her father, the king, her sister Bellotte and her husband. Her husband had a premonition about what her family would do, and unsuccessfully tried to dissuade her, but finally relented, on one condition: she had to read a book about a marriage similar to theirs:

"The book you are reading," he added, "will teach you what were Psyche's misfortunes. I beg of you take heed and avoid them."

It was an innovative narrative technique on the author’s part to insert this explicit reference; to have her heroine reading the story of the heroine she’s modelled after, confirms that the source of the analogies to be found in this tale is Apuleius.

She read the book over and over again, in preparation for her relatives’ visit. Her mother, who had believed her dead, upon hearing that now she was a powerful monarch and married, did not delay and came to the palace bringing her other daughter and son-in-law with her. When they asked to meet her husband, Laidronette gave contradictory explanations each day, which caused her mother and sister to conclude that she was deceiving them, and deceiving herself, too. They planted fears and doubts in Laidronette's mind; she had to confess she’d never seen her husband; she also told them how much longer his penance would last, that she hoped at the end of that period she’d see him and become beautiful as well. The Queen laughed at her naïveté, telling her she’d fallen in a trap and her husband was really a monster; she only had to look at the pagodas to admit her words were truthful.

"I rather believe," replied Laidronette, "that he is the god of love himself."

Here we see she’s taking the stories from her book as true, and trying to resist temptation at the same time.

"A mistaken notion!" exclaimed Queen Bellotte; "Psyche was told she had a monster for a husband, and found him to be Cupid himself. You persist in believing your husband is Love and assuredly you will discover him to be a monster. Any way set your mind at ease, enlighten yourself on so simple a matter."

She felt so disturbed by this, and after sending away her mother, sister and good brother, she determined, happen what might, to see her husband. Convinced that she’d not repeat Psyche’s mistake, she concealed a lamp with a cover, and looked upon the invisible husband that lay asleep in her room, and screamed in horror: instead of fair Cupid, the person in her bed was the dreadful Green Serpent that had frightened her so much twice, in the forest and at sea. Her screams made the Serpent jump out of her bed, and after furiously chastising her for breaking her promise, he went away.

Laidronette plunged into a profound depression, and when the armies of Magotine attacked her Kingdom of Pagody, she was in such a catatonic state that she couldn’t bring herself to give any orders for the defence. The pagodas were defeated, and she was taken prisoner to the fairy. On seeing her, Magotine decided to make a slave of her and torture her further by imposing ludicrously impossible tasks on her.

"[…] your first work shall be to teach my ants philosophy; prepare to give them a lecture every day."

The queen complained that she could not do such a thing, she knew nothing about philosophy, and even if she did, ants wouldn’t learn. Magotine changed her mind then, and imposed a second task on her:

"Here," said Magotine, "is a distaff filled with cobweb; in two hours you must spin it as fine as your hair."

She was taken to an obscure grotto, where she was dumped with nothing but some bread and water, and the entrance was closed up by an enormous stone. There she tried to spin the cobweb, and the spindle would fall to the ground every time she tried. All her efforts were In vain; she was getting desperate, but moments later she heard the voice of the Serpent, who said that although she had broken her promise, he was not able to abandon her, and that the good-hearted fairy called Protectress, a friend of his, would help her. Two hours later, Magotine came to order her to weave fishing nets with these sticky threads, and Protectress aided her again. The bad fairy, however, realised that Laidronette and the monster had been communicating with each other by reciting verses at night. After she’d listened to one of these exchanges, she told them:

“Proserpine, who is my best friend, has asked me to provide her with some poet on hire. It's not that she lacks them, but she wants more of them. Go then, Green Serpent, finish your penance in her gloomy kingdom, and present my compliments to the charming Proserpine."

All alone, Laidronette begged to die too, to join him in the Underworld. Magotine, pleased with herself, asked a third sacrifice of the queen:

“[…]
you must first fetch water from the inexhaustible spring."

She tied a very heavy millstone round her neck, and ordered her to climb to the top of a high mountain to gather four-leaved clover, and then fetch the magical water in a broken pitcher. If she failed, the fairy warned her, the serpent would suffer for that. Fortunately, the queen was able to complete this task with the good fairy’s assistance in the form of little canaries that fetched the water for her; but she was told to hide in a wood afterwards instead of going back to Magotine, and wait there for three years, so the fairy would believe her dead and leave her in peace. She did as she was bid, yet when she learnt the name of the waters–the Fountain of Discretion–she thought it would be good for her to drink it, for it’d make her more prudent and discreet than she’d been until then. After she’d drunk it, her hitherto hideous face turned into a very beautiful one. The fairy Protectress was so pleased with her choice of drinking the waters that she offered to shorten her penance, because she’d known its power of beautifying mind and body, and she’d chosen it for what it’d do to her mind. Laidronette refused, arguing that she deserved her penance, for she’d not forgiven herself for her indiscretion, and preferred to go live in the wood, where she’d be constantly accompanied by enchanted animals, who were really people doing penance for some misconduct (there’s an allusion to a famous B&B pairing in ASOIAF because, curiously, lovers had been transformed into little birds–pigeons, sparrows, canaries–and dogs). Protectress had changed her name from Laidronette to Discrète, and she was Queen in the Wood for three years.

“[…] you must go on my behalf to Proserpina and ask of her the elixir of long life; […] take heed therefore not to uncork the bottle or to taste the liquor, for you would thus diminish my share."

That was Magotine’s new order when she presented herself before the fairy with the water in the broken glass. Desperate, the queen wandered away thinking of ways to kill herself, but before long she was hearing again the voice of her protectress, who gave her a green branch to strike on the ground as she recited some verses. That, the fairy assured her, would take her to Hades to rescue her serpent.

"
No more shall you grieve,

For the heavens I leave

To wipe the tear-drops away from your eyes.

Everything for your sake

Will I undertake;

Once more shall you see the loved one you prize.

Green Serpent again

Sweet life shall regain,

And with punishment dire his foe we'll chastise."

The singer who thus responded was none other than Cupid in person, another nod of the author to the Greco-Roman original. The god ordered the Earth to open wide, and guided Laidronette in her descent to see Proserpine. The first person she met in the Underworld was a comely man, whom she recognised in her heart as the Green Serpent in his true form, and wanted to stay with him there; but the deity pressed her to go obtain the elixir from Proserpine first, and later conducted them to Magotine. The fairy, unable to resist Cupid, grudgingly agreed to lift the spell and restore the Serpent to its human body, and sent him and his wife back to live in their old kingdom.

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The legacy of a rebellious noblewoman

“Well-behaved women seldom make history.”

LAUREL THATCHER ULRICH

The Green Serpent [2] is the title of the fairy tale we’ve just read; it was written by Marie-Catherine d’Aulnoy, a French baroness whose life is the most interesting of all the women who contributed to the creation of the contemporary version of Beauty and the Beast. Unlike Villeneuve and Beaumont’s marriages, which were arranged, hers was apparently forced and therefore unhappy, so much that she and the man she’d taken as lover would eventually conspire to have the Baron d’Aulnoy convicted of high treason against King Louis XIV of France, a crime that cost a man his head. The reasons for this marital incompatibility were that Monsieur d’Aulnoy was far from being a good husband in every aspect: he was thirty years her senior, abused her, was a dissolute womaniser and a compulsive gambler, apart from being a nouveau riche who’d been raised to nobility quite recently, whilst she was herself from an old and proud aristocratic family of higher rank. Unfortunately for the plotters, the conspiracy crumbled and the Baroness’ lover and his accomplice were executed; she was imprisoned and her mother had to flee the country.

After she was freed, she travelled abroad for some years, and on her return to Paris established her own literary salon, which would establish her reputation as an erudite and as a writer, as well as help her in getting acquainted with some of the brightest minds of her time, men and women. She first published her memories from her voyages, then three historical novels that were well received, and her first fairy tale three years before Charles Perrault, who’s popularly and incorrectly believed to be the first to have written and published a fairy tale in the strict definition of the genre we accept today. And finally, in 1697 she published a four-volume collection of tales named Les contes des fées, which makes this woman the writer responsible for the invention and later introduction of the term fairy tale in both France and England, where it was translated literally as Tales of the Fairies; and the following year she published another four-volume collection called New Tales, or Fairies in Fashion, in which she blended narrative styles of the folktale and the novel, a style Madame de Villeneuve would imitate. The fairy tale we analyse in the present essay was included in the second collection.

The Green Serpent is classified as Aarne-Thompson Tale Type 425-A, whereas Beauty and the Beast is an Aarne-Thompson 425-C type of fairy tale. Both types have the same motif: a monstrous supernatural partner and a human one that is usually beautiful, or what folktale experts call “animal marriage motif,” but what differentiates them and makes d’Aulnoy’s tale and its Roman predecessor superior with regard to female agency is the search motif, because, to quote Barbara Leavy, “the centrality of the search motif underscores what feminists applaud in Cupid and Psyche narratives, since Psyche’s search involves her in an active pursuit that contrasts her with such fairy tale characters as Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, who lie passively in deep sleep or virtual coma until they are awakened by brave and adventurous princes.” Both Villeneuve and Beaumont are of the second generation of women writers of fairy tales, and they’re more conservative and pedagogical than d’Aulnoy; their versions are “didactic discourses on manners, moral and social class,” as one scholar put it, but Aulnoy’s had a notorious reputation for advocating for female agency through her writing, which isn’t always obvious. The bitter experience that was her marriage influenced her greatly, and it shows in her storylines. For her, the search for autonomy and personal identity are crucial to her character’s psychological development; in all her fairy tales, she shows a preference for heroines over heroes, some of them are strong-willed ones, rulers in their own right, pursuing traditionally male interests; others are submissive and very dependent, but the author is prone to developing them into more autonomous characters, making them outgrow childhood dependencies and naïveté, and deal with the consequences of resistance to parents, to name just two recurrent motifs in her tales that could very well be compared to Sansa’s arc.

Laidronette’s story underscores the importance of developing a positive self-image and a healthy sense of self-worth, the need to overcome the fear of sexuality and the risks of loving another, and that femininity doesn’t have to equate passivity. By making her an erudite, a writer, singer and composer while retaining her traditional feminine tastes (she loves dresses, jewels and dancing), the author touched what was a very controversial theme in her time, and raised a scandal because it challenged a widely respected hostility toward intellectual pursuit and education of women popular in France. Also, in her rendition of the tasks, a critique of the restrictions of domesticity is evident, because the queen who had left her family whilst pursuing intellectual enterprises at the same time, is cruelly taunted for them–as in the “philosophy for ants” scene–and forced to perform domestic chores she neither knows how to do nor wants to, the futility of which is symbolised masterfully by the millstone, the iron shoes (a Cinderella reference) and the glass full of holes. And neither does she submit meekly to Magotine’s punishments but protests, only to be again mocked for “reasoning too much.” Her depiction of violence in many of her tales, like this one, were her way of addressing the abuse of women she’d experienced herself. Even in the peculiar way she had of ending her tale, putting all the power in a pagan god, she voiced her resentment with the religious establishment that often allowed feminine submission.

In spite of the numerous and readily apparent similarities between her fairy tale and the ancient one, Marie-Catherine d’Aulnoy didn’t really consider it a reconstruction of the Apuleius’ myth, but she most certainly did ask readers to compare it to the Roman version by using that as basis for her plotline, because she took her references from her contemporary Jean de la Fontaine’s romanticised retelling: The Loves of Cupid and Psyche (1669), and two scenes from her tale are taken from similar ones in The Golden Ass that have no connection with the myth itself (the canary’s speech and the wood full of enchanted animals). Gabrielle de Villeneuve, on the other hand, seems to have reworked the myth more literally; and it’s known that she was a follower of d’Aulnoy’s writings, that she admired her and imitated her narrative style in the version that would be abridged and improved by Beaumont sixteen years later. Thus, the long process of transforming a mythological story about a god and a mortal into the tale of a monster and a beautiful maid is completed: Lucius Apuleius Africanus inspired Jean de la Fontaine, Marie-Catherine d’Aulnoy took it from him and passed it to Gabrielle de Villeneuve, and it was picked up by another conteuse, Jeanne-Marie de Beaumont, who wrote Beauty and the Beast in its definitive form.

Endnotes:

[1] Laideronnette in the original French. In some English editions, her name has been translated as Little Ugly and her sister’s as Little Beauty.

The Dictionnaire de la Langue Française states the following:

LAIDERONNE: Adj., fam. Ugly girl or woman.

BELLOTTE: Adj., fam. [when speaking of a child] cute, amiable, sweet. Diminutive of belle.

[2] D'Aulnoy, Marie-Catherine, The Fairy Tales of Madame D'Aulnoy. Translated by Annie MacDonell and Ms. Lee, illustrated by Clinton Peters, Lawrence & Bullen, London, 1892.

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Great essay Milday!

I think this instance of Beauty and the Beast could be associated with Arya as well. When we first meet Arya, she's very conscious of her "inferiority" and she downplays herself by comparing herself to her sister: she doesn't think she is as lovely as Sansa, her stiches are crooked but Sansa's are not, she can't play music and sing like Sansa does... As the story progresses, we see that Arya progressively gains more confidence in herself and in her capacities. I believe the passage about the Fountain of Discretion is common to both as Arya learns to value her other qualities (though I'd say she's not ugly) and Sansa learns that all that is gold does not glitter.

Pod and Ragnorak: great posts, I just don't know what I could add to that :) .

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Stellar essay Milady. The tale is very interesting, but I was definitely more fascinated with the real life drama of the writer :) You did a good job of explaining how her personal experiences informed the choices she made in depicting heroines who were self sufficient and actively involved in their own liberation.

Laidronette’s story underscores the importance of developing a positive self-image and a healthy sense of self-worth, the need to overcome the fear of sexuality and the risks of loving another, and that femininity doesn’t have to equate passivity.

Very central issues in Sansa's story line itself, and with some applicability to Arya as well, which Mahaut noted above. That femininity does not equate to passivity is something which is particularly relevant, considering the criticism often levelled at Sansa for "doing nothing" whilst in KL. Of course we know that Sansa actually does a lot, but still, the association between femininity and weakness/inaction persists. In any case, we know that Sansa's actual heroine journey will begin in the Vale, and these stories are really helping to elucidate the importance of that process in achieving autonomy and personal satisfaction.

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Beautiful essay Milady!! Laidronette made me think of how women’s intelligence wasn’t well received at some points in history (the 18th centrury of course is an example due to the author). This bit for example:

But laughter disappeared at the sight of Laidronette entering the hall. The embarrassed king and queen refused to embrace or give her a kiss, and instead greeted her coolly, remarking on how much uglier she’d grown, and then requested that she not appear at the wedding banquet; and if she wished to see it anyways, she could view it from a hidden place

To me this represented how at a feast the daughter or wife of a lord suddenly began to speak and share her views on the politics of the realm and was told by “the authority” her father or husband that it would be better if she kept her thoughts to herself and simply looked pretty.

It goes well with what you wrote previously and what Brash highlighted:

Laidronette’s story underscores the importance of developing a positive self-image and a healthy sense of self-worth, the need to overcome the fear of sexuality and the risks of loving another, and that femininity doesn’t have to equate passivity. By making her an erudite, a writer, singer and composer while retaining her traditional feminine tastes (she loves dresses, jewels and dancing), the author touched what was a very controversial theme in her time, and raised a scandal because it challenged a widely respected hostility toward intellectual pursuit and education of women popular in France

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FOUR FLORIANS AND A JONQUIL:

(This is a weird idea I had while writing the other huge analysis - it didn't really fit with what I was doing, so consider it bonus material.)

The first of April, some do say

Is set apart for All Fools' Day;

But why the people call it so,

Nor I, nor they themselves, do know.

- Poor Robin's Almanac (1760), "All Fools' Day".

There's the historical tradition of the royal Fool, a jester whose acts like fool for the entertainment of the court.

It exists in ASOIAF as well. (We have Moon Boy, Butterbumps, and Patchface, for example.)Physical clowning is part of it, singing and dancing, and some stage magic tricks.

The most interesting part is that the Fool gets to make jokes at the expense of the high and mighty, to say things no one else can get away with saying. The position itself shows that even in a society where power is so absolute, mockery has its place, and that the system in a way needs to be mocked from time to time.

As it relates to Sansa Stark, we of course have the example of Florian and Jonquil, which seems to be her favourite romantic story. It is the story of a homely and humble fool who also was heroic and as a hero, won the heart of the fair maiden Jonquil.

In considering Sansa's experiences, I got an idea in my head that Sansa Stark is in her own way replaying the story Florian and Jonquil, reprising the role of the maiden in relation to a fool - someone who mocks (or is a mockery) of the society she lives in.

So if she is Jonquil the maiden, who is her fool ? It struck me that there are actually four fools she has had in her life. Each one has his own niche, mocking a specific aspect of Westerosi society and its notions of propriety. Each in his own way seems to "rescue" Sansa - not lierally but symbolically.

Dontos Hollard: What Dontos mocks is the bravery and might and knight is supposed to have. The truth is, he's not very brave or mighty. He's a drunk, somewhat fearful, and nobody at all fears him. He "rescues" Sansa only because she rescued him first. Even when she was rescued by him phsycially, she makes him brave like a knight again (thus rescuing him again in a way).

Tyrion Lannister: What Tyrion mocks is the principles of family, duty, and morality. His morality is certainly not of the pure and pious sort, and his own compassion is at war with both his internal nihilism and the selfishness he was raised to follow. He does his duty grudgingly because it really involves serving the wrong side, but he still does it well and yet is not given credit even for that. His family is a nightmare, where even the principles of familial love are either non-existent or else twisted into soul-scarring manipulation. Like a good fool though, he stings people with his wit. Tyrion also japes about being in motley, and is occasionally insulted by others as being fit for it. He is the fool who "rescues" her from having to deal with his family, and all the while she embodies all these vaunted principles he mocks but can never have because of where his came from.

Petyr Baelish: What Littlefinger mocks is the idea of nobility and the system of bloodlines. He has turned the system of strength in bloodlines to his advantage, and by mastering it, has made himself able to turn it against itself. Lord Baelish plays the part of the perfect Lord, with impeccable manners and exquisite wit, but under that mockingbird sigil is a man who seems to have nothing but contempt for his peers and for the system that made them (and him) so powerful. One might think his goal is to make such a mockery of nobility that he actually destroys it. His "rescue" of Sansa seems to be one of imparting some part of that cynicism onto her, allowing her to shed her naivete and allow her to see the true motivations behind system that is built upon some very big lies.

Sandor Clegane: What the Hound mocks is the ideas of chivalry and gallantry. He is cynical too, but the target of his mockery is the fanciful notions that surround the role of warriors in Westeros. To him knighthood is a not an honour but a black mark, the sign that one is a hypocrite as well as a killer. His rough way of speaking and living show his contempt for a system that cannot look in its own face, and see the brutal unvarnished truth that underlies the myths of what warriors do. He "rescues" Sansa from thinking of knights as glamourous or well-intentioned, so as she grows into a lady she understands her protectors may be the ones she needs protection from.

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Very central issues in Sansa's story line itself, and with some applicability to Arya as well, which Mahaut noted above. That femininity does not equate to passivity is something which is particularly relevant, considering the criticism often levelled at Sansa for "doing nothing" whilst in KL. Of course we know that Sansa actually does a lot, but still, the association between femininity and weakness/inaction persists. In any case, we know that Sansa's actual heroine journey will begin in the Vale, and these stories are really helping to elucidate the importance of that process in achieving autonomy and personal satisfaction.

That passivity is a stereotypically feminine trait has always bothered me. Men can be active, and indeed, it's best if they are - but women should just have things happen TO them. I agree that Sansa is not very passive, and am confused when people claim that she's "done nothing". I could make a list of the things she's done, but I suppose it wouldn't be necessary given the sort of people who probably read PtP threads. :) It is frustrating - one, that passivity is a stereotypically feminine trait at all, and two, that women are punished for being active (and in some cases, I would say, even for being inactive - a kind of double bind).

Also, very nice essay Milady :)

Edit: And interesting essay, Pod! I didn't see it before.

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Milady-- great essay! I have to say that the B+B project has been one of my favorite reads on the forum. I can't express how much I've always enjoyed these stories, but reading them in the originals (which I hadn't previously) thrills me.

There's the historical tradition of the royal Fool, a jester whose acts like fool for the entertainment of the court.

It exists in ASOIAF as well. (We have Moon Boy, Butterbumps, and Patchface, for example.)Physical clowning is part of it, singing and dancing, and some stage magic tricks.

The most interesting part is that the Fool gets to make jokes at the expense of the high and mighty, to say things no one else can get away with saying. The position itself shows that even in a society where power is so absolute, mockery has its place, and that the system in a way needs to be mocked from time to time.

As it relates to Sansa Stark, we of course have the example of Florian and Jonquil, which seems to be her favourite romantic story. It is the story of a homely and humble fool who also was heroic and as a hero, won the heart of the fair maiden Jonquil.

In considering Sansa's experiences, I got an idea in my head that Sansa Stark is in her own way replaying the story Florian and Jonquil, reprising the role of the maiden in relation to a fool - someone who mocks (or is a mockery) of the society she lives in.

I'm really into the construct of the fool (surprise, surprise, lol). Dr P and I were trying to develop a topic about this actually, and I think you hit on some really good extensions/ subversions of the fool trope with the "non-official" fools you describe-- especially the LF parallel. Historically, fools were either "natural" or officially sanctioned, that is, either a person who was mentally challenged and therefore unable to adhere to social norms or a person who was granted a sort of "amnesty" from adhering to norms.

As you note, this is so much LF's Modus Operandi. He mocks everyone around him quite nastily at times. Only Renly and Tyrion ever really pay him back in kind, and for the most part, I think only Ned asks him to tone it down and calls him out for insolence. In much the same way that no one considers him a threat because of his birth, it would seem he's also got something of an "amnesty" to get away with insolence. Which sometimes confuses me, actually. I would think that an "inferior" like LF would be under more scrutiny from his "superiors" to show respect, but it seems that he's just given carte-blanche to be a jerk to everyone's face. I wonder if this is just supposed to reinforce how under the radar he really is, which is, I think, such a great Fool parallel in and of itself.

One other facet of the Fool is it's historic association with Death. Death is sometimes depicted wearing Fool's clothes, the implication being that Death is the greatest joker of them all (lots of tales and parables portray Death as a cunning trickster). More to the point of mortality, it suggests "Death always has the last laugh." Not sure how that fits in yet (and I pray this facet doesn't suggest anything about LF), but I always thought this association was pretty poignant.

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Milady - great essays. I am so enjoying this B&B project! And I want to stress as a few others have already noted - the assumption that feminine traits = passivity (which I think most people associate with weakness) is what has always bothered me too. It's striking that women have been fighting this view for hundreds of years.

Pod - great essay as well and I do agree. Historically, the fool in literature, and I am thinking particularly of Shakespeare, also usually turns out to be one of the most sharp, intelligent and insightful characters in the story.

One other facet of the Fool is it's historic association with Death. Death is sometimes depicted wearing Fool's clothes, the implication being that Death is the greatest joker of them all (lots of tales and parables portray Death as a cunning trickster). More to the point of mortality, it suggests "Death always has the last laugh." Not sure how that fits in yet (and I pray this facet doesn't suggest anything about LF), but I always thought this association was pretty poignant.

I think for our Beauty characters including Psyche the "death" is represented by the loss of their childhood innocence. Once their eyes have been opened to reality, or symbolically speaking, once they have taken a bite of the forbidden fruit, they can never go back to the innocent, unknowing, childlike person they were before.

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Great post on the fools, Pod :)

I think for our Beauty characters including Psyche the "death" is represented by the loss of their childhood innocence. Once their eyes have been opened to reality, or symbolically speaking, once they have taken a bite of the forbidden fruit, they can never go back to the innocent, unknowing, childlike person they were before.

I agree with this. It's the movement from innocence to experience, and we also see it regarding Sansa's appreciation for songs and singers. After Lysa's death, Marillion's singing becomes almost unbearable for her, since she's aware of the meaning behind those songs now. She no longer has the childlike longing for such entertainment.

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Great essays, Milady and Pod!

One other facet of the Fool is it's historic association with Death. Death is sometimes depicted wearing Fool's clothes, the implication being that Death is the greatest joker of them all (lots of tales and parables portray Death as a cunning trickster). More to the point of mortality, it suggests "Death always has the last laugh." Not sure how that fits in yet (and I pray this facet doesn't suggest anything about LF), but I always thought this association was pretty poignant.

I immediately thought of Sandor Clegane's constant association with the Stranger and Melisandre's visions about Patchface.

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That passivity is a stereotypically feminine trait has always bothered me. Men can be active, and indeed, it's best if they are - but women should just have things happen TO them. I agree that Sansa is not very passive, and am confused when people claim that she's "done nothing". I could make a list of the things she's done, but I suppose it wouldn't be necessary given the sort of people who probably read PtP threads. :) It is frustrating - one, that passivity is a stereotypically feminine trait at all, and two, that women are punished for being active (and in some cases, I would say, even for being inactive - a kind of double bind).

Also, very nice essay Milady :)

Edit: And interesting essay, Pod! I didn't see it before.

:agree: Woman can do things too. People should realize that. I think it's hard for people to see that with Sansa sometimes because the things she does are so subtle but IMO that doesn't make them any less awesome.

FOUR FLORIANS AND A JONQUIL:

(This is a weird idea I had while writing the other huge analysis - it didn't really fit with what I was doing, so consider it bonus material.)

The first of April, some do say

Is set apart for All Fools' Day;

But why the people call it so,

Nor I, nor they themselves, do know.

- Poor Robin's Almanac (1760), "All Fools' Day".

There's the historical tradition of the royal Fool, a jester whose acts like fool for the entertainment of the court.

It exists in ASOIAF as well. (We have Moon Boy, Butterbumps, and Patchface, for example.)Physical clowning is part of it, singing and dancing, and some stage magic tricks.

The most interesting part is that the Fool gets to make jokes at the expense of the high and mighty, to say things no one else can get away with saying. The position itself shows that even in a society where power is so absolute, mockery has its place, and that the system in a way needs to be mocked from time to time.

As it relates to Sansa Stark, we of course have the example of Florian and Jonquil, which seems to be her favourite romantic story. It is the story of a homely and humble fool who also was heroic and as a hero, won the heart of the fair maiden Jonquil.

In considering Sansa's experiences, I got an idea in my head that Sansa Stark is in her own way replaying the story Florian and Jonquil, reprising the role of the maiden in relation to a fool - someone who mocks (or is a mockery) of the society she lives in.

So if she is Jonquil the maiden, who is her fool ? It struck me that there are actually four fools she has had in her life. Each one has his own niche, mocking a specific aspect of Westerosi society and its notions of propriety. Each in his own way seems to "rescue" Sansa - not lierally but symbolically.

Dontos Hollard: What Dontos mocks is the bravery and might and knight is supposed to have. The truth is, he's not very brave or mighty. He's a drunk, somewhat fearful, and nobody at all fears him. He "rescues" Sansa only because she rescued him first. Even when she was rescued by him phsycially, she makes him brave like a knight again (thus rescuing him again in a way).

Tyrion Lannister: What Tyrion mocks is the principles of family, duty, and morality. His morality is certainly not of the pure and pious sort, and his own compassion is at war with both his internal nihilism and the selfishness he was raised to follow. He does his duty grudgingly because it really involves serving the wrong side, but he still does it well and yet is not given credit even for that. His family is a nightmare, where even the principles of familial love are either non-existent or else twisted into soul-scarring manipulation. Like a good fool though, he stings people with his wit. Tyrion also japes about being in motley, and is occasionally insulted by others as being fit for it. He is the fool who "rescues" her from having to deal with his family, and all the while she embodies all these vaunted principles he mocks but can never have because of where his came from.

Petyr Baelish: What Littlefinger mocks is the idea of nobility and the system of bloodlines. He has turned the system of strength in bloodlines, and by mastering it, has made himself able to turn it against itself. Lord Baelish plays the part of the perfect Lord, with impeccable manners and exquisite wit, but under that mockingbird sigil is a man who seems to have nothing but contempt for his peers and for the system that made them (and him) so powerful. One might think his goal is to make such a mockery of nobility that he actually destroys it. His "rescue" of Sansa seems to be one of imparting some part of that cynicism onto her, allowing her to shed her naivete and allow her to see the true motivations behind system that is built upon some very big lies.

Sandor Clegane: What the Hound mocks is the ideas of chivalry and gallantry. He is cynical too, but the target of his mockery is the fanciful notions that surround the role of warriors in Westeros. To him knighthood is a not an honour but a black mark, the sign that one is a hypocrite as well as a killer. His rough way of speaking and living show his contempt for a system that cannot look in its own face, and see the brutal unvarnished truth that underlies the myths of what warriors do. He "rescues" Sansa from thinking of knights as glamourous or well-intentioned, so as she grows into a lady she understands her protectors may be the ones she needs protection from.

Awesome post, Pod! I think that each of these fools definitely show her something as well. Dontos shows her that it's easy to be underestimated when you're not seen as powerful. Tyrion shows her that even though people might have bad characteristics they can have good ones too. LF shows her that life is not a song and in order to survive she might have to lie. Sandor shows her that appearances can be deceiving and sometimes the truest knight is the one who isn't a knight at all.

And my thoughts are as always very random but I hope you awesome people like them anyway. :)

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As you note, this is so much LF's Modus Operandi. He mocks everyone around him quite nastily at times. Only Renly and Tyrion ever really pay him back in kind, and for the most part, I think only Ned asks him to tone it down and calls him out for insolence. In much the same way that no one considers him a threat because of his birth, it would seem he's also got something of an "amnesty" to get away with insolence. Which sometimes confuses me, actually. I would think that an "inferior" like LF would be under more scrutiny from his "superiors" to show respect, but it seems that he's just given carte-blanche to be a jerk to everyone's face. I wonder if this is just supposed to reinforce how under the radar he really is, which is, I think, such a great Fool parallel in and of itself.

Well, Littlefinger gets to fly under everyone's radar, because they do not think of him as a threat*. The cause of their blindness is their own belief that strength-of-sword and prestige-of-blood are all that matters. This is the principle that held Petyr Baelish back as a young lad, denying him all he desired. But Littlefinger uses that same principle to deceive and destroy his co-called betters. He is like the Joker in Batman - a playful fool-like facade masking someone who is sinister, ruthless, and dangerous enough to destroy the rulers and realm.

One other facet of the Fool is it's historic association with Death. Death is sometimes depicted wearing Fool's clothes, the implication being that Death is the greatest joker of them all (lots of tales and parables portray Death as a cunning trickster). More to the point of mortality, it suggests "Death always has the last laugh." Not sure how that fits in yet (and I pray this facet doesn't suggest anything about LF), but I always thought this association was pretty poignant.

As well, I when I wrote the thing, I also wanted to include a link to the card "The Fool" in the tarot, but I just couldn't find a way to make that work. More occult associations.

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Very interesting and thought-provoking post as usual Pod, though I don’t entirely agree with you on Sandor. True, he strongly criticises the hypocrisy of knighthood in Westeros, but I don’t think he completely rejects the system altogether. In fact, I believe he’s very much part of it and here is why I think so. Sandor has his code of honour which is:

- no lies

- no foolish promises/vows he can’t keep

- courage

- loyalty to his liege lord (well, up until the Battle of the Blackwater)

I’ve been working on the notions of knighthood and courtliness recently and interestingly enough, these are some of the key rules our own medieval knights followed (or tried to follow). I guess Westerosi knights aren’t so different from ours. So yes, Sandor mocks the ideas of chivalry and gallantry but despite what he says, he still applies key rules of knighthood to his own life. In short, there’s a discrepancy between what he says and what he does. The question is, why? The only answer I can think of is that Sandor still believes in some of the ideas of knighthood despite the sheer hypocrisy of the system. Of course, I may be completely wrong ^_^.

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Have you read the Dunk and Egg stories Mahaut, there is a lot there, particularly in the Hedge Knight about the difference between the chivalric ideal and the reality of knighthood.

Sandor wouldn't be alone in believing the ideals of knighthood, just thinking of Lommy Greenhands insistence that they can yield and be treated courteously by soldiers or Septon Meribald's speech about becoming a broken man. The ideals and Romance of chivalry have infected the imaginations of the entire society. (Heh "The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas").

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Have you read the Dunk and Egg stories Mahaut, there is a lot there, particularly in the Hedge Knight about the difference between the chivalric ideal and the reality of knighthood.

Sandor wouldn't be alone in believing the ideals of knighthood, just thinking of Lommy Greenhands insistence that they can yield and be treated courteously by soldiers or Septon Meribald's speech about becoming a broken man. The ideals and Romance of chivalry have infected the imaginations of the entire society. (Heh "The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas").

No I haven't yet (I came to ASOIAF only this spring). I'm waiting for a friend of mine to lend me The Hedge Knight though :).

But my curiosity is piqued, could you tell me more about the chivalric ideal and the reality of knighthood in The Hedge Knight :blush:?

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