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brashcandy

From Pawn to Player: Rethinking Sansa XVI

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I'll be starting the new thread later tonight/early morning, so you should get in any replies or relevant comments to the current discussion.

@Kittykatknits - IIRC, you mentioned in your intro to this theme that you wanted to consider the men who could play a role in shaping a better landscape for marriages in the future, and Jon looks to be at the forefront of this new horizon. We can all begin to think more on this in preparation for the new thread, and perhaps someone would like to write a short essay on just why the current system is so broken? It isn't hard to fathom when we have the likes of men like Robert Baratheon, Tywin Lannister, and Littlefinger. Are we being realistic in expecting change, or does a character like Harry the Heir signify the same politics as usual?

These are all questions you can feel free to explore when I launch Rethinking XVII. Thanks guys.

[/threadkeeping]

It's interesting you bring up Jon in this respect because he is responsible for setting up the only marriage that I can think of in the entire series that seemed to be happy. I'm talking about the wedding of Alys Karstark and Sigorn the Thenn. Sure the circumstances were not ideal and Alys was fleeing from a bad situation so took on this marriage to resolve that, but they both seemed to be willing to enter the marriage partnership. I don't think Jon would have forced it on Alys if she had said no, and it seemed like Sigorn approved of her. It was the only onscreen wedding that I can think of that appeared to be happy and the celebration seemed quite positive. That may have been one of the few times where Jon seemed happy and relaxed and even smiled, not to mention the only one where the parties seemed willing, and most importantly where nobody was murdered during the affair. It gave the sense to me that these two might actually have a shot at being happy together.

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Despite the positive aspects to the greater freedom I think KRBD is right. There is a romanticized element to the wildlings. There's a reason there aren't Braavosi singles cruises making regular stops at Hardhome (and personally despite a certain primal caveman appeal I wouldn't want to try dating in a place where a woman staring at me and fondling a knife is a mixed signal.) Still there's a level of equality, freedom and a positive set of values that is absent in the "more civilized" parts of Westeros.

I'll be starting the new thread later tonight/early morning, so you should get in any replies or relevant comments to the current discussion.

@Kittykatknits - IIRC, you mentioned in your intro to this theme that you wanted to consider the men who could play a role in shaping a better landscape for marriages in the future, and Jon looks to be at the forefront of this new horizon. We can all begin to think more on this in preparation for the new thread, and perhaps someone would like to write a short essay on just why the current system is so broken? It isn't hard to fathom when we have the likes of men like Robert Baratheon, Tywin Lannister, and Littlefinger. Are we being realistic in expecting change, or does a character like Harry the Heir signify the same politics as usual?

These are all questions you can feel free to explore when I launch Rethinking XVII. Thanks guys.

[/threadkeeping]

I'll post my next update in the new thread sometimes tomorrow.

And yes, I do want to talk about the men who can change or shape the current landscape. Certainly, marriage is a part of it but I'd like to extend it to the entire conversation. I bring up Jon as an example as he stands out to me as a person who appreciates indivuals based upon merit and makes judgments using his sense of right and wrong, rather than a Westeros-imposed defintion of a person. Jaime is another character that comes to mind as well who seems to defy many conventions. I'm sure there are others in the text who we should be talking about as well. It is not the Tywins and Rooses of the world that will bring about change, that is for sure.

Ragnorak, much of what you bring up with the wildlings has had me do some thinking. I've been mixed about them through the series but I'm starting to have a suspicion you are going to change my mind. It also occurs to me that that Martin is doing some very deliberate comparisons when it comes to both Dornish and wildling cultures. Much of the first three books books gave us insight in to the screwedupedness* that is Westeros culture. It continues in to Feast with the Jaime/Brienne/Sansa/Cersei storylines. But, we also get our first glimpse in to Dorne. Similar, Jon gave us an early look with the wildlings and then our understanding and knowledge of them grew dramatically in Dance. It seems as if Martin set the stage with Westeros, showing a place that is broken in so many ways. Then, he introduces us to the far North and far South with the wildlings and Dorne. I don't mean to say their cultures are not without their own problems but they do present us with two alternative looks in to life in Westeros. And, to me, it seems like there are many elements that these two groups are getting right that Westeros seems to be failing at so very well. I'll reserve judgement for now as to whether this is a passing obeservation on my part or if the disctinctions will continue to grow. But, I've got a feeling it's going to be the latter.

*Yes, I know screwedupedness isn't really a word but it seemed to fit here.

Dorne and paramours: I suspect that women have more sexual freedom in Dorne is because inheritance can be passed down the female line, so it's not as important who the father is. If your mother is ruling Princess of Dorne, you're a Martell no matter what. I think Doran and sibling's mother was the ruling Princess, IIRC. So Doran got his title from her. I surmise that it's not a good thing if the heiress' children are fathered by someone of low birth, but if the children are to inherit her title and lands, rather than the father's, fidelity and chastity do not take on the same importance as they do in the rest of Westeros.

This was my original suspicion as well. The line of succession leads to an acceptance of paramours in general, for both men and women. I add in what Ragnorak mentioned when it comes to the respect granted to paramours and the greater appreciation for love in general. It gives some insight on how the different cultural values contribute and work to create the environment that we see.

Can we say then based on this discussion on love and marriage that there's nothing inherently negative or faulty about those relationships which stem from traditional arrangements or romantic matches? It seems that in both cases, no matter the genesis, things like mutual respect, kindness and commitment, along with the maturity of both partners go a long way in ensuring whether the union will be successful. Of course, forced marriages do not apply, so the idea that it is Sansa's "shallowness" that prevented her from achieving a happy marriage with Tyrion is and forever will be a nonsensical assertion.

I don't have much to add to this statement brashcandy other than to express how much I agree with it. I think it's a very accurate summation of what these discussions have shown us. It's not about romantic v. arranged but more a willingness from each partner to create an environment that leads to a healthy relationship. With forced marriages such as with Sansa, one partner has already set the stage so the relationship is not based upon mutual respect, compromise, etc. which in turn prevents a happy marriage. But, you said it better than I. :)

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Tyrion and Tysha, whose failure was absolutely no fault of theirs; Tywin was to blame there. I don't know how it would have ended if they had been allowed to stay together - they were both young teenagers and from vastly different stations in life.

It is not just their stations. Tywin was determined that Tyrion should never be allowed to be happy. He resented Tyrion's existence, but didn't think it proper for a Lannister (even that one) to get a Tarly-style "Wall or arranged hunting accident" treatment.

Tyrion is a dwarf, and cannot ever be the great knight he'd hoped a son would be ? Okay. Then what ?

Tyrion wants to play like a child, and do tricks and clever riddles ? NO. Too clownish, the boy must forever be serious.

Tyrion's smart and bookish, and wants to be a Maester. NO. Rejected as too servile for any son of his. Even if it meant Tyrion would be useful at something, and as a bonus couldn't rule Casterly Rock, would no longer be called a Lannister, and would likely be stationed far from the Rock.

Tyrion wanted to travel the world with his uncle Gerion ? "NO, you're best off underground, unplugging sewers in Casterly Rock, rather than spreading the shame of your existence to other continents".

Tyrion's wanting to be come a septon ? Tywin never got the chance to squelch that, but I'm sure he eventually woould have on the grounds that "no lesser ideals like morality in this family".

Seriously, Tywin was a hypocrite regarding Tyrion. He forever damns Tyrion for being useless as an heir, but also prevents Tyrion from doing anything that would let him use any talents he does have. He treats him as a burden to the House, but won't allow him to contribute to it, except as a last resort.

So, Tyrion falls for some girl and she for him, and Tywin decides that the solution to this heinous situation must not only be annulment of their marriage, but punished and utterly perverted by a savage act of gang rape. Why? Because Tysha was digging for Lannister gold ? No. Because Rule #1 is: Tyrion must never, ever be allowed to find some sort of happiness; he must always remember his role is the accursed monster of House Lannister, and nothing else.

If Tywin was a a normal but coldly prejudiced father, even if he was ashamed of his son being a dwarf, and even if his shameful son compounded things by marrying some common girl, he would choose to disinherit him. A normal though coldly prejudiced father would say "You made your choice. You will never inherit the lordship, but here's some small cottage to live with your crofter's daughter. Don't expect any family visits." At worst, she gets a walk of shame and a free trip out of town. But gang rape? WTF?

Seriously, Tywin Lannister's treatment of Tyrion makes the Steward of Gondor (re: Faramir) look like Bill Cosby.

It should not surprise anyone that Tyrion's as messed up as he is.

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I don't think Sandor is 'worthy' of any young and gently reared female as a husband, or anyone who might be a nice person; at least before his presumed retreat on the Quiet Isle. Robert Baratheon wasn't exactly worthy of young Lyanna Stark either; who knows how that marriage would have turned out if she had lived; she might have been able to handle him better than did Cersei and he might not have beaten her, but I think he would have made her feel caged and unhappy and cheapened.

And I think Sandor would wholeheartedly agree with you if he was asked the question on whether or not he was worthy of Sansa. The problem however, is that this question of someone being worthy is often based on some problematic assumptions which work to:

1. Deny the legitimacy of the woman's desires and consent in choosing a partner, no matter how "unsuitable" we think the person may be.

2. Objectify the woman as a stationary prize, thereby erasing her subjectivity and the complexity of the relationship she may have with the man, and how it changes and develops throughout the story.

I do operate from the viewpoint that Sansa deserves an eventual husband (if marriage is what she decides she wants) who is worthy of her. I do believe that a junior version of Robert Baratheon, possibly minus the drinking - i.e. Harry-the-Heir - would not be worthy of being Sansa's husband. Sansa is one of the nicer female characters in the series; she has endured tremendous emotional pain and physical abuse and danger and is still under threat; I do think she deserves a good man who can be good to her if she does want to, when she's older, have a romantic/sexual/marital relationship.

And I operate from the view point that Sansa has to decide who is ultimately the best person for her - period. I don't think anyone would have looked at Sansa and Sandor and thought "gee, that could work", but what we've seen in the story is that against all rational perception, it actually could. Both of them needed to mature in different ways, and Sandor particularly had to get past his intense hatred for Gregor and find some kind of twisted redemption for his own sake. I don't see it as an issue of him suddenly being the man who is now "worthy" of Sansa, but rather that he can, if they both so desired, contribute to a much more productive relationship than before. And I know this may come across as just quibbling over semantics, but I want to stress that the concept of "worthiness" brings with it a whole heap of cultural baggage that often is employed in keeping women within their place and denying their authority.

I don't think the concept of 'worth' in a potential spouse needs to be debunked. If a woman has self-respect, then she will understand that the entire male population of a given country or continent is not 'worthy' to be her husband/mate/boyfriend; she practices discrimination. 'Worth' is not necessarily dependent on social status; though that can be a factor. Women with self-respect usually want a man who at the very least is not going to embarrass or frighten them. In Westeros, women of Sansa's fortunate status, daughters of noble-to-Great Houses, would want a socially presentable man who they can trust, like, someone who brings either some wealth or an impressive military record (or both) to the relationship, someone who is free of illness and can sire healthy children and be a good father to them. They don't always get what they want; but they can at least get a Mace Tyrell (not the brightest bulb on the shelf, but his children do support each other and he supports them and doesn't seem to abuse his wife, either) or a Wyman Manderly (who loves his children) or Ned Stark.

I think it goes without saying that people don't set out to have romantic partnerships where they're made to feel badly about themselves or are subject to abuse. But what makes one individual worthy to someone, might not be credited by another person. We saw that Sansa was able to see Sandor's worth in KL, when everyone else treated him as a dog and hired thug. At the end of the day it's about what you find that makes you happy, and there's no prescription involved in that. Westerosi society would be hardpressed to accept that Sandor is a suitable husband for Sansa, but in her erotic dreams he's already assumed a position in her marriage bed. Is this merely an aspect of her sexual development, or does it also reflect an as yet unconscious "choice" of Sandor as a prospective partner?

Even among the supposedly uncivilized Wildlings, the concept of men proving their 'worth' to prospective brides is known; they're supposed to prove their courage and audacity by stealing them. (which can probably backfire, but at least the wildling ladies can hopefully impose some measure of selection through this process). Among other non-noble cultures/social classes, I often think of Marya Seaworth. As a carpenter's daughter, she may have been considered something of a prize; and had many suitors among craftsmen and merchants; assuming her father was successful at his trade. Yet she chose an infamous smuggler, Davos Seaworth; and married him. Why? She probably guessed his worth; the intrinsic sum of his qualities and virtues and potential future, and judged him to be worthy of her.

Well this example of Marya comes very close to the point I've been making. Would Marya's father have considered Davos "worthy" of her? Did she perhaps have other suitors who might have been made better husbands whose loyalty she did not have to share with a stubborn claimant to the Iron throne? Did she think these things through before she married Davos, or did she only concentrate on how he made her "feel"? Is worthiness a one time deal? Or is it something that has to be continually proven and reinforced? Would Willas's injury have made him unworthy of Sansa, or should it not matter since she was willing to accept him and he's a reputed "nice guy"? Should the callous behaviour of his family disqualify him as an option? On what do we base our discriminatory judgments?

It probably would be best if Sandor can improve himself, learn to control his rages and alcoholism, for his own sake rather than for the love of Sansa Stark. But there is much that is good in Sandor, and I would rather he bring it out and have a life that could bring him happiness for Sansa's sake than not at all.

Yes, and I think Martin's separation of them went a long way in making clear that love cannot heal a person. Sansa could not make Sandor better, she could not magically help him get over his rage for his brother. But what she could do was to show her compassion and her own understanding of what he struggled with, and that in the final analysis, he was worthy capable of being better and doing better.

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It's interesting you bring up Jon in this respect because he is responsible for setting up the only marriage that I can think of in the entire series that seemed to be happy. I'm talking about the wedding of Alys Karstark and Sigorn the Thenn. Sure the circumstances were not ideal and Alys was fleeing from a bad situation so took on this marriage to resolve that, but they both seemed to be willing to enter the marriage partnership. I don't think Jon would have forced it on Alys if she had said no, and it seemed like Sigorn approved of her. It was the only onscreen wedding that I can think of that appeared to be happy and the celebration seemed quite positive. That may have been one of the few times where Jon seemed happy and relaxed and even smiled, not to mention the only one where the parties seemed willing, and most importantly where nobody was murdered during the affair. It gave the sense to me that these two might actually have a shot at being happy together.

One of the things I like about Jon Snow is his ability to think, and perform, outside the box of conventional thinking. This marriage is proof of his imaginative nature; and could be the type of procedure, and philosophy, that will enable the people of Westeros, or at least the northerners, to survive the dangers threatening them (winter, wights/others, civil war with the South). He really breaks with all traditions here and forges new to old; by joining a daughter of an old Northern House to a wildling leader and having them married with the rites of Rhlorr by Stannis' Red Priestess. In Alys Karstark, Jon has a willing and able partner in this new synthesis of tribes. It's almost a shame that she ends up wedding Sigorn; Alys would have made an excellent bride for Jon Snow himself if he could leave the Watch and become Lord of Winterfell. Alys is a determined and resilient girl; faced with a bridegroom who many noble-born maidens would fear and reject (can you imagine what a young Cersei would have made of the situation?), she vows that he had better fear her and seems intent on both charming and conquering him. Sigorn is probably feeling pretty lucky; not only does he get an attractive girl with the potential to inherit a very nice holding; but she's courageous and strong, which matters to Wildlings. Alys also seems to have a good sense of humor; which should serve her very well through a marriage that will definitely put them through some major culture shock.

And it was very nice to read an ASoIaF wedding where nobody was killed, not to mention rites of Rh'llor that did not involve burning anyone alive.

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spoiler from the Arianne sample chapter:

ooh boy, was that an interesting read :) And very very interesting details in the relationship between Arianne and Daemon Sand for the conversation we've been having on love and marriage, duty vs. desire and this whole concept of worthiness.

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I'm glad to see another Arianne chapter! Always interesting to see what she is up to. Spoiler from the chappie:

Brash, I was thinking the exact same thing! I read about Arianne and Damon Sand, her sworn shield who she couldn't marry because of his birth - but could sleep with! - and thought Hmmm...will something similar pop up in the Sansa arc?

It also gives a further insight into the sexual mores of Dorne. I think a woman had to marry someone of suitable birth, but could take paramours or lovers from a wider range of men (and maybe women too - the culture seems very accepting of same-sex relations).

There also seems to be some shades of Sansa and Arya in the Arianne and Elia Sand relationship, though the age difference is much larger. Interesting how Elia was indulged by her father just as Arya was.

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I'm glad to see another Arianne chapter! Always interesting to see what she is up to. Spoiler from the chappie:

Brash, I was thinking the exact same thing! I read about Arianne and Damon Sand, her sworn shield who she couldn't marry because of his birth - but could sleep with! - and thought Hmmm...will something similar pop up in the Sansa arc?

It also gives a further insight into the sexual mores of Dorne. I think a woman had to marry someone of suitable birth, but could take paramours or lovers from a wider range of men (and maybe women too - the culture seems very accepting of same-sex relations).

There also seems to be some shades of Sansa and Arya in the Arianne and Elia Sand relationship, though the age difference is much larger. Interesting how Elia was indulged by her father just as Arya was.

Indeed! It honestly has me super excited, because Martin is for sure sure going somewhere with this issue. Sansa, Dany, Asha, now Arianne - basically all the principal female characters, or women who we expect to hold positions of power in the future are all experiencing shades of this conflict. Elia definitely gave the Arya vibes - wild, love horses, wants to fight, etc.

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Raksha regarding this:

It's almost a shame that she ends up wedding Sigorn; Alys would have made an excellent bride for Jon Snow himself if he could leave the Watch and become Lord of Winterfell.

I had the same exact thought. I loved their interaction in that scene. It was so cute and flirty and Jon squeezed her hand twice and he seemed happy with her that I was really wishing that they were the ones getting married. In fact, Jon and Alys are my secret ship.

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I'm glad to see another Arianne chapter! Always interesting to see what she is up to. Spoiler from the chappie:

Brash, I was thinking the exact same thing! I read about Arianne and Damon Sand, her sworn shield who she couldn't marry because of his birth - but could sleep with! - and thought Hmmm...will something similar pop up in the Sansa arc?

It also gives a further insight into the sexual mores of Dorne. I think a woman had to marry someone of suitable birth, but could take paramours or lovers from a wider range of men (and maybe women too - the culture seems very accepting of same-sex relations).

There also seems to be some shades of Sansa and Arya in the Arianne and Elia Sand relationship, though the age difference is much larger. Interesting how Elia was indulged by her father just as Arya was.

Indeed! It honestly has me super excited, because Martin is for sure sure going somewhere with this issue. Sansa, Dany, Asha, now Arianne - basically all the principal female characters, or women who we expect to hold positions of power in the future are all experiencing shades of this conflict. Elia definitely gave the Arya vibes - wild, love horses, wants to fight, etc.

Loved this!

I saw real growth of Arianne as a character. Quite a bit of introspection from her. Did anyone else find some similarities in her growth that were similar to Sansa?

I did notice that her feelings towards Damon Sand. But, equally, I noticed his reaction. He wanted Arianne despite their difference in station and was not happy with just a night in bed.

And that duty vs. desire just keeps popping up. Seems like particularly good timing considering our recent discussion on marriage too. I'm growing more curious on how they will find the balance between the personal and political. I'm wondering more and more if we will get hints to the answer as we learn more of both Dornish and wilding culture.

Oh, yeah. And squee!!!

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Loved this!

I saw real growth of Arianne as a character. Quite a bit of introspection from her. Did anyone else find some similarities in her growth that were similar to Sansa?

I did notice that her feelings towards Damon Sand. But, equally, I noticed his reaction. He wanted Arianne despite their difference in station and was not happy with just a night in bed.

And that duty vs. desire just keeps popping up. Seems like particularly good timing considering our recent discussion on marriage too. I'm growing more curious on how they will find the balance between the personal and political. I'm wondering more and more if we will get hints to the answer as we learn more of both Dornish and wilding culture.

Oh, yeah. And squee!!!

Kitty, I'll reply to you in the new thread. Going to start it now.

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