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From Pawn to Player: Rethinking Sansa XVIII

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Jaime and Sansa: Parallel Disillusionment

“To get to the ideal, you must first accept the real.

To get where you want to go, you must first know where you are.”

MUSA KRAMNY.

If anything could sum up the whole of his character in a few words, it’d be these quotes: “That boy dreamed of being Arthur Dayne and ended up as the Smiling Knight,” and, “The things I do for love.” And for the young girl, it would be that she had been “a lady at three,” and believed that love was like the songs she’d learnt to hum at a tender age.

But reality had to say something to the contrary in both cases, and the pathway Jaime Lannister and Sansa Stark have wandered is one of disillusionment about the things they most cherished and that defined them.

He’d been a boy destined to be known as the Young Lion and outshine the greatest living Kingsguard, and she was a girl destined to be a perfect great lady and queen of the realm.

But he earned an unflattering reputation as the Kingslayer, and she ended up as the bastard of a man who uses her for her status and her looks, as others had done before.

He was a man willing to sacrifice everything, even morals, for the only woman he loved, and she was a girl who dreamt of being fortunate enough to find a love worthy of ballads.

But both of them ended up replaying their own twisted version of the story of Prince Aemon the Dragonknight and Queen Naerys.

Becoming a Lady, Becoming a Knight

How exactly did they end up in such unenviable positions? We do know that, like in most stories, theirs started with a dream simple and unambitious enough considering their birth: both strived to fulfill the ideal of their respective gender roles from a young age. The things that are said about both characters before we get to read their POVs address this core issue, that will be ever present in their respective storylines for the rest of the books.

Sansa was the second trueborn child and eldest daughter of the Warden of the North, and thanks to having her POV since the beginning of this series, whilst she’s still a little girl, we have a very precise picture of her upbringing and how her parents’ influenced her, and thus we know how she came to have the idealistic worldview and the personality she has. When she is first mentioned, in Catelyn I, she’s described as “gracious,” which is an early allusion to her demeanour as an impeccable little lady, and of the later chapters before she gets a voice, in one of her father’s POVs her name is mentioned in a marriage offer to join two great Houses, a lady’s usual lot in life; in another, there’s a comment on her radiant appearance beside the Crown Prince at a banquet, and in the next her future as the highest-ranking woman in the Seven Kingdoms is decided by her parents, without her being really aware of the larger implications as they are. It’s not after Arya I, seven chapters after the start of the story, that it’s established how well suited she is for the role in behaviour as well as poise.

Sansa had everything. Sansa was two years older; maybe by the time Arya had been born, there had been nothing left. Often it felt that way. Sansa could sew and dance and sing. She wrote poetry. She knew how to dress. She played the high harp and the bells. Worse, she was beautiful. Sansa had gotten their mother’s fine high cheekbones and the thick auburn hair of the Tullys.

The description historian Lynne Elliot makes of the education of a young noblewoman in Becoming a Lady is precisely the one Sansa received from her mother and her septa: sewing and embroidering, weaving, dressing and behaving properly, reading and writing, as well as some history, heraldry, and basic medicine and healing for urgencies, praying, playing musical instruments and singing, dancing, running a household and defending it, hunting with birds of prey or bows, horse-riding, and so on, though we don’t see her doing some of these things in real time.

If these mother and female mentor figures had an important hand in raising her as the ideal of a lady, so deeply ingrained in her mind that even her direwolf is named after this role, then we also must look in Winterfell itself for the origin of her fancy notions of heroes of song and story; and what we find is that it’s not only Old Nan who was telling the children some tales they all took to heart. In the words of Bran, their father Eddard, too, “would sit before the fire in the evening and talk softly of the age of heroes and the children of the forest.” This is a very important aspect to highlight, because psychologists have identified as a recurrent and constant trait in highly idealistic people having a parent, grandparent or elder relative/friend, encouraging them to read stories and/or narrating it themselves, and the probability of internalising idealism is higher if it comes from a parental or mentor figure they admire. So, as there was nothing in the Stark environment that discouraged credulity and imagination-motivated behaviour, once she is formally betrothed to Joffrey, in whom she stresses being “gallant” above his social position, and has to move to the southron court in which she is expected to shine, Sansa carried on patterning herself and her perception of others after the chivalric ideals she had gotten at home.

Jaime has a position similar to Sansa’s: he is the second trueborn child and eldest son of the Warden of the West; but he’s more of an exercise in guesswork, as he’s already experiencing the consequences of his acts since long before the story begins. Although he is first seen through the eyes of three Stark men, from Eddard to Jon to Brandon, he’s introduced earlier, in Daenerys I, and both she and her brother Viserys present him as “the Kingslayer,” twice, and once as simply “Lannister.” Hence we get to know the reputation that precedes him everywhere he goes before we learn his name, and later we read how the action that earned him his sobriquet pervades every character’s opinion of him. Eddard’s initial observation is limited to a mere description of his arrival with the royal retinue, with emphasis on a physical trait, but his second observation is noteworthy, because it’s the first interaction we read of him with Cersei, where he takes her quietly away to prevent an argument with the king over Lyanna. Then another observation comes from Jon Snow, and shows him as the image of the ideal of Westerosi masculinity whilst highlighting his bad reputation at the same time, and the mention by Brandon on his way to the fateful last climbing also alludes to his image as a knight from the stories, but again he is discounted as a Kingsguard for breaking his oaths.

What little we know of his childhood comes chiefly from a few of his and Cersei’s recollections, and we have to construct a picture of his upbringing based on that and the examples we have of the formation of highborn males from boys like Brandon and Tommen, as well as from historical data, which doesn’t differ much from Martin’s depiction. In Becoming a Knight, Elliot states that the formal education of a noble child began at seven, approximately the same age modern children start elementary school; and when the child was a male he usually was taught his letters either by an educator or a parent, and sent to serve as a page in another noble house, where the lord would become his first mentor, teaching him about goodness, service, honour and protection of the ladies and the weak, qualities an aristocrat was supposed to cultivate; then he became a squire for a knight at fourteen and learnt to fight with real weapons and became an anointed knight at eighteen, pledging his loyalty to his overlord or his sovereign and receiving his first sword. The ages are rough estimates, as some reached the second and third stages of knighthood way earlier. Jaime wasn’t sent away to foster with any other lord but was educated at home, which indicates that the place of mentor responsible of inculcating values and proper noble behaviour was filled first by his mother, Lady Joanna, as Tywin was for the most part absent in King’s Landing when his twins were young.

“You cannot eat love, nor buy a horse with it, nor warm your halls on a cold night,” she heard him tell Jaime once, when her brother had been no older than Tommen.

And Cersei’s memory above shows that it was their father who would try to impress on him the Lannister code for handling situations and people, and his own disregard for affections. The first thing he’d learn eventually, the second he’d discard.

Having a twin that happened to be a girl, Jaime seems to have spent his earliest years not being really aware of the distinct roles society imposed on each gender until a wooden sword was put on his hand and he was dispatched off to the yard to get some bruises in training and his twin was given a needle and a piece of cloth, an interesting upside-down parallel to the Sansa/Arya dynamic, in which the elder Lannister and the younger Stark balk at the traditional role, whereas the elder Stark and the younger Lannister submerge merrily in the role. Before this, he lived mirroring Cersei, as he’d even wear her dresses to play the ages-old game of passing off one as the other. From our studies on the development of boy/girl twins, we know that girls are months ahead of their boy twins in terms of cognitive and speech development, which means they talk earlier… and they boss people around earlier, too, due to this advantageous acquisition of language that is a tool to manipulate, express their childish wishes and fears, “mother” their sibling, and, in general, adopt a “take charge” and possessive attitude in relation to him. It’s also known that boys in general develop speech later and have a tendency to language problems and delay, written or spoken, but it’s more pronounced in boys that happen to be twins to a girl; which explains why Jaime had difficulty with learning his letters.

After his mother’s death, he’d finally be sent away to squire for Sumner Crakehall; four years of polishing his skills and learning the trade, and an excellent squire he turned out to be, winning in the mêlée at a tournament when he was three-and-ten, possibly competing against older or more experienced men, which must have fuelled his expectations on what he’d become once he got his spurs and his sword:

“When I was a squire I told myself I’d be the man to slay the Smiling Knight.”

“The Smiling Knight?” She sounded lost. “Who was that?”

The Mountain of my boyhood. Half as big, but twice as mad.

A couple of years later, he’d have the opportunity to ride with the party hunting for this famous outlaw of the Kingswood Brotherhood, led by the Kingsguard he admired so much, performed his duty outstandingly and was knighted on the field by Dayne himself. Everything had gone smoothly and according to the stories for the hopeful little squire thus far.

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Love Wasn’t Like that Song

Sansa

The story of Aemon and Naerys Targaryen is one of the most famous romances in song along that of Florian and Jonquil, and it’s said to be a melancholy tune, because the occurrences that inspired it are likewise sad. Prince Aemon was the greatest knight of his time, equaled only by Cregan Stark of Winterfell in swordsmanship, an individual of fine qualities, and very much attached to his sister. But he was a younger son and politics dictated that she was for the eldest brother and heir, Aegon V, a profligate king, who didn’t love her. So Queen Naerys, a delicate and beautiful petite, quiet by nature and very religious, married the wrong brother in a ceremony where the right brother wept, and though she would never be maltreated due to the respectful fear everyone had of the Dragonknight, she had to endure humiliations throughout the duration of her marriage, as her husband openly flaunted his countless mistresses for all the kingdoms to see, and then further humiliated her by pulling a John of Gaunt and legitimising four of his bastards, three males and one female—incidentally, GRRM could’ve taken this from a historical event, as the legitimised bastard children of the Duke of Lancaster and Katherine Swynford were four as well, three boys and one girl surnamed Beaufort—after giving the ancestral Targaryen sword to his bastard instead of his trueborn son, Daeron, who possibly was his nephew in reality, as rumours had it. Aemon would always be Naerys’ emotional support, brighten her day and champion her, but he would die shielding his incompetent king from a vendetta planned by the brothers of a man he’d ordered killed for sleeping with his mistress, and though nothing else is said of Naerys, considering that she’d felt so miserable in her marriage as to beg to join the Silent Sisters, it’s not hard to imagine she became even more withdrawn and pious until her own demise.

All the Stark children have favourite heroic figures, and Prince Aemon is amongst the legends Jon, Sansa and Brandon hero-worshipped, not surprising considering the popularity of the story and the prince’s brief connection to Lord Cregan, one of their own bloodline whose bones are in the crypts, which would make him somehow more “real” and “close” in their infantile minds than the other more distant heroes, as the image of what or who children would like to be is most often embodied by figures in their direct environment however tenuous their presence may be. The legendary Dragonknight is mentioned twenty nine times in all five books, usually alone, and the character in whose chapters he appears more frequently is Sansa, who is also the first of only four people to name him together with his sister. After she’s betrothed to the heir of the realm, little Sansa starts modeling a concrete representation of her aspirations for this relationship after the examples in her favourite songs, which in itself is nothing more than a child’s internalising of the characteristics of his or her secondary ideal—long before they learn about and practise hero-worshipping, which even adults do, children only know about and practise ancestor-worshipping, in which the role model is a family member, usually a parent or grandparent—that becomes more realistic as the child grows in terms of offering functional qualities that the child can incorporate, but this requires parental assistance by way of discussing with the child who their ideal is, as it helps the child to move from fantasy toward reality, so the ideal that was initially based on legendary figures is forged into a representation of someone that embodies a more complex and reality-oriented ideal the child can strive for, which sadly neither Ned nor Catelyn did.

So Sansa follows her idealist view on love, the only one she knows in the absence of an alternate worldview. The first comparison she makes of her own relationship to the one in the song is when she fancies herself rescued by her good-looking prince from the “monsters” Ser Ilyn and the Hound, in imitation of the Targaryen Kingsguard defending his queen’s honour, as Joffrey had been showing his gallant facet all the way from Winterfell, where he’s behaved courteously in her presence too, demonstrated an interest in her and a desire to impress her favourably, playing the sweet little golden knight to the lady she is, thus fulfilling all the requirements in her ideal of a chivalrous hero. Then the disastrous squabble at that same place happens; and by the point we get to read the second comparison of her feelings for Joffrey to this story—I love him as much as Queen Naerys loved Prince Aemon the Dragonknight”—and to Florian and Jonquil when her father tells her that they are to leave for home, it’s many a chapter later and several weeks have elapsed, and she had reconciled with him, but we do know that she hated him for a time as a result from that incident, the first crack in her idealisation of her future husband. This is the last time she ever consciously compares herself and Joffrey with the princely couple, though she maintains her view on stories and still submerges herself in the reading of this particular tale amongst others, as consolation during a scary time as was her father’s imprisonment. Shortly afterwards, Joffrey would disabuse her of any naïve conception she might still have harboured about their “love.”

Paradoxically, it’s when she is disillusioned of the Prince Aemon in Lannister crimson she’d believed he was that the actual reliving of the story begins. She is still performing as Naerys in this absurd new choreography, but the male parts have been reversed: Joffrey has gone from a supposed Aemon to despicable Aegon, to whom he likened himself later in his short reign when he told Sansa:

“A king can have other women. Whores. My father did. One of the Aegons did too. The third one, or the fourth. He had lots of whores and lots of bastards.”

“He will, or I’ll have his head. That King Aegon, he had any woman he wanted, whether they were married or no.”

And Sandor Clegane, a lowborn guard nobody would ever compare to the Dragonknight, least of all himself, and who’s not a knight to boot, stepped in as the Kingsguard romantically involved with his king’s betrothed, which if discovered could’ve been almost as serious a contravention of norms as if it were with the queen herself, considering that a royal betrothal isn’t taken lightly in Westeros and requires none other than the High Septon in person to break it—which reminds me, in biblical times the betrothed were considered practically married and in order to break the engagement a divorce was necessary—though he’s not prepared for the emotional bonding that evolves over their time together and she is oblivious to his feelings, and her own aren’t clear yet.

Aemon once entered a tourney just so he could spare his sister the bitter experience of seeing the latest royal mistress as Queen of Love and Beauty, and in what could be the earliest and very broad parallel, Sandor became unintentionally the champion in a tourney of which Sansa could be technically considered the Queen of Love and Beauty, having defeated Jaime Lannister along the way, against whom she had silently bet if her words of satisfaction at his losing that round are any indication. But he’s not a Kingsguard yet, so the parallelisms have to wait for the next volume, in which he has a more active role to play in the little bird’s life. Unlike Aegon IV, Joffrey did employ physical violence against his helpless future queen, as well as threats of murder, rape and imposing his bastard on her, and Clegane, unlike the man with whom he’s a snowy cloak in common, is not in a position of power to prevent Sansa from being harmed by a sovereign most interested in demeaning her in all possible manners, but he does help her first by giving her valuable advice on how to deal with Joffrey and the rotten court, forgoes his duty to his liege for her sake in more than one occasion by covering for her, saves her during a riot… Yet none of them would think of a conscious association of this song to their story. It’s Sansa’s favourite song, Florian and Jonquil, the one associated with Sandor and her throughout the most significant period in their interactions (in ACOK, Florian and Jonquil are mentioned only in Sansa’s POVs, unlike in the other volumes), although it’s not a conscious association either. But he does come to associate it with her, as he shows interest in this song only after a moment of drunkenness at the Serpentine steps that lowered his guard and let loose his feelings for the girl; up to this point, he’d harshly mocked the song, and much later demands precisely that one from her, which makes one suspect a change in opinion took place in the meantime, as under this light, his mocking looks genuinely cynical rather than a pose.

Change, that’s perhaps the biggest difference in these two stories, where parallels aren’t exact to begin with. It cannot be stressed enough that both reap the benefit from the mutual personal development their interaction sparks, short-term and long-term. Both. Her because she starts to bring together all the disparate elements from her life and stories into an understandably more complex schema and will end up incorporating into this frame a view of relationships that privileges love over an aristocratic title, the possibility of a love that doesn’t negate her own decisions, her value as an individual, her initiative and her sexual desire in pro of a political union, as Naerys had to suffer. And the “Aemon” figure in this one, himself the picture of disillusionment, with a pinch of nihilism and another pinch of lifelong emotional disorders for spice, also gets an actual benefit from this relationship from the girl that has theretofore kept her hopes concerning love and her humanity in the face of brutality directed toward her and her family, and who can restore enough hope to propel him toward finding his own way to a better schema.

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Jaime

Unlike the little girl’s case, this Lannister’s disillusionment about love evolved in three separate phases with the same woman, the first of which occurred when he was a quite idealistic youth of five-and-ten, which we don’t see in real time but through memories.

Going back to Jaime and Cersei’s childhood, there’s an absence of the three key factors that foster this type of unconventional relationship, namely a dysfunctional family dynamic, parents with little or no affection between them and toward their offspring, and children starved for it, whilst Lady Joanna was alive, as she provided the much needed balance to the harsh Tywin and affection for her children. We know from both Lannisters’ flashbacks that they were very close, but it doesn’t look like anything unusual considering that they were the only children and twins, because if single siblings of a similar age tend to cling to each other when very little, then if they’re twins we have to add that they have a higher capacity for sharing, closeness and intimacy, as well as more difficulty than singles for being alone and setting limits for each other and others. We read that they prayed together in the sept, bathed together and he scrubbed her back, and were caught “playing” a game they shouldn’t be according to their mother. Only the latter occurrence seems significant on glance, but it can also be childish curiosity about sexuality, and Joanna, like most parents who “catch” their little ones playing doctor, was upset and reacted by separating them with no explanation (that we know of), guards at the door and a threat to tell their father if they repeated it instead, something that should never be done in these circumstances because it’s counterproductive.

After Joanna’s death, they grew up with a cold Tywin, who wouldn’t win an award to the amorous father, as their only model, and their relationship blooms over the years; but the emotional investment each of them has put into it isn’t equal. She is closer to their father than Jaime, and from a very young age has this desire to be queen, because her father promised at age six or seven that she would be Cersei Targaryen, wife to Prince Rhaegar, whom she idealises and goes as far as drawing herself and him riding a dragon. Without having met him yet, she takes her father’s word to heart and promises him not to tell anyone, not even Jaime; and in order to keep this secret from his twin, she lies to him, and considering that Jaime doesn’t recall any talk of Cersei and Rhaegar from this time but from her time at court, it’s possible that he didn’t know either when the Prince of Dragonstone went to Lannisport and she finally met him at age ten:

Next to Rhaegar, even her beautiful Jaime had seemed no more than a callow boy.
The prince is going to be my husband
, she had thought, giddy with excitement
, and when the old king dies I’ll be the queen.

So she never shared this idealised fantasy and kept her infatuation a secret, and she seems to have internalised their father’s dreams for her to the point of placing more value in queenship than in her brother. Two years later, as Jaime is sent to squire for Crakehall, Cersei is kept at court by her father, who refused every offer for her hand, patiently waiting for Viserys to grow up or Rhaegar to become a widower. At age 15, shortly after earning his spurs, he’s told by Cersei about their father’s plan to marry him to Lysa Tully, and she proposes he join the Kingsguard to avoid this and be with her. He objects, first by naming his father and then his status as heir of Casterly Rock. “Is it a rock you want? Or me?” asked she, and he had to choose between a claim and love.

Casterly Rock seemed a small price to pay to be near her always. He gave his consent, and Cersei promised to do the rest.

He chose her, then, over being Lord Jaime Lannister of Casterly Rock, without their father’s knowledge, and one month later he’d wrap a white cloak around his shoulders, aware that he was sacrificing all worldly power and would sacrifice honour for love, as he knew that he’d soon break the vows he was just taking to be with his sister. Their plan, however, floundered, and none of them achieved what they wanted. Tywin resigned the Handship in a fury, took Cersei back home, and Jaime stayed at court to walk alone the long path that ended up in kingslaying. Cersei never recovered from this bitterness, as almost two decades later, she still laments the wreckage of a betrothal that never was, but that she fancies was meant to happen “as the gods intended,” and recalls that as consolation after the match was rejected, she’d gotten the same promise from her aunt that Eddard Stark made to Sansa, that her father would find another man, a better man than the Crown Prince she wouldn’t have, for her.

But…

Father found no better man. Instead he gave me Robert.

Thus the Robert-Cersei-Jaime triangle came upon the stage. As theirs is the one that most closely resembles the Aegon-Naerys-Aemon narrative, it was to be expected that Jaime’s chapters followed Sansa’s in number of allusions. Amongst the parallels, we can find:

  • Both Aegon IV and Robert lacked ability for ruling.
  • Both used to be fit and agreeable-looking as youths and later acquired a fondness of wine and food.
  • Both had been infatuated with a fiery girl: Daena Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, in different circumstances.
  • Both had to marry someone they didn’t love for political reasons.
  • Jaime cried in Cersei’s wedding as Aemon did in Naerys’.
  • Jaime was champion in the tourney held to celebrate this wedding, so it’s possible that he crowned his sister Queen of Love and Beauty then, as Aemon did at least once.
  • Both kings mistreated their queens, although Aegon is said to have never beaten his as Robert did.
  • Naerys was miserable in her marriage, and Cersei was embittered.
  • Both queens took only one lover for the duration of their marriages.
  • Both looked for support to their confirmed/rumoured lovers.
  • Jaime was a Kingsguard and would become Lord Commander, like Aemon.
  • Both have had bastard offspring (rumoured in the case of Aemon/Naerys).
  • Both queens turned all their love to their eldest sons, who are different in personality.

This marriage was the second phase in Jaime’s disenchantment, and a crushing blow to the naïve ideal of love he’d harboured. Psychologically, the loss of a very cherished ideal or dream can be akin to grieving for a loss due to death, as it follows a similar cognitive and neurobiological pattern, and the more identified the person is with/the closer his emotional life is entwined with that ideal now lost, the more intense his grief will be; and the process usually ends in acceptance after working through the pain to adjust to a new reality and move forward. But Lannisters wouldn’t be Lannisters without a varying dose of cognitive actual/ideal self-discrepancies, and rather than acknowledging the pain and working through it, he chose a method of avoidant conflict resolution that ignored his intuition, true feelings and intelligence, but allowed him to reconcile with the loss of this idealised love by settling for what was left: sexual intercourse and undisclosed fatherhood. Usually these are the outcomes most common in badly resolved loss of ideals: you become either depressed or embittered (Cersei), you aggressively attack what crushed your ideal (Sandor), or you settle for the ruins and try to convince yourself that the building is still habitable, cracks on the wall, falling bricks and all (Jaime). All have in common the refusal to work through the grief that a shattered worldview causes (and this is why Sansa’s resolution is wiser, as she embraces it and labours on the new complexities she finds); which is what Jaime does: he adopts a merry aloofness sprinkled with rash arrogance and cynicism. That’s how he endures having Cersei and not having her at the same time, standing guard at her door as probably Aemon had to stand guard outside Naerys’ chambers, too, and siring the children to whom he would never be a true father, just the distant Ser Uncle.

By the time he pushes Bran out of the window, he’s already some questionable “things done for love” on his numbed conscience, as we’ve seen, and will continue to do some more before he’s captured in the battlefield. He will be released a year later and, unbeknownst to him, this will be a turning point for him in relation to his affair with Cersei, and he’ll have to face all that he’s been keeping buried in the backyard.

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Loss and gain

At the beginning, we saw how Jaime became a promising knight and a Kingsguard at fifteen, toppling Prince Aemon from the pedestal of youngest White Sword ever; and in the second part we saw the reasons he gave for joining this garde de corps. However, any youthful excitement he’d have felt at this would be cut neatly as if with a Valyrian blade when he learnt the truth of his appointment to the dream team of royal bodyguards and got to experience life at court as part of them. He’d not been chosen because he was little Ser Jaime, until not so long ago a green squire with a natural ability for fighting, in the words of another legendary Kingsguard, and whose distinguished service had caught the eye of the Sword of the Morning, who had knighted him earlier than usual as recompense. No; he’d been chosen because he was Jaime son of Tywin of the clan Lannister, Hand of an exceedingly paranoid king that had taken him, his heir, to spite the father. For him, realising that the much coveted position hadn’t been won by merit, as a Kingsguard was supposed to be selected according to the stories, was a slap in the face and damaged his self-image. Because even if he knew very well that he was going to readily forsake his vows of celibacy and perhaps commit high treason if Cersei became queen, he still believed in what knighthood stood for. He still believed in and followed most of the vows of a knight, which can vary from one century to another and from one country to another, but three remain constant even in GRRM’s pseudo-medieval setting: to serve and obey those placed in authority, to protect the weak and defenceless (which in some variations is phrased thus: “To protect those who cannot protect themselves.”), and to live by honour and glory.

Under the umbrella of Dayne, he had been part of a group of knights and men-at-arms that served obediently and loyally, protected the innocent from the Gregor Clegane on steroids of the time, earned the peasantry’s love and support, and won more honour and glory alongside Ser Arthur. Yet here he was now: the realm admired him for earning his white cloak so young thanks to his military prowess, but he knew it was a filthy lie and he was just a pawn, which prompted him to get closer and look up to Arthur Dayne, the man who had valued him for his own qualifications, as a mentor figure often mingled with that of a father his own was never going to be. Two more blows came, one was that he had to stand guard at the door of the royal bedchamber whilst the defenceless Queen Rhaella screamed as she was raped and badly hurt by a king he was sworn to obey and protect. Then, he had to stand by as the monarch he’d to obey cooked Lord Rickard and strangled Brandon Stark. The realm admired him for being so good a warrior and great knight as the likes of the White Bull, Dayne and Ser Barristan, yet here he was: protecting the rapist and not the weak raped, protecting the beast and not the ravaged lady, protecting the cruelty and injustice of the king and not the innocent. On top of all that, Aerys threw an additional insult at the Kingsguard and Jaime in particular by declaring fire the royal champion in a trial by combat instead of a knight. Decades later, of all the terrible things he must have witnessed or done in the battlefield, he remembers clearly the state of the Targaryen queen’s poor body after one of the rapes she’d to suffer and the smell of the Northman’s flesh burning, and how he was told to bear it all like a good little obedient knight, which he did, going inwardly. And when he at long last snapped when the king ordered the deaths of numberless civilians by wildfire and he’d been ordered to become a kinslayer, he became a kingslayer instead after deciding to be for once consistent with his personal moral code. “The Kingslayer,” the realm dubbed him and that was his reward.

Jaime Lannister doesn’t possess the profound early psychological trauma Sandor Clegane has, but these experiences under the last dragonking had a destructive effect on what remnants there were of his ideal of knighthood, honour and faith in himself and in the gods, in a manner similar to how another Targaryen’s knighting of the Mountain finished off the already feeble hold on chivalrous ideals his little brother had. See the similarities in their views on knights they revealed to the girls they then used to call “stupid wench” and “stupid little bird” respectively:

Jaime and Brienne:

“No true knight would condone such wanton butchery.”

“True knights see worse every time they ride to war, wench,” said Jaime. “And do worse, yes.”

Sandor and Sansa:

“True knights protect the weak.”

He snorted. “There are no true knights, no more than there are gods. If you can’t protect yourself, die and get out of the way of those who can. Sharp steel and strong arms rule this world, don’t ever believe any different.”

On justice, punishment and the gods:

Jaime and Catelyn:

“Your crimes will have earned you a place of torment in the deepest of the seven hells, if the gods are just.”

“What gods are those, Lady Catelyn? The trees your husband prayed to? How well did they serve him when my sister took his head off?” Jaime gave a chuckle. “If there are gods, why is the world so full of pain and injustice?”

Sandor and Sansa:

“Aren’t you afraid? The gods might send you down to some terrible hell for all the evil you’ve done.”

“What evil?” He laughed. “What gods?”

And how both took refuge behind a sword (… with a horse):

Jaime:

Nothing can hurt me so long as I have a sword.

Sandor:

“So long as I have this,” he said, lifting the sword from her throat, “there’s no man on earth I need fear.”

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This is the man we finally get to know in A Storm of Swords in his own words; he’s already morally wrecked when we get into his mind, has a bad reputation, and what was left of his ideals of honour had been wiped out even before he was reunited with his sister when she came back to court to be Robert’s queen and they relived the triangle and matrimonial woes of two previous Targaryen couples, as described in the second part of this essay. On this occasion, Jaime is en route to reunite with his sister as well; he had been released by Catelyn Stark, the mother of his gaoler and mother of the captive whose gaoler happens to be Jaime’s son, on the solemn vow of returning Sansa and her sister safe and unharmed.

An east wind blew through his tangled hair, as soft and fragrant as Cersei’s fingers.

When we open his very own first POV, this is the first line we read, a mention of Cersei in pleasant terms. And in the rest of this chapter there’s plenty of these passages containing the name of Cersei, more numerous here than in any other chapter of his in this volume, revealing that, despite all, his feelings for her still run deep. And he will be immersing himself in the pleasurable background music of “Cersei this, Cersei that...” playing in his head for the rest of the journey. He does not suspect that he’ll undergo the third phase of his disillusionment with love, which curiously coincides with his regaining a measure of the value he had once placed on honour. His escort, Brienne of Tarth, has a key role to play in this, as she will manage to pierce through his cynicism and force him to face the hollowness within and the shame his crimes have turned his life into. She dares call him monster twice, as Sansa had dared call the Hound “awful,” and she displays a fierceness he comes to admire—“She’s the Hound with teats”— as Sansa admired the ferocity of the man mentioned, as well as her physical strength, fearlessness and honour. And that’s only in the first chapter. As the journey progresses, she goes further and relentlessly accuses him of failing as a knight:

“You’ve harmed others. Those you were sworn to protect. The weak, the innocent...”

Why did you take the oath?” she demanded. “Why don the white cloak if you meant to betray all it stood for?”

“Aerys was mad and cruel, no one has ever denied that. He was still king, crowned and anointed. And you had sworn to protect him.”

“It is a rare and precious gift to be a knight,” she said, “and even more so a knight of the Kingsguard. It is a gift given to few, a gift you scorned and soiled.”

Jaime tries to deflect all her verbal arrows, trying to justify his murder attempt on Bran by questioning the little child’s innocence, being sarcastic and mocking her, rationalising his motivation for joining the Kingsguard, feeling comfortably victimised in believing that nobody has a right to judge him because nobody knows that he slit Aerys’ throat to save King’s Landing, and telling himself that he’s beyond caring about judgments. Yet Brienne’s blunt honesty affects him subconsciously, because she doesn’t just remind him of the broken vows of protecting the weak and innocent as Catelyn did; she doesn’t just condemn him for being the Kingslayer, as everyone in the realm does, she doesn’t tell in jest not to make an habit of it, as Robert did, she doesn’t just condemn him in silence, as Eddard did. Instead, she lays out the ideal of knighthood as a gift few are given and even fewer achieve greatness as knight and Kingsguard. In sum: she’s telling him that he, Jaime Lannister, had the opportunity to become a great knight as he’d dreamt and failed in achieving such greatness. That shook him internally, for after this, he dreamt of the kingslaying, of the silent judgment of Lord Stark and of wildfire.

And as if to visually reinforce Brienne’s message, on his way from Riverrun to King’s Landing, Jaime would contemplate terrible scenes in two places associated with his and Sansa’s dreams, which symbolised what these had become. The first was at Maidenpool:

Jaime took one look and burst into song.
“Six maids there were in a spring-fed pool...”

The tragedy in this scene is that the savagery of war has depleted the pool where Sansa’s favourite romance originated of boys and girls bathing and laughing mirthfully in there, and filled it with corpses, many corpses rotting in it and poisoning the waters. If Martin didn’t intend to use Jaime’s sarcastic singing to get across his point on the horrors of war and the death of innocence, he could’ve taken advantage of any other occasion to have someone singing at least half a verse from any of the songs based on a legend various characters mention, but only Jaime is the one who sings, and precisely here and now. Meanwhile at King’s Landing, Sansa had been planning her escape with a fake Florian the Fool, who in reality has sold her for gold to a man most eager to control her; and has finally figured out that her infatuation with Loras was one-sided. She is also played by the ambitious Tyrell women for a claim she still doesn’t realise she has, but will soon learn what being a lady poised to inherit a prestigious title means for her personal aspirations. She believes she will be at least safe in Highgarden, and still has hopes of being happy and making her possible husband love her for herself and not merely for the title of Heir to Winterfell she’s written on her forehead. A harsh fate befalls her at the end of this same month when she’s wedded by force in a shameful ceremony, and she’s made a good-sister to the Kingslayer, the first Lannister she’d considered “wicked.”

After watching this scene, Jaime decides that he really would return Sansa, even if it did nothing to improve his reputation as oathbreaker, just to keep his word when everyone expects him to happily break it; and he also decides that he will marry Cersei, reasoning that the throne could be kept with swords as it was won by the late king, and that the realm would have to tolerate their incestuous union as they did for the former dynasty. But he and Brienne are captured by the Bloody Mummers as they’re fighting.

Now handless, desperation leads him to attempt at suicide by provoking one of his captors, which reminds us of that time Sansa had tried to jump with Joffrey to their death after the traumatic scene with her father’s head. Sandor prevented that suicide and covered for her, and here “the Hound with teats” gets Jaime up again reminding him that he still has more than one reason to live, and once more her verbal arrow hit the target: Craven. Why did implying cowardice affect him enough to get him back on his feet? Again, we return to Brienne’s opinion on the gift of knighthood: it follows the Aristotelian thesis that courage is the capacity to balance fear and confidence fed by innate strength, and therefore cravenness is the failure to master fear due to inner weakness. It kicks Jaime where it hurts: in his personal honour, and he goes from lamenting that without his sword hand he is nothing to forcing himself to eat to live, to save Brienne from rape, and to recite to himself that he’s stronger than they believe, and still a Lannister, a Kingsguard.

A bitter smile touched Jaime’s lips as they crossed that torn ground. Someone had dug a privy trench in the very spot where he’d once knelt before the king to say his vows
. I never dreamed how quick the sweet would turn to sour. Aerys would not even let me savor that one night. He honored me, and then he spat on me.

The scene above is the second one associated with a lost youthful ideal, which he contemplates upon arriving at Harrenhal. There’s a glaring dark irony in the fact that the site is now a privy trench and he a Kingsguard “with shit for honour.”

Following this, he has the conversation at the bathhouse with Brienne, in which she unintentionally wrestles out a detailed confession of his famous execution of Aerys from him. It begins with him wounding her with his sarcasm, but he gets aroused when she stands up to leave, which he tries to explain by telling himself it’s because he’s not been with Cersei in a long time, and then feels shamed and asks her to forgive him. In a previous chapter, he’d felt the need to make her understand why he joined the Kingsguard, and had hotly argued that it had been the white cloak that soiled him and not the other way round. Now, as she’s to give him a little speech on how trust is built, he interrupts her, feeling the inexplicable need to talk with someone about his demons, to have someone listen, and for a second time mentions being soiled, but now says “Soiled my white cloak,” quite a telling choice of words, as he owns responsibility. It must’ve felt good to have this conversation with a woman, so different from those he was used to with Cersei, jumping into bed or recklessly offering to solve a problem with the swiftest method of them all: a sword.

At Harrenhal, they learn of the first setback: Sansa has been married to the Imp, and Jaime thinks that it must’ve made his brother happy, thinking of Tysha, the guilty secret that pervades their brotherly relationship. He’s wrong, of course. Sansa is anything but happy in this marriage. She’s been mourning her family in silence, and has been clinging to her courtesy armour to endure all this misery until she could leave with Dontos, to encounter more terrible disillusionment, and this time she’ll fall into the trap set by Littlefinger, who’s going to be for Sansa a negative mentor figure in contraposition to the positive mentor figure Arthur Dayne is going to be for Jaime, for whilst Baelish strips her of her status as a lady for now, poses as her fake father and works on undermining her moral code and honour, Dayne’s memory assists Jaime in recovering his.

As Jaime continues his journey, he has a dream whilst resting on a weirwood stump, again after he goes to sleep hoping to dream of Cersei as in the previous one he had. This is a dream filled with rebirth imagery and foreshadowing, which requires longer and complex interpretations; but for the purpose of this analysis, the things that stand out are that he’s naked in front of the people he finds there, living and dead, and what they stand for. Nakedness in itself is common in dreams and too easy to interpret through lots of theoretical lenses, but this begs a particular angle of interpretation as he’s naked in the crypts of Casterly Rock, the place of his birth, and is accompanied by a woman who’s the only one to stay by his side and champion him; all of which favours the Jungian view over others: the persona—the outward image/the mask presented to the world—is tied to clothes, so if you are stripped of them and presented bare, it means you’ve been also stripped of your persona because the protection it gave was inadequate. Without his clothes in Lannister colours in the seat of the Lannister family, stripped of the self-delusion that’s a trademark in this branch, Jaime has to face three Lannisters that have shaped his life: a. Tywin, who wished he be Jaime the Young Lion first and then Lord Jaime of Casterly Rock; b. Cersei, who wanted him to be Ser Jaime of the Kingsguard so he stayed unmarried and with her as only lover for life, and c. Joffrey, the son that doesn’t know him as father. Without the gold armour of Ser Jaime the Kingslayer, stripped of the self-deceit that he’s construed around this in order to reconcile his disillusionment with knighthood, he’s to face Brienne, almost a beauty and almost a knight, and realise that he’s a beautiful man with a ugly conscience and a knight with no honour. Without the white armour and cloak of the Kingsguard, stripped of self-justification, he’s to face the judgment of his Sworn Brothers and Prince Rhaegar, and own the guilt of his perceived failure to protect the royal children and the Crown Princess and being an oathbreaker. All this indicates the need of reshaping this persona (by either reincorporating older elements lying buried in the deepest layers of the self or creating new ones), which should follow in short, as the first step is to go back to Brienne, and take her out of the bear pit and away with him. He, perceived as a liar, is more honest within the crypts of his home, like Sansa, perceived as weak, is stronger within the walls of her home, as shown in the building of snow Winterfell, a scene in which her hopefulness in the midst of disappointing occurrences is perceptible.

When Jaime is about to arrive in King’s Landing, he learns that Sansa is gone and Joffrey is dead. It’s a peculiar set of role reversals: he and Sansa, father and daughter of the captors, are still alive, whereas Joffrey and Catelyn, son and mother of the hostages, are now both dead. The father’s family had an active role in the murder of the mother, and the daughter had been framed in the murder of the son. Mother and father have equivocal beliefs about culpability in these deaths, for Catelyn died believing Jaime an accomplice in the butchering of her son due to that casual “Jaime Lannister sends his regards,” and Jaime believes her daughter had an active hand in poisoning his son. Catelyn died mourning her babies and Sansa fled mourning her mother, but Jaime can’t mourn the son he never was really close to.

It’s at his destination that we see more of how the dream’s effects on his unconscious manifest through the choices he makes for himself: he goes to the queen wanting to be a husband and a father despite the problems it would arise, and she turns away from him. Losses number one and two: Joffrey and Cersei. Then he goes to see Tywin, who wants him to quit the Kingsguard, marry and have the Rock, and he refuses. Loss number three. Then he gives to Brienne a sword tellingly named Oathkeeper, and sets her on a quest for Sansa. A guilty Kingslayer sends a falsely accused kingslayer to search for another falsely accused kingslayer, a last chance for honour, as he put it; a gain amongst many loses. Finally, he goes to free Tyrion, confesses the truth about Tysha and gets a poisonous combo of a truth and a lie in return. Loss number four.

So here we leave our lady and knight, poised for rebirth, transformation, redemption, regaining agency, whichever term you prefer. “It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities,” said J. K. Rowling; and few things can open a window into the core of a character’s being as how they chose to deal with their disillusionment.

His crushed his ideals and all he ever believed in, and he broke. Thus he allowed himself to be soiled, to be corrupted, and resigned himself to living as a failed and dishonoured knight and settling for the leftovers of love, and it took a traumatic maiming and Brienne of Tarth with her own exemplary knightly conduct, honour and honesty (pre-Stoneheart, that is) to make him care again about redeeming his internal honour and the possibility of healthier relationships.

Hers bruised her idealism badly, but did not crush all she ever believed in; and she doesn’t break, she doesn’t succumb to the bitterness that poisons someone that has gone through so much loss, she adapts. She no longer dreams of handsome perfect knights and knows how constrictive ladyhood and a claim truly are; but still maintains her hopes about a love of her choosing, a home, a family and having a say in her destiny.

This is why even if there’s a good deal of loss of innocence imagery in other characters’ narratives in ASOIAF, Jaime Lannister and Sansa Stark are two of the best examples of the opposite outcomes of disillusionment about the same themes, and the effects loss of ideals can have on an individual. And as this story isn’t over, their progression has yet to continue.

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An interesting comparison, MoY.

Months ago, I started a thread called "Crackpot Comparisons", looking for various unusual pairs of characters to compare to each other.

I never would have thought to compare Jaime Lannister and Sansa Stark. But it works - I can see what you mean anout them.

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This is why even if there’s a good deal of loss of innocence imagery in other characters’ narratives in ASOIAF, Jaime Lannister and Sansa Stark are two of the best examples of the opposite outcomes of disillusionment about the same themes, and the effects loss of ideals can have on an individual. And as this story isn’t over, their progression has yet to continue.

Great essay Milady. I love the angle you chose to approach it from: loss of idealism, and highlighting Jaime's and Sansa's different ways of dealing and coping. And the similarities between the positive "mentors" in their lives - Brienne and Sandor- with their plain speech and assistance in critical moments, strengthens the connections you have made between the two. Ultimately, your essay goes a long way in elucidating just how resourceful and resilient Sansa has been throughout her ordeals. That she manages to incorporate and adapt to new realizations and experiences, while forming an outlook that challenges the restrictions to her personal autonomy, says a lot about her strength of character and why she's going to have as best a chance as anyone to foster genuine change.

Other highlights for me:

  • the Jaime/Sandor comparison - giving more life to the theory that these two will meet up.
  • Cersei's quote about her father not finding a better man. I did not remember that, but it's really interesting to compare with Ned's promise to Sansa.

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Milady, this is a monster of essay(in a good way really). So many thoughts, so many beautifully written lines and presented ideas. I honestly have to congratulate you and to express my admiration on such keen analysis.

I would like to say that Jaime and Sansa represent evolution in its full glory. They change, they abandon their dreams, and by facing the world and its image about themselves, find hout who they really are. Unlike so many who remains basically same, Jaime and Sansa changed in every way, except in that one crucial, essential way. Despite their change, both Jaime and Sansa still remain the best picture of themselves. Jaime, after everything, stays loyal to ideals he had about knighthood, and Sansa, despite torture and harshness of the world, remains the very same compassionate girl.

As Jaime continues his journey, he has a dream whilst resting on a weirwood stump, again after he goes to sleep hoping to dream of Cersei as in the previous one he had. This is a dream filled with rebirth imagery and foreshadowing, which requires longer and complex interpretations; but for the purpose of this analysis, the things that stand out are that he’s naked in front of the people he finds there, living and dead, and what they stand for. Nakedness in itself is common in dreams and too easy to interpret through lots of theoretical lenses, but this begs a particular angle of interpretation as he’s naked in the crypts of Casterly Rock, the place of his birth, and is accompanied by a woman who’s the only one to stay by his side and champion him

Jaime`s nakedness in his dreams for me represents him. Not Lannister, not Tywin`s son, or Cersei`s lover, not Kingsguard or Kingslayer. Him, just Jaime(It also reminds me of Harry Potter`s line when he meets Hagrid for the first time: I am Harry. Just Harry.) The reason why I separated this dream, is to connect it to another naked scene: Sansa being stripped by Kingsguard. As Jaime, Sansa too remains nothing more than just her in throne roon. She`s not Joffrey`s fiancee, or future Queen, she is not Stark of Winterfell or Princess in the North. Their nudeness exposed them. But, Jaime`s exposition comes from very deep place and has roots in his shattered dreams and ideals. Sansa`s on the other hand come form blunt disregard of her stature. Being Lannister or Stark, Princess or Knight, all of that doesn`t matter. What really matters who you really are. Sansa unlike never before faced her powerlessness against Joffrey, and Jaime faced his consciousness. These two ghosts would haunt both Sansa and Jaime in events that follow.

Milady, there are so many wonderful chapters, and I know I am doing it wrong to separate just one. But, we have time, and we`ll disect this thoroughly :). Again, I congratulate you on such profound essay.

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Thank you, Milady! Excellent analysis for the two characters. It gave me plenty to think about concerning Jaime, but below I’m just going to address the thoughts I had in regards to Sansa.

Sansa’s lack of connection and attempt at disassociation with her previous identity, but keeping her positive outlook, affects me the most on her rebuilding her worldview. She seems to be reorganizing her previous experiences and trying to reflect on the more positive aspects. I don’t see her torturing herself for the abuse she’s been through, nor suffering because of the untruths she has been fed.

Part of her positive outlook must come from her upbringing. Though her parents’ love was perhaps too great to allow her to see the world for its cruelty, she has received a ‘hard knocks’ education. Perhaps the other part of her positive outlook comes from having to accept and face her life on her own now. It’s her very lack of connection that makes her turn inward and do this inner reconstruction. Being forced to create a new identity (and “be Alayne all the time, inside and out” at the Gates of the Moon) I’m sure makes the assimilation process easier. Though it strikes me as tough luck not to have anyone to guide her other than Petyr Baelish, and even then, she must be cagey.

I wonder, though, if she can leave Sansa behind. Or even if that’s a good thing. And if she does, will she be able to ‘pick up’ Sansa again and incorporate her back into her identity? And where will all this leave her when she learns of Baelish’s treachery?

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I wonder, though, if she can leave Sansa behind. Or even if that’s a good thing. And if she does, will she be able to ‘pick up’ Sansa again and incorporate her back into her identity? And where will all this leave her when she learns of Baelish’s treachery?

I don't think it's a case where she's left Sansa behind; more like she's using Alayne to cater to a bolder, more self-assured manifestation of her true identity. So it's Sansa herself who's undergoing the transformation, even as she's immersed in being Alayne Stone. As for LF's treachery, she's already wary of him, and knows he's cunning and dangerous. Of course, she hasn't realized the full extent of his destruction, but with the continued quest for agency and confidence that Alayne inspires, she should be more than able to deal with it (and him) if/when she makes the discovery.

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OK, for my 900th post I prepared tonight something beautiful...

This time I would reffer to Milady`s Jaime/Sansa essay with another look to Greek mythology. I would reffer to myth about Nacissus. Poor Jaime, loved and envied by everyone he fall in love into not one, but two things he would never have. The first one is of course `his living image` in Cersei and other would be his spent honor. He falls in love in two things that ultimately become his doom. His love with Cersei alongside with his love for knighthood and glory led him to white cloak. And that cloak became a silk cord around his neck. It didn`t just destroyed Jaimes reputation, it also destroyed him. It was knighthood which made him kill Aerys, it was Cersei who made him throw Bran off the window. Jaime, just like Narcissus, becomes the victim of his love...

Sansa, on the other hand, fell in love also in beauty. Dazzled by Joffrey`s look and manners, she loved him to her ruin. And when golden lion became worst nightmare, Sansa was devastated and broken. But, unlike Jaime who was sinking deeper and deeper, Sansa endured...Just like Winterfell and Bran, she endured...Every hit made her stronger, every pain more resillient...Sansa didn`t surrender herself to lost love and grief over it.

Their blessings were their worst curse. Both Sansa and Jaime faced tragic love and survived. Cersei`s and Joffrey`s shadow over them are gone, and they are free. Unlike tragic Narcissus, they are free...Free to be better people, and free to love.

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Milady these essays were brilliant as usual! I have to think on them a little more but just wanted to comment on this for the time being:

The tragedy in this scene is that the savagery of war has depleted the pool where Sansa’s favourite romance originated of boys and girls bathing and laughing mirthfully in there, and filled it with corpses, many corpses rotting in it and poisoning the waters. If Martin didn’t intend to use Jaime’s sarcastic singing to get across his point on the horrors of war and the death of innocence, he could’ve taken advantage of any other occasion to have someone singing at least half a verse from any of the songs based on a legend various characters mention, but only Jaime is the one who sings, and precisely here and now.
I think this is so insightful and again makes me wonder at the grand master plan GRRM has in mind for this story as I had never associated Jaime with songs at all while on the other hand had associated Sansa very much with songs. This saga is called a song of ice and fire, and once again we see this idea of the song connecting characters and themes. I knew their stories were similar in that they both represent a version of beauty and the beast, but I never connected the characters through song but this really does show another tie between them. Jaime's story has really become about Sansa and I do think it is leading towards the two of them meeting up somehow and possibly joining forces. I love the irony of this coming full circle as Jaime was the first Lannister Sansa comes to hate (after Jory is killed and Ned injured) but it looks like he will be the one Lannister who eventually helps her in the end.

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Amazing essay Milady. The disillusionment parallels are really clear put like this.

Jaime's story has really become about Sansa and I do think it is leading towards the two of them meeting up somehow and possibly joining forces. I love the irony of this coming full circle as Jaime was the first Lannister Sansa comes to hate (after Jory is killed and Ned injured) but it looks like he will be the one Lannister who eventually helps her in the end.

That is certainly an interesting twist. The Lannister most feared at the beginning may be the one who ends up giving them a helping hand. Interestingly, Ned feared Jaime and the Hound most of all out of the Lannister camp, but these two have both proven that their allegiances may not be as clear cut.

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Milday, it was insightful, informative, thought provoking, and a delight to read.

In the Tyrion reread Blisscraft just commented on how she loves Martin's stories within the story, a love I suspect most of us share. In the case of Jaime and Sansa the songs of Florian/Jonquil and Aemon/Naerys connect these two thematically through the story's own internal mythology-- a connection whose importance is emphasized by this saga itself being a song as Elba notes. Connecting them through this internal mythology suggests something quite intentional on Martin's behalf.

I too am intrigued by the Jaime/Sandor parallels you point out. They were both "broken men" and it seems that one member of each Beauty and the Beast story has visited the Quiet Isle where Broken Men are healed. Cersei and Tyrion both chose a claim over love to contrast with Jaime and Sansa who value love over their claims. Jaime first chose love for Cersei over Casterly Rock, but then chose duty/honor over Casterly Rock when offered an out from the KG by Tywin. I wonder what this might imply for Sansa. She hasn't been given much of a choice in anything yet but we're left off with LF confronting her with a similar choice in his HtH plan. There may be a comparison to be made between Jaime/Tommen and Sansa/Sweetrobin playing out as well. Jaime was fostering Tommen on his own terms despite turning down Tywin's plan to officialy foster him.

I'm also struck by Sansa's dutiful attitude in her marriage to Tyrion compared to Jaime's history with the KG. The KG vows preclude love where marriage vows are supposed to be about love. Jaime willingly took a loveless vow to have love and Sansa unwillingly took a vow of love knowing she would find none. Both sets of vows were really about being hostages. Jaime's agency in his own fate stands out compared to Sansa. I'm inclined to say that Sansa was more dutiful but I'm not sure. Jaime did all that was expected of him up until he killed Aerys. Sansa was the perfect dutiful wife right up until she fled. Both willingly and reluctantly fulfilled their roles right up until the death of a King. The difference that stands out most is Jaime having and making choices compared to Sansa whose only choice was to flee.

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I too am intrigued by the Jaime/Sandor parallels you point out. They were both "broken men" and it seems that one member of each Beauty and the Beast story has visited the Quiet Isle where Broken Men are healed. Cersei and Tyrion both chose a claim over love to contrast with Jaime and Sansa who value love over their claims. Jaime first chose love for Cersei over Casterly Rock, but then chose duty/honor over Casterly Rock when offered an out from the KG by Tywin. I wonder what this might imply for Sansa. She hasn't been given much of a choice in anything yet but we're left off with LF confronting her with a similar choice in his HtH plan. There may be a comparison to be made between Jaime/Tommen and Sansa/Sweetrobin playing out as well. Jaime was fostering Tommen on his own terms despite turning down Tywin's plan to officialy foster him.

And both Sansa and Jaime were arguably responsible for leading their Beauty and the Beast counterparts to the Isle for whatever redemption/revelation was to be found there. With Brienne's last words to Jaime in ADWD about the Hound having Sansa, it feels as though Martin is beginning to close the circle and bring these thematic connections to a climax. I love your point about Jaime rejecting for a second time the offer of Casterly Rock out of duty/honour, and the relevance it holds for a comparison with Sansa's own situation in the Vale. I think those feelings of duty and personal responsibility are precisely what Sansa holds in relation to Sweetrobin, and she will likely reject LF's terms for Winterfell in order to protect the boy, and her own emerging agency. This of course brings us full circle to Ned's own willingness to foster SR during the conversation with Robert in the crypts, when he spoke of not caring about Lannister pride.

I'm also struck by Sansa's dutiful attitude in her marriage to Tyrion compared to Jaime's history with the KG. The KG vows preclude love where marriage vows are supposed to be about love. Jaime willingly took a loveless vow to have love and Sansa unwillingly took a vow of love knowing she would find none. Both sets of vows were really about being hostages. Jaime's agency in his own fate stands out compared to Sansa. I'm inclined to say that Sansa was more dutiful but I'm not sure. Jaime did all that was expected of him up until he killed Aerys. Sansa was the perfect dutiful wife right up until she fled. Both willingly and reluctantly fulfilled their roles right up until the death of a King. The difference that stands out most is Jaime having and making choices compared to Sansa whose only choice was to flee.

I would argue that Sansa, like Jaime, was not very dutiful when it came to the vows she took. On the surface, it certainly appeared that way, and they both had to suffer some harsh realities during that "service" but they were each unfaithful right from the start. As you note, Jaime took a loveless vow to find love, and Sansa, even though she had no illusions to begin with about the state of her marriage, did in effect "break" the vows she took in defiance of her loveless marriage. Killing Aerys and fleeing her marriage were only the public signs to the outside world of what had been a slowly building, very private rebellion.

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Just a shout out to the Dunk and Egg stories. There are similar motifs throughout that serve to illuminate moments in the book series. Familiar references to Florian and Jonquil and "true knights", and similar language to suggest sexuality (often in very funny ways) throughout. One thing I'm looking forward to is hearing more about Florian and Jonquil, and I think we will as the love stories unfold in the book series.

I touched on some "true knight" and Florian and Jonquil moments here, tying the books to the Dunk and Egg stories, with some quotes:

http://asoiaf.wester...00#entry3864692

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Just a shout out to the Dunk and Egg stories. There are similar motifs throughout that serve to illuminate moments in the book series. Familiar references to Florian and Jonquil and "true knights", and similar language to suggest sexuality (often in very funny ways) throughout. One thing I'm looking forward to is hearing more about Florian and Jonquil, and I think we will as the love stories unfold in the book series.

I touched on some "true knight" and Florian and Jonquil moments here, tying the books to the Dunk and Egg stories, with some quotes:

http://asoiaf.wester...00#entry3864692

Those are great Le Cygne. I had forgotten that Tyrion mocks Jorah with Florian and Jonquil. I recalled the ones in Sansa's and Jaime's arc. It's interesting too that Florian and Jonquil often follow the beauty/beast theme, as Jorah represents a type of beast to Dany's beauty.

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<snip>

I would argue that Sansa, like Jaime, was not very dutiful when it came to the vows she took. On the surface, it certainly appeared that way, and they both had to suffer some harsh realities during that "service" but they were each unfaithful right from the start. As you note, Jaime took a loveless vow to find love, and Sansa, even though she had no illusions to begin with about the state of her marriage, did in effect "break" the vows she took in defiance of her loveless marriage. Killing Aerys and fleeing her marriage were only the public signs to the outside world of what had been a slowly building, very private rebellion.

I've been turning this over in my head trying to see the best way to look at it. I agree with your sentiment but I'm hung up on duty as something that's only tested when it is something you don't want to do. Jaime was given a cloak and expected to be with Cersei. Sansa was given a dress and expected to be with Willas (the wedding cloak may be a better symbol?) In some ways the cloak/vows is the first step in Jaime's disillusionment and the last step in Sansa's. Both break faith with their vows with the death of a king. Jaime does his duty under Aerys in a very similar way to Sansa doing her duty in her marriage to Tyrion, but I don't think that holds up while Jaime serves under Robert. Fleeing from Tyrion and KL is hardly dutiful but she still considers the herself bound by the vow as she tells Littlefinger that she is still married. Littlefinger's offer to Sansa of Winterfell and a marriage is close to Tywin's offer to Jaime of Casterly Rock and a marriage. Both respond that they are bound by vows though we don't know how Sansa's story proceeds from there like we do with Jaime's.

Laying it out like that it seems that they are far more similar if we ignore Jaime's disillusioned period between Aerys death and Brienne. The real difference is that Jaime lost himself under his vows to Aerys and Sansa did not. I still get the sense that there's something meaningful in the vows comparison that I'm missing. I also like and agree with your thoughts on Sweetrobin

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Milady, that was an amazing essay.

Sorry and I don't mean to derail but in the recent Arya chapter we are doing for the Arya re-read (which will be up this evening) I notice an interesting thing that maybe a nod to Sansa and Sandor.

Tom O'Sevens is singing when he first approaches Arya and Gendry and Hot Pie. The song is sung but split up between Arya's thought. We only hear a few lines, but they are as follows:

"Off to Gulltown to see the fair maid, heigh-ho, heigh-ho..."

"I'll steal a sweet kiss with the point of my blade, heigh-ho, heigh-ho."

"I'll make her my love and we'll rest in the shade, heigh-ho, heigh-ho.

That's all we hear of the song, but the next one begun by Hot Pie in the same chapter is The Bear and the Maiden Fair.

At the moment Alyane is a girl who has grown up in a mother house in Gulltown and is imagining a kiss taken at knife point from Sandor. Then we have a possible foreshadowing line and a song, The Bear and the Maiden Fair, that is sung in Sansa's presence earlier during the same book.

Edit: Oh dear lord. It is a strange coincidence, but the only other time the song is mentioned is by Dunk in the Hedge Knight....as he digs a grave. The whole quote below:

"the old song about going to Gulltown to see a fairmaid, but instead of Gulltown he'd sung of Ashford. Off to Ashford to see the fair maid, heigh-ho, heigh-ho, Dunk thought miserably as he dug. "

So thinking about the fair maid as he dug eh? Wonder if one of his possible decendents is doing the same thing :cool4:

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I would argue that Sansa, like Jaime, was not very dutiful when it came to the vows she took. On the surface, it certainly appeared that way, and they both had to suffer some harsh realities during that "service" but they were each unfaithful right from the start. As you note, Jaime took a loveless vow to find love, and Sansa, even though she had no illusions to begin with about the state of her marriage, did in effect "break" the vows she took in defiance of her loveless marriage. Killing Aerys and fleeing her marriage were only the public signs to the outside world of what had been a slowly building, very private rebellion.

I agree with this. Sansa, just like Jaime in the years after killing Aerys, remained dutiful, but it wasn`t quite the truth. She rejected the notion of being married to Tyrion, she broke every vow of that marriage, she kept secrets from him. Basically, her duties was just surviving. Just like Jaime wore that white cloak around his neck, Sansa is a Lannistar (in Tv show Season 3 she`ll wear particularly Lannister-like ring). So, neither Jaime was a true knight of the Kingsguard after Aerys`s killing, nor Sansa is a true Lannister after marrying to Tyrion.

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