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Milady of York

From Pawn to Player: Rethinking Sansa XIX

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What concerns me is that there has been very little attempt to place such speculations within the context of what we know about Sansa herself; very little attempt to cite evidence which would support such narrative developments; a reliance on uncritical sources of knowledge, and finally a continuation of the troubling implication that Sansa exists to be “acted upon” in the ASOIAF world.

We often hear that this is Martin’s creation and that he can do anything he wants, but this ignores the literary imperative of internal consistency, which requires there to be narrative coherence where the writer follows a consistent pattern within the parameters of the story. It’s one of the reasons why Jon’s stabbing can be controversial, but no one expects that he’s really dead.

(along with her serious reluctance to have him “come into her castle” in the snow Winterfell scene), but mostly due to the fact that we believe Sansa will ultimately defy LF, and his unwanted gestures, developing into a capable player with both offensive and defensive strategies at her disposal.

A few things, there has been some guesswork done using the text. For example, having Sansa state that Lord Baelish would have the final word on whether Sweet Robin would have more sweet milk or not and her thought that the maester was focused on Sweet Robin's health while she and her father had other concerns is most likely fueling the idea that she might assist somehow in Sweet Robins's death, something that would indeed be controversial.

Regarding Jon's assassination, this is a perfect example of how Martin can pull the rug from under us. While there was definite tension building among the brothers, nothing that was written before hand could foreshadow the controversial action of his murder attempt. Just as nothing written before Catelyn arrested Tyrion could have foreshadowed that controversial action. So while I appreciate the effort of trying to figure out what will happen to Sansa on a micro level from the text alone, it is impossible to predict what Martin's "surprise" will be or it wouldn't be Martin. So it makes sense to assume, there are many possibilities open to her. That said, I feel the one possibility that is not open is a forced sexual act. Sansa has faced this too many times to have that happen now. Besides, that is not controversial.

Finally, Sansa is wary and tells Petyr to "be gentle" when he asks can he come inside her castle. While I do not believe that means she will invite such an act, the scene does not show "her serious reluctance to have him come into her castle”. That we readers have deduced from other scenes.

I believe what Martin hopes to do with Sansa on a micro level is to have her do something questionable before she rights herself. That will be the controversy. Every Stark has faced it so I don't see why Sansa would get a reprieve. But I agree the macro end point for Sansa will be a place of some agency.

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I don't know, Woman of War. While I do agree that GRRM is playing with the idea of a dark Sansa, he also sets up symbolic minders for the readers that give a more optimistic view of her inner life. The dog, the drifting snow, the howling wolf, etc.seem to point in a more hopeful direction for her sense of her identity and morality which are interconnected issues in my mind. Again, I hope I'm making sense.

I believe this is meant to show us that she is finding strength and connections to her winter and wolf roots. That she is finding more beauty and comfort in these things than before. I don't see this as necessarily her morality since the Starks have had their darkness and ruthlessness, too.

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A few things, there has been some guesswork done using the text. For example, having Sansa state that Lord Baelish would have the final word on whether Sweet Robin would have more sweet milk or not and her thought that the maester was focused on Sweet Robin's health while she and her father had other concerns is most likely fueling the idea that she might assist somehow in Sweet Robins's death, something that would indeed be controversial.

I agree that it is fueling those assumptions, but I think it's a giant leap to make (which is not supported by what we know of Sansa's character) to claim she'd knowingly assist in Sweetrobin's death. Even if Sansa felt that the boy was a lost cause before they descended the Eyrie, SR showed that he's capable of summoning some kind of bravery with the right encouragement. I think that was important for Sansa to see, and could very well impact her decisions going forward.

That said, I feel the one possibility that is not open is a forced sexual act. Sansa has faced this too many times to have that happen now. Besides, that is not controversial.

It would be incredibly controversial, but given Ran's qualification and the other reasons I explained above, I think that's something that can be definitely ruled out.

Finally, Sansa is wary and tells Petyr to "be gentle" when he asks can he come inside her castle. While I do not believe that means she will invite such an act, the scene does not show "her serious reluctance to have him come into her castle”. That we readers have deduced from other scenes.

It's actually Petyr who says "gentle". Here's the scene:

"That will give it strength to stand, I'd think," Petyr said. "May I come into your castle, my lady."

Sansa was wary. "Don't break it. Be ...."

"... gentle?" He smiled.

The definition of wary is to be alert, on one's guard against danger, vigilant. She also tells him "not to break it," which is a direct refusal in the context of this sexual innuendo. I'd say that counts as serious reluctance, especially for someone of Sansa's temperament and how subtly Martin writes her reactions.

I believe what Martin hopes to do with Sansa on a micro level is to have her do something questionable before she rights herself. That will be the controversy. Every Stark has faced it so I don't see why Sansa would get a reprieve. But I agree the macro end point for Sansa will be a place of some agency.

I think this idea of darkening is perhaps overly simplistic, and needs to be understood carefully within the narrative of each Stark child. Can we expect that Martin will continue to show the Starks having to make hard decisions and choices, some of which might be morally/ethically dubious? Yes, I think so, but some readers just assume that Sansa must be darkened, or have something terrible happen to her because it's how Martin does things and Sansa can't continue to have her hands clean. My point is that whatever decision is made has to fit credibly within the framework of her story, and that so far Sansa is the one Stark who is distinguished by her incredible compassion and empathy towards others. I think this has to matter whenever we discuss whatever may play out going forward.

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I made another post in the Snow Castle thread. Anyone have thoughts on the symbolic meaning of bells in Sansa, especially Sansa V in Storm when she flees the Purple Wedding?

I can´t recall right where but I believe that some PoV (or maybe the show, right now I have mix up everything) said that at Sansa´s birth the bells rang all day.

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In this occasion, however, there is a subtler secondary motif in the ringing of bells, because they mark Sansa’s sexual awakening: she is having her first moonblood as specified in her earlier response to Cersei’s questions at the Ballroom, and it’s the night she created the UnKiss after her encounter with Sandor and spending an unspecified amount of time curled under the discarded Kingsguard cloak, suggesting that being able to choose her mate is key to possessing autonomy.

I loved it Milady :) And the final bit is something we've noted in the past: that Sansa's sexual autonomy is integral to her overall quest for agency, and when you look at her experience with Tyrion on their wedding night for example, it can be argued that it's the reality of her complete lack of desire that sparks her understanding of the way women are compromised within society, and fuels her determination to escape these constraints. It's the reason why claims that Sansa's maidenhood is being saved for a political marriage are so wide of the mark and really miss what is happening as she matures.

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I can´t recall right where but I believe that some PoV (or maybe the show, right now I have mix up everything) said that at Sansa´s birth the bells rang all day.

The show, I think. A line from the Red Dread, Ros!

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I think this idea of darkening is perhaps overly simplistic, and needs to be understood carefully within the narrative of each Stark child. Can we expect that Martin will continue to show the Starks having to make hard decisions and choices, some of which might be morally/ethically dubious? Yes, I think so, but some readers just assume that Sansa must be darkened, or have something terrible happen to her because it's how Martin does things and Sansa can't continue to have her hands clean. My point is that whatever decision is made has to fit credibly within the framework of her story, and that so far Sansa is the one Stark who is distinguished by her incredible compassion and empathy towards others. I think this has to matter whenever we discuss whatever may play out going forward.

I agree, and I'm also wary of the idea of 'darkening' Sansa by having her do something 'questionable' because, in the eyes of very many readers, Sansa has already made a number of questionable decisions in Game. While I think the extent of Sansa's culpability in these situations is usually exaggerated, I'm not sure that GRRM does, given his comments about how Sansa still hasn't faced the consequences for telling Cersei of Ned's plans (I'm paraphrasing here, so may have this wrong, but I do remember reading something of the kind). Rather than having all the Stark children's situations mirror each other exactly - which would be dull - I feel a better narrative choice would be for Sansa to flirt with danger and come close to immoral decisions such as knowingly assisting in Sweetrobin's murder, but to have the skills and intelligence to do the right thing without dropping herself in it like Ned. This is also more in keeping with her character, as you say.

To digress slightly, it has occurred to me that, given the strong similarities between Ned and Sansa, it would be satisfying if Sansa managed to out-manoevure LF when Ned was unable to, preserving his virtues of honour and compassion, but not making the situation worse by being over-naive. I am re-reading Game at the moment, and this line, in Ned's final chapter, struck me as drawing a parallel to Sansa's snow castle:

He made plans to keep himself sane, built castles of hope in the dark

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I agree, and I'm also wary of the idea of 'darkening' Sansa by having her do something 'questionable' because, in the eyes of very many readers, Sansa has already made a number of questionable decisions in Game. While I think the extent of Sansa's culpability in these situations is usually exaggerated, I'm not sure that GRRM does, given his comments about how Sansa still hasn't faced the consequences for telling Cersei of Ned's plans (I'm paraphrasing here, so may have this wrong, but I do remember reading something of the kind).

Hmmm this does raise a particular point. LF tells Sansa she doesn't want anymore blood on her hands. I wonder if LF will tell her that it was because of her going to Cersei that her father was captured as a way of manipulating her into not disobeying his orders, something along the lines of, remember the last time you disobeyed your father it cost him his head. If Sansa then takes all the guilt upon herself, it would be controversial as you would get a lot of hellish poster screeching about how finally Sansa accepts responsibility for her actions and (like using Cersei's ridiculous comment to Tyrion) using it to further propagate the nonsense that somehow Sansa was responsible for Ned's death. When what she actually did was get herself and nearly Arya trapped in KL and ensured the death of the men in the boat who would have taken them back to Winterfell. That would certainly be controversial and if LF uses that guilt to make her help with poisoning SR, or to further seduce her, that would be very controversial.

Ned's final chapter, struck me as drawing a parallel to Sansa's snow castle:

Yet another great parallel between Sansa and Ned.

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If Sansa then takes all the guilt upon herself, it would be controversial as you would get a lot of hellish poster screeching about how finally Sansa accepts responsibility for her actions and (like using Cersei's ridiculous comment to Tyrion) using it to further propagate the nonsense that somehow Sansa was responsible for Ned's death. When what she actually did was get herself and nearly Arya trapped in KL and ensured the death of the men in the boat who would have taken them back to Winterfell.

And yet it is precisely because she got herself and nearly Arya trapped in KL that Ned confessed to treason giving Joff the opportunity to kill him. It is unclear if Joff would have just been able to kill Ned without the confession.

“So what is your answer, Lord Eddard? Give me your word that you’ll tell the queen what she wants to hear when she comes calling.”

“If I did, my word would be as hollow as an empty suit of armor. My life is not so precious to me as that.”

“Pity.” The eunuch stood. “And your daughter’s life, my lord? How precious is that?”

A chill pierced Ned’s heart. “My daughter . . . ”

“Surely you did not think I’d forgotten about your sweet innocent, my lord? The queen most certainly has not.”

“No,” Ned pleaded, his voice cracking. “Varys, gods have mercy, do as you like with me, but leave my daughter out of your schemes. Sansa’s no more than a child.”

The next visitor who calls on you could bring you bread and cheese and the milk of the poppy for your pain . . . or he could bring you Sansa’s head.

“The choice, my dear lord Hand, is entirely yours.”

Still I don't think Littlefinger will try this tactic with Sansa because it might cause her to investigate more about her father's death and she could find out about his double crossing Ned in the throne room, something that must be known to many. It would not be wise for Littlefinger to go there but I don't doubt that he is looking for something to use in manipulating her other than the fact that she has no where else to go.

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Milady, loved the post! hadn't caught the way bells are tolling when sansa's imprisonment in KL begin and end and then start sounding again when she meets LF aboard the Merlin King. hopefully by the end of her story bells could be heard representing her new life, one which is a future she choose for herself?

& Daphne23,

To digress slightly, it has occurred to me that, given the strong similarities between Ned and Sansa, it would be satisfying if Sansa managed to out-manoevure LF when Ned was unable to, preserving his virtues of honour and compassion, but not making the situation worse by being over-naive. I am re-reading Game at the moment, and this line, in Ned's final chapter, struck me as drawing a parallel to Sansa's snow castle:

I think i like this :)

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Ser Pounce FTW, I think this is only a possible scenario if Varys wanted the girls to escape, since Cersei allready knew that Ned was going to move against her, from his warning, and she surely would have inquired every source and especially the Master of Whisperers about the Ned´s plans. Of course Sansa would feel responsible just the same, since only Cersei (and probably Varys) know about this warning of Ned´s.

I agree that Littlefinger most likely will not use this. I guess his plan is to continue making Sansa an accomplice in his crimes to corrupt her until she sees no way back.

Sansa has been absolutely isolated since they took Jeyne Pool away, there was no one she could trust and confide in. Her hopes in the Tyrells have been disapointed before she truly came to trust them, which was probably for the better, even though her Florian turned out to be a worse man´s fool. Btw. Jonquil is called Osterglocke (easterbell) in colloquial german, otherwise Narzisse (narcissus).

I fear that Martin had Faulkner´s novel Sanctuary and the character Narcissa in mind when he chose the name Jonquil.

In the novel, Narcissa´s allegiance to her brother is corrupted by the pressures of high-class society. Sansa is not Narcissa, but Narcissa might have been a part of Sansa when she still dreamed of becoming queen. I think every teenager should be allowed these dreams as long as they realise that there is more to care for as they grow up.

"Jaime told me how you found him on the Iron Throne the day King's Landing fell, and made him yield it up. That was your moment. All you needed to do was climb those steps, and sit. Such a sad mistake."

"I have made more mistakes than you can possibly imagine," Ned said, "but that was not one of them."

Daphne 23, "hope in the dark", very nice. I always felt the snow castle represented Sansa´s isolation, just as in the Simon and Garfunkel

, only that it was forced upon her, but of course it also represents most of what everyone in Sansa´s situation would hope for - family, friends, love and security.

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Ser Pounce FTW, I think this is only a possible scenario if Varys wanted the girls to escape, since Cersei allready knew that Ned was going to move against her, from his warning, and she surely would have inquired every source and especially the Master of Whisperers about the Ned´s plans. Of course Sansa would feel responsible just the same, since only Cersei (and probably Varys) know about this warning of Ned´s.

Cersei would have been inquiring however she doesn't know yet. It is from Sansa that she gets the information and only hours before she is meant to sail, not any other source. What's more, as a result of Sansa going to Cersei, the queen has her literally in her hands and Sansa is immediately imprisoned after asking for the queen's help. Varys wasn't talking about escape but rather what Cersei would have done to the girls in order to force Ned to do her bidding. In fact, if Robb hadn't captured Jaime, Sansa's fate would have probably been a great deal worse.

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Speaking of Florian and Jonquil, has anyone made a study so far of the Middle English romances that were the possible sources of this particular song. Not talking about the excellent Mahaut essays on courtly love but something more specific like Floris and Blauncheflour, maybe Syr Tryamowre, the Earl of Tolouse, Guy of Warwick, Ipomadon, possibly Octavian, etc. (I have an anthology, okay) The title of the song is most certainly inspired by the first [Floris=of flowers, Blauncheflour=white flower, Jonquil is a yellow flower, I think] and specific elements from the medieval lays, like the fool, dog, non-knight champions, talking birds, giants who are champions of the villains are only some that I've found.

Btw, did you know that the meaning of Alexander is to ward off, keep off, turn away, defend, protect? Milady probably wrote a essay on that already and I missed it. Darn!

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And yet it is precisely because she got herself and nearly Arya trapped in KL that Ned confessed to treason giving Joff the opportunity to kill him. It is unclear if Joff would have just been able to kill Ned without the confession.

Errh Ned is to blame for the lion's share of "getting himself trapped" in Kings Landing. Sansa provided Cersei with information to make it easier, certainly, but do you really honestly believe that Littlefinger would have let Sansa slip out of his grasp? I find that scenario to be extremely unlikely, given that LF was behind Ned's beheading and also asked Cersei for Sansa's hand in marriage just after that. LF mislead Cat twice and he lead Ned along on a merry chase, but once he had his sights on Sansa, Cat and Ned were cannon fodder for LF. Ned played straight into his hands by confessing that he knew about the incest to Cersei and then "doing the right thing" leaving Cersei time to act. And of course, Littlefinger too.

Cersei would have been inquiring however she doesn't know yet. It is from Sansa that she gets the information and only hours before she is meant to sail, not any other source. What's more, as a result of Sansa going to Cersei, the queen has her literally in her hands and Sansa is immediately imprisoned after asking for the queen's help. Varys wasn't talking about escape but rather what Cersei would have done to the girls in order to force Ned to do her bidding. In fact, if Robb hadn't captured Jaime, Sansa's fate would have probably been a great deal worse.

Very doubtful. Sansa would still be a highborn hostage. Remember too that Cersei wanted Ned to take the black, she did NOT want him dead. And Sansa's fate as a highborn hostage was bad enough to raise eyebrows in lots of places. Ser Arys Oakheart felt his beating of Sansa was bad enough to trigger his later betrayal in Dorne. He felt that his honour as a knight was completely soiled already. The Tyrells were similarly bothered, bothered enough to have Joffrey killed. Sansa's treatment was certainly not par for the course.

Also, Cersei gets the information from Sansa, but Cersei is small fry compared to Varys and LF, who are the behind the scenes movers and shakers. As we know from AFFC, Cersei is actually quite bad at playing the Game. She did manage to outplay Ned here, but then so would anyone with half a brain.

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Errh Ned is to blame for the lion's share of "getting himself trapped" in Kings Landing. Sansa provided Cersei with information to make it easier, certainly, but do you really honestly believe that Littlefinger would have let Sansa slip out of his grasp? I find that scenario to be extremely unlikely, given that LF was behind Ned's beheading and also asked Cersei for Sansa's hand in marriage just after that. LF mislead Cat twice and he lead Ned along on a merry chase, but once he had his sights on Sansa, Cat and Ned were cannon fodder for LF. Ned played straight into his hands by confessing that he knew about the incest to Cersei and then "doing the right thing" leaving Cersei time to act. And of course, Littlefinger too.

She did manage to outplay Ned here, but then so would anyone with half a brain.

And yet that is stated in the text and by the author so as unlikely as you may find it, it is how things played out. After looking at the timeline, things really moved very quickly. We may find out in later books that Varys and/or LF knew about Ned's plans but as of now, there is nothing, absolutely nothing that points to anyone knowing that Ned was planning to send his children away and so soon. Why should they? Ned played his hand that he knew about the incest and that he was going to tell Robert. No one had any idea that Cersei was already actively trying to kill Robert even before Ned ever approached her. It was completely chance that he finally had an "accident" hunting.

As for your half a brain comment, ouch. I will never fault Ned for showing mercy to children. Cersei has shown that she has no such inclinations but that hardly makes her clever, only more ruthless. But yes, Ned should have been more aware of the traits of the people he was dealing with.

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Stated in the text? Yes by Cersei when she is lying to Tyrion. Not an unbiased pov.

Plus your feelings on the matter really should be in a thread that is not dedicated to serious analysis as they are old news and have been rehashed a hundred times already. And not anywhere near serious analysis.

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Stated in the text? Yes by Cersei when she is lying to Tyrion. Not an unbiased pov.

Plus your feelings on the matter really should be in a thread that is not dedicated to serious analysis as they are old news and have been rehashed a hundred times already. And not anywhere near serious analysis.

Actually no, it's stated in Sansa's chapter and not by a speaking person so it is unbiased.

So she went to the queen instead, and poured out her heart, and Cersei had listened and thanked her sweetly . . . only then Ser Arys had escorted her to the high room in Maegor's Holdfast and posted guards, and a few hours later, the fighting had begun outside.

No guards before she went to the queen and no fighting. Those aren't my feelings at all, just the text. My feelings are Sansa had no idea how this would play out but no one can deny how they did play out. Well, perhaps some people can deny this.

In any case, I am merely responding to a post about what Sansa has and hasn't done. How one chooses to interpret the author's words is their prerogative. By all means, please continue with the serious analysis. It is very interesting.

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Actually no, it's stated in Sansa's chapter and not by a speaking person so it is unbiased.

So she went to the queen instead, and poured out her heart, and Cersei had listened and thanked her sweetly . . . only then Ser Arys had escorted her to the high room in Maegor's Holdfast and posted guards, and a few hours later, the fighting had begun outside.

All Sansa says there is that she poured her heart out: likely to do with how much she loved Joffrey and wanted to stay. She was not privy to any sensitive information. What Lyanna Stark is referring to is the conversation between Cersei and Tyrion where she blames Sansa for revealing all her father's plans because she doesn't want to admit to the incest and the ultimatum she was given.

Anyways, yes, old argument is a very old argument :) We don't mind discussing such things sometimes, but really, what's the point? If it's to claim that Sansa is somehow responsible for her father's death then it can stop right there. She was an innocent with no idea of the shit heap that was building in KL. These conversations are also rarely ever productive past a point, and this thread is all about fostering productive discussions.

In any case, I am merely responding to a post about what Sansa has and hasn't done. How one chooses to interpret the author's words is their prerogative. By all means, please continue with the serious analysis. It is very interesting.

Great. I do hope you'll stick around and add your voice to such.

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Aand yet that is stated in theuntand by the author so as unlikely as you may find it, it is how things played out. After looking at the timeline, things really moved very quickly. We may find out in later books that Varys and/or LF knew about Ned's plans but as of now, there is nothing, absolutely nothing that points to anyone knowing that Ned was planning to send his children away and so soon. Why should they? Ned played his hand that he knew about the incest and that he was going to tell Robert. No one had any idea that Cersei was already actively trying to kill Robert even before Ned ever approached her. It was completely chance that he finally had an "accident" hunting.

Just to clarify, it was easy to guess that Cersei was trying to kill Robert before Ned ever approached her, as you say. Cersei goaded Robert to fight in the tourney of the Hand and Ned thought, 'Other men might reconsider words spoken in drunken bravado, but Robert Baratheon would remember and, remembering, would never back down.'

I have to confess though that I used to think that Sansa and Arya were to blame for Lady's death, and Sansa for getting caught, and Ned for telling Cersei until I realised that I could blame Bran for disobeying his mother at the beginning. This is less about who did what and what they should have done than about needing to understand how each character is individually motivated and about intentions.

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