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Milady of York

From Pawn to Player: Rethinking Sansa XIX

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Brillaint brilliant research for that essay of yours Ragnorak!! Really enjoyed it cause i knew little of Perceval and/or the Fisher King (:

and Le Cygne, that post of yours of Sansa thinking of Sandor all the time killed me *sighs* (:

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Indeed. I think this is why Martin has Sansa wish that Dontos had some of the Hound's ferocity. As much as she wants his rage to be gentled, she's not asking for a full on transformation - as evidenced by her later dreams and thoughts. It's also why the penchant for pairing Sansa with any "nice guy" and assuming she'd be happy is so misplaced.

Bumping this because it is time. :) Also, since the search function has been turned off and I use four different computers and a smart phone and can't remember to bookmark it on all devices, I need it near the top!

Was going to comment on this as well that Tze's analysis of Beauty and the Beast inversion and the repercussions of Sansa being a warg is very interesting in this regard and that Sansa paired with a random "nice guy" would make her happy.

While Sansa's warg skills may be weaker than Jon's, Arya's or Bran's, she is still a warg and still contains that "beast" within her. Lady may have been the nicest and calmest of the direwolves, but she was definitely still a direwolf.

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Bumping this because it is time. :) Also, since the search function has been turned off and I use four different computers and a smart phone and can't remember to bookmark it on all devices, I need it near the top!

Was going to comment on this as well that Tze's analysis of Beauty and the Beast inversion and the repercussions of Sansa being a warg is very interesting in this regard and that Sansa paired with a random "nice guy" would make her happy.

While Sansa's warg skills may be weaker than Jon's, Arya's or Bran's, she is still a warg and still contains that "beast" within her. Lady may have been the nicest and calmest of the direwolves, but she was definitely still a direwolf.

It's only been three days sense someone last posted. Bookmark it already.

Lady could sniff out the truth that is what she was good at, Sansa mentions this in Kings I believe, she always new when someone lied.

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Well that sniff out the truth I see more as she is giving to Lady a Sandor quality: "a dog can sniff lies" (more or less the mark).

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Well that sniff out the truth I see more as she is giving to Lady a Sandor quality: "a dog can sniff lies" (more or less the mark).

Wives tale, dogs can't sniff out lies. I just told my dog I hated her and she was stinky. She really is stinky. She licked my nose. Dogs pick up on tension, heart rates etc... Sansas thought of Lady sniffing out falsehoods happens in the gods wood when she first speaks to Dontos. She does not run into the hound till after that and it's not till the end of the chapter hound makes the comment about Dogs. Maybe she is a precog. Rethinking Sansa XX, you heard it hear first.

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Of course dogs sense our feelings: sadness, fear, etc. And sure I need a reread again because I had forgey that Sansa thought about lies and smelling and Lady before going to the Godswood.

About Rethinking Sansa XX: I haven't been reading it this last months.

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Great essay Ragnorak. Very interesting and I think you made a case for Sandor as Parsival very well. I was wondering though about the role of Sandor's trial with the Brotherhood and the fight with Beric, as I find that to be a very significant moment in Sandor's journey. When you got to the description of the Fisher King, I immediately thought of Beric in that role, especially given that he is neither living nor dead as you described. His many wounds were inflicted when he was sent forth to protect the lands and the people of the Riverlands are clearly very vested in his well being as we saw with the tree people Arya comes across when she is being taken to Beric. From this I also see an element of how as the Fisher King suffers, so does the land. Finally, thinking about the question that Parsival is supposed to ask, whom does the grail serve, got me thinking about a question that I think is really the defining question for Sandor, and that is, who does he serve? The analysis of Sandor's trial that Milady did for the Arya reread is the culmination of that dilemma. Before the actual duel with Beric, the Brotherhood is flinging all sorts of accusations to him about atrocities done to the Riverlands and the people who live there. Sandor points out that he has done none of those things himself, though the fact remains that for most of his life he was serving the family that did authorize those atrocities. Sandor starts to question who he serves as his story progresses, and the trial by the Brotherhood forces Sandor to say in his defense that he no longer serves those that destroyed the land, and in the end he is found innocent and let go.

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While Sansa's warg skills may be weaker than Jon's, Arya's or Bran's, she is still a warg and still contains that "beast" within her. Lady may have been the nicest and calmest of the direwolves, but she was definitely still a direwolf.

Amen to this. This is a gritty, sexy fantasy world he's immersing us into, and the reader would do well not to forget it. There are other kinder, gentler stories to read if one likes that sort of thing.

She does not run into the hound till after that and it's not till the end of the chapter hound makes the comment about Dogs.

The end of the chapter is what he's set up. That's the payoff. He has introduced the three motifs he uses throughout the Sansa/Sandor story in that chapter: true knights, Lady, Florian and Jonquil:

Help me, she prayed, send me a friend, a true knight to champion me...

Sansa found herself thinking of Lady again. She could smell out falsehood, she could...

Home, she thought, home, he is going to take me home, he'll keep me safe, my Florian...

Then he has Sansa run straight into Sandor, this is not even subtle, he's spelling it out:

She was racing headlong down the serpentine steps when a man lurched out of a hidden doorway. Sansa caromed into him and lost her balance. Iron fingers caught her by the wrist before she could fall.

And one by one, Sandor takes on each: true knights, Lady, Florian and Jonquil:

"You like knights, don't you?... True knights..."

"I never got my song... Florian and Jonquil?"

"A dog can smell a lie, you know."

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...While Sansa's warg skills may be weaker than Jon's, Arya's or Bran's, she is still a warg and still contains that "beast" within her. Lady may have been the nicest and calmest of the direwolves, but she was definitely still a direwolf.

heh. So Sandor look beastly on the outside but is monklike within, while Sansa is sweet on the outside but all wolf inside? Future chapters will indeed be controversial.

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Was going to comment on this as well that Tze's analysis of Beauty and the Beast inversion and the repercussions of Sansa being a warg is very interesting in this regard and that Sansa paired with a random "nice guy" would make her happy.

While Sansa's warg skills may be weaker than Jon's, Arya's or Bran's, she is still a warg and still contains that "beast" within her. Lady may have been the nicest and calmest of the direwolves, but she was definitely still a direwolf.

Thanks for the link to Tze's essay. I missed that one.

I'm not sure about the connection between the ability to warg and having a 'bestial' nature...

Nature v. manmade constructs is, of course, a popular theme in literature. In fantasy, magical abilities (especially those related to animals) are often indicative of a stronger connection to nature. Some of Bran's earlier thoughts seem to support this theme (Sansa's lost in the halls of men .... or something like that).... and yet....

I can't get over the fact that you can also warg *humans* too. If just the warging is representative of a greater connection to beasts and birds, why would you be able to do that?

Also, Varamyr's descriptions of his warging made it sound like a form of mental enslavement. That idea of capturing and controlling a part of nature (or humanity)... just seems so human. Isn't the nature v. man theme about the conflict created by mankind controlling and subsuming nature? If so, it seems like Varamyr's style of warging is on the 'man' side of that conflict.

I don't know, just a few random thoughts.

Indeed :) I'm currently reading Women who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.

My mom got me that after I had my first period (which probably tells you a lot about my mother). I don't know if I was too young or just uninterested in the topic at the time, but I only got about half-way through.

I'm sure you'll enjoy it more than I did, but seeing you mention it brings back memories (of that time in my life... I don't remember much of the actual book).

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OK, nice to be back. First, let me congratulate to DogLover and Ragnorak on brilliant essays that were written. I know my praises comes a bit late, but I hope you understand. Also, congratulations to LeCygne on such great resources he had gathered for this thread

heh. So Sandor look beastly on the outside but is monklike within, while Sansa is sweet on the outside but all wolf inside? Future chapters will indeed be controversial.

I always believed that they`ll find each other half way. Sandor will reach for beuty through his redemption arc on QI, and Sansa will reach for beast inside her through learning how to warg, and toughening by finding out who else has betrayed her - looking at you, LF :). That`s why I think this story is so uniquely beautiful. It speaks of transformation not just of the beast, than also of the beauty.

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That`s why I think this story is so uniquely beautiful. It speaks of transformation not just of the beast, than also of the beauty.

Mladen, I could not have asked for a better lead in to my latest essay which I have finally finished. Here it is!

East of the Sun and West of the Moon as a continuation of the exploration of Beauty and the Beast in A Song of Ice and Fire. (What a strange illusion it is to suppose that beauty is goodness. -Leo Tolstoy, novelist and philosopher (1828-1910)).

It's time to take a look at the Norse tale East of the Sun and West of the Moon. Here's a link to the full tale.

I found the annotations for the tale on this site, Sur La Lune, to be very helpful and I will be basing most of my essay of the comments from them.

East of the Sun is classified by Aarne-Thompson as type 425A, the search for the lost husband. Beauty and the Beast is similar but has some important differences (which will be discussed below) and therefore is in a slightly different category, Aarne-Thompson type 425C .

Right off it is apparent that East of the Sun is very similar to Cupid and Psyche and Beauty and the Beast. Themes that are central to all these fairy tales include -

all three stories center on a mortal girl attempting to regain her lover, who is not what he appears;

travel and transformation feature prominently;

the “wedding”/abduction stems from troubles in the family; and

the beauty of the girl is a blessing to her family but not to herself, forcing her into an arranged marriage with a stranger.

Main difference -

In C & P and East of the Sun, the heroines undergo dramatic change from having to achieve nearly impossible tasks or trials which are masked in riddles and are not as they appear. This is where these stories diverge most from Beauty and the Beast in that in the latter story, the heroine undergoes change from within and that internal conflict results in her free will to make the choice herself. For this reason B&B relates more to our modern outlook. (See Annotation #47 on the Sur La Lune site).

Let's take a look at the specifics of East of the Sun and West of the Moon.

Once upon a time there was a poor peasant who had so many children that he did not have enough of either food or clothing to give them. Pretty children they all were, but the prettiest was the youngest daughter, who was so lovely there was no end to her loveliness.

One day -- it was on a Thursday evening late in the fall -- the weather was wild and rough outside, and it was cruelly dark. The rain was falling and the wind blowing, until the walls of the cottage shook. They were all sitting around the fire busy with this thing and that. Then all at once something gave three taps on the window. The father went out to see what was the matter. Outside, what should he see but a great big white bear.

"Good evening to you," said the white bear.

"The same to you," said the man.

"Will you give me your youngest daughter? If you will, I'll make you as rich as you are now poor," said the bear.

Well, the man would not be at all sorry to be so rich; but still he thought he must have a bit of a talk with his daughter first; so he went in and told them how there was a great white bear waiting outside, who had given his word to make them so rich if he could only have the youngest daughter.

The girl said "No!" outright. Nothing could get her to say anything else; so the man went out and settled it with the white bear, that he should come again the next Thursday evening and get an answer. Meantime he talked to his daughter, and kept on telling her of all the riches they would get, and how well off she herself would be. At last she agreed to it, so she washed and mended her rags, and made herself as smart as she could. Soon she was ready for the trip, for she didn't have much to take along.

The next Thursday evening came the white bear to fetch her. She got on his back with her bundle, and off they went. After they had gone a good way, the white bear said, "Are you afraid?"

No, she wasn't.

"Just hold tight to my shaggy coat, and there's nothing to be afraid of," said the bear.

Analysis -

First of all I thought I'd comment about the fact that a specific time of Thursday evening in fall is given for when the Bear makes his first appearance. Annotations 6 & 7 explain that Thursday is named after Thor, the Norse god of thunder, lightening, storms and strength who was known for wielding his great hammer. This image reminds me a lot of King Robert Baratheon and in ASoIaF it's interesting that the story starts off with Robert's visit to Winterfell which sets all the rest of the story in motion and of course the storm to follow. Also, the idea that autumn is the season when this tale starts off is pretty much the same time setting as when ASoIaF begins.

In these tales the loveliest, youngest daughter agrees to go with the “animal bridegroom” which shows her willingness to sacrifice her desires for her family's welfare. This is a sign of virtue. (Annotations 14 and 15). However, I noted right off how this girl first says “No” immediately and then has to be talked into it. Even though it appears that she is being given a choice when her father speaks to her, she really has none or at least very little, which was always the case with arranged marriages.

Once the girl makes the decision to go, she claims she is not afraid. Here she clings tight to the Bear's back, holding his fur tightly and this keeps her from danger. This signifies how her spouse will protect her from danger if she clings to him. (Annotation 21).

She rode a long, long way, until they came to a large steep cliff. The white bear knocked on it. A door opened, and they came into a castle, where there were many rooms all lit up; rooms gleaming with silver and gold. Further, there was a table set there, and it was all as grand as grand could be. Then the white bear gave her a silver bell; and when she wanted anything, she only had to ring it, and she would get it at once.

Well, after she had eaten, and it became evening, she felt sleepy from her journey, and thought she would like to go to bed, so she rang the bell. She had barely rung it before she found herself in a room, where there was a bed made as fair and white as anyone would wish to sleep in, with silken pillows and curtains, and gold fringe. All that was in the room was gold or silver. After she had gone to bed, and put out the light, a man came and laid himself alongside her. It was the white bear, who cast off his pelt at night; but she never saw him, for he always came after she had put out the light. Before the day dawned he was up and off again.

Analysis -

The Bear takes the girl to his castle hidden inside a mountain where she is given everything she could possibly want or need. She has gold and riches at her disposal, and lives in complete luxury so she should be content but she also knows there is more to life than this. (Annotation 26) Basically, her new husband has provided everything she needs except she is lonely and has no one for companionship during the day at least, when she is awake. However, at night when the lights form her candles go out and she goes to bed, a man comes and lays down on the bed with her. She never sees what he looks like. Analysts suggest that this aspect is meant to alleviate a maiden's fears about the marriage bed since her husband appears to be a beast but he is really just a caring man. (Annotation 28). This is the one big stipulation to her new found wealth and status, that she may never look upon her spouse and has been interpreted as a warning against female curiosity.

Things went on happily for a while, but at last she became quiet and sad. She was alone all day long, and she became very homesick to see her father and mother and brothers and sisters. So one day, when the white bear asked what was wrong with her, she said it was so lonely there, and how she longed to go home to see her father and mother and brothers and sisters, and that was why she was so sad, because she couldn't get to them.

"Well," said the bear, "that can happen all right, but you must promise me, not to talk alone with your mother, but only when the others are around to hear. She will want to take you by the hand and lead you into a room to talk alone with her. But you must not do that, or else you'll bring bad luck on both of us."

So one Sunday the white bear came and said they could now set off to see her father and mother. Off they went, she sitting on his back; and they went far and long. At last they came to a grand house. Her bothers and sisters were outside running about and playing. Everything was so pretty, it was a joy to see.

"This is where your father and mother live now," said the white bear. "Now don't forget what I told you, else you'll make us both unhappy."

No, heaven forbid, she'd not forget. When they reached the house, the white bear turned around and left her.

She went in to see her father and mother, and there was such joy, that there was no end to it. None of them could thank her enough for all she had done for them. They now had everything they could wish for, as good as good could be. Then they wanted to know how she was.

Well, she said, it was very good to live where she did; she had all she wished. I don't know what else she said, but I don't think she told any of them the whole story. That afternoon, after they had eaten dinner, everything happened as the white bear had said it would. Her mother wanted to talk with her alone in her bedroom; but she remembered what the white bear had said, and wouldn't go with her.

"What we have to talk about we can talk about any time," she said, and put her mother off. But somehow or other, her mother got to her at last, and she had to tell her the whole story. She told her, how every night, after she had gone to bed, a man came and lay down beside her as soon as she had put out the light, and how she never saw him, because he was always up and away before the morning dawned; and how she was terribly sad, for she wanted so much to see him, and how she was by herself all day long, and how dreary, and lonesome it was.

"Oh dear," said her mother; "it may well be a troll you are sleeping with! But now I'll give you some good advice how to see him. I'll give you a candle stub, which you can carry home in your bosom; just light it while he is asleep, but be careful not to drop any tallow on him."

Yes, she took the candle, and hid it in her bosom, and that evening the white bear came and took her away.

But when they had gone a piece, the white bear asked if all hadn't happened as he had said.

She couldn't deny that it had.

"Take care," said he, "if you have listened to your mother's advice, you will bring bad luck on us both, and it will be finished with the two of us."

No, by no means!

Analysis -

Here we have the climax of the conflict between the girl's feelings of homesickness and missing her family, and the idea that she must live with and obey her husband. Homesickness is the catalyst for the next events in the story as the maiden's failure to let go of her home and family and to be completely happy in her new home causes the separation form her lover/husband and his near destruction. (Annotation 30) . This leads into the seminal moment of the gaze which here is encouraged by the girl's mother, and in C & P by Psyche's sisters, who comes up with a plan for her to be able to look upon her husband while he is asleep and against his instructions. The conflict between a young wife listening to her mother or older sisters instead of her new husband is often a source of strife in a new marriage. (Annotation 35).

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THE GAZE AND JOURNEY

So when she reached home, and had gone to bed, it was the same as before. A man came and lay down beside her; but in the middle of the night, when she heard that he was fast asleep, she got up and lit the candle. She let the light shine on him, and saw that he was the most handsome prince one ever set eyes on. She fell so deeply in love with him, that she thought she couldn't live if she didn't give him a kiss at once. And so she did, but as she kissed him she let three drops of hot tallow drip onto his shirt, and he woke up.

"What have you done?" he cried; "now you have made us both unlucky, for had you held out only this one year, I would have been free! I have a stepmother who has bewitched me, so that I am a white bear by day, and a man by night. But now all ties are broken between us. Now I must leave you for her. She lives in a castle east of the sun and west of the moon, and there, too, is a princess, one with a nose three yards long, and now I will have to marry her."

She cried and grieved, but there was no help for it; he had to go.

Then she asked if she could go with him.

No, she could not.

"Tell me the way, then" she said, "so I can look for you; surely I may do that."

Yes, she could do that, but there was no way leading to the place. It lay east of the sun and west of the moon, and she'd never find her way there.

Analysis-

The candle the girl uses to gaze upon her husband literally sheds light on him and is a symbolic representation of her “seeing the light”, gaining knowledge of something about which she was in the dark before. It is a very significant moment.

In this story in particular we see that the girl immediately falls in love with her handsome husband and kisses him and this leads to the wax from the candle spilling on his shirt and waking him up. (Kind of a reversal of the usual trope in which a handsome Prince finds a sleeping Princess and kisses her to wake her up, which is what happens with Cupid and Psyche later on). I find this to represent the girl's sexual awakening and I think it is very important that it happens at the moment of her gaze, when she is able to shed light on her situation and see the truth. However, as with Adam and Eve who eat the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge, gaining that insight and opening their eyes to see the real truth comes with a huge cost.

It is at this point that this story and C & P diverge from the Beauty and the Beast type. Here the girl must now go on a quest to find her husband and prover her worthiness and dedication to him after her indiscretion. (Annotation 47). So, while Beauty and the Beast involves a fundamental inner transformation on behalf of Belle, the transformation of the other party to this relationship, the Beast, is fundamental as well. In East of the Sun however, the beast's transformation is not a part of this story. It is all about the beauty's journey to prove her worth, and it is an external struggle as she has already “fallen in love” with her spouse upon seeing him.

Her journey begins as she sets off to find the castle that lay East of the Sun and West of the Moon. In the first part of her journey the girl separately meets 3 old crones who each give her advice and a gift. The first aged woman gives her a golden apple, the second a golden carding comb and the third a golden spinning wheel. They also note that she must know about the Prince because she is the one who should have had the Prince.

Annotation 48 explains that the aged women who give the girl guidance and gifts to help her with her quest are often sources of wisdom and advice in fairy tales, and the gifts help younger characters on quests. Sometimes the old women are gods, fairies, or angels in disguise. The aged women appear to give the heroine help since she is the first and true bride of the prince, not for any of her own virtues. Annotation 50 suggests that this is meant to show how the tale upholds the sanctity of marriage.

Two of the items that the girl receives as gifts are household items – the carding comb and the spinning wheel. They are meant to represent the idea that the girl will need to know common household chores, but that they are gold shows how an ordinary item becomes extraordinary. (Annotation 49). The golden apple is something we have discussed before. Annotation 49 also explains the significance of the apple as “a symbol of love and affection. The apple was sacred to Aphrodite and represented knowledge, especially sexual knowledge, fertility and love. “

The second part of her journey has our heroine riding on the four winds, which represents how she has literally traveled the four corners of the earth, and it is the North wind that finally brings her to the land East of the Sun and West of the Moon. The North wind is considered the strongest and brings with it winter and bitter cold weather. (Annotation 54).

Yay, she has finally found the castle where her Prince is living. But even after all she has been through to find him, the story is not over yet. She still has to go through another series of trials.

Our young heroine (who doesn't have a name by the way) runs into the Princess with the long nose who was to marry the Prince. The Princess asks the girl if she can buy her golden apple and the girl says, “it wasn't for sale for gold or money, but if she could go to the prince who was there, and be alone with him that night she could have it. “ The Princess agrees and takes the apple. That night the girl goes to be with the Prince. However, he is fast asleep and she cannot wake him no matter how hard she tries. She cries and frets all night but the Prince does not wake up. The next morning the princess casts the girl out of the castle but later sees her with her golden carding comb and again asks if she can buy it. Again the girl replies as she did the day before and again the girl goes to the Prince that night but cannot wake him no matter how hard she tries. She cries and frets all night. The next day, you guessed it, the same thing happens with the golden spinning wheel. The Princess asks to buy it and the girl says she can have it if she can go to the Prince that night and be with him. However, this third time something different happens. It seems that for some inexplicable reason there are some Christians being held captive in the castle and they have heard the girl's cries the last two nights coming from the Prince's room. They tell the Prince about it and that night, when the Princess with the long nose gives him a drink he only pretends to drink it because he realizes that it is really a sleeping potion. So, on the third night the girl goes to the Prince's room and this time he is awake and sees her. They have a joyful reunion and she tells him how she came to be there.

Analysis-

"The 'true bride' often tricks the 'false bride' into letting her spend the night with the prince, or, as in this tale, she bribes her. The imposter bride is always eager to take possession of an object and will sacrifice the prince's welfare for material gain." (Annotation 56). I think this idea is meant to show that the false bride is undeserving of the handsome Prince because she is greedy and does not care for his welfare. A true bride will always have her husband's best interests at heart. There is also an irony now in that the girl cannot wake the Prince at all to get him back, whereas when she first gazed upon him he woke up immediately and that is what led to her losing him. (Annotation 58). Boy they really want to make this girl pay for her daring to look upon the true image of her husband. The other thing that is of note is the help the girl receives from the “Christians”. According to Annotation 59 this was added by the original chroniclers of the folk tale as the influence of Christianity spread. I am curious as to what the original tale used because I interpret this as the smallfolk, every day little people, helping the girl in her quest to get her husband back, just as Psyche had help from the ants and other animals in completing her seemingly impossible tasks. If not for the information from these people, the Prince would not have known about the sleeping potion and the girls third and last chance to wake him up would have been futile.

But, this is still not the end of the tale as the Prince is still required to marry the ugly Princess with the long nose and they have one more test to go through before they can live together happily ever after. However, this time the Prince comes up with a plan.

"Ah," said the prince, "you've come in the very nick of time, for tomorrow is to be our wedding day. But now I won't have the long-nose, and you are the only woman in the world who can set me free. I'll say that I want to see what my wife is fit for, and beg her to wash the shirt which has the three spots of tallow on it. She'll agree, for she doesn't know that you are the one who put them there. Only Christians, and not such a pack of trolls, can wash them out again. I'll say that I will marry only the woman who can wash them out, and ask you to try it."

So there was great joy and love between them all the night. But next day, when the wedding was planned, the prince said, "First of all, I'd like to see what my bride is fit for."

"Yes!" said the stepmother, with all her heart.

"Well," said the prince, "I've got a fine shirt which I'd like for my wedding shirt, but somehow or other it got three spots of tallow on it, which I must have washed out. I have sworn to marry only the woman who is able to do that. If she can't, then she's not worth having."

Well, that was no big thing they said, so they agreed, and the one with the long nose began to wash away as hard as she could, but the more she rubbed and scrubbed, the bigger the spots grew.

"Ah!" said the old troll woman, her mother, "you can't wash. Let me try."

But she had hardly touched the shirt, before it got far worse than before, and with all her rubbing, and wringing, and scrubbing, the spots grew bigger and blacker, and the shirt got ever darker and uglier.

Then all the other trolls began to wash, but the longer it lasted, the blacker and uglier the shirt grew, until at last it was as black all over as if it been up the chimney.

"Ah!" said the prince, "none of you is worth a straw; you can't wash. Why there, outside, sits a beggar girl, I'll bet she knows how to wash better than the whole lot of you. Come in, girl!" he shouted.

She came in.

"Can you wash this shirt clean, girl, you?" he said.

"I don't know," she said, "but I think I can."

And almost before she had taken it and dipped it into the water, it was as white as driven snow, and whiter still.

"Yes, you are the girl for me," said the prince.

At that the old troll woman flew into such a rage, she exploded on the spot, and the princess with the long nose after her, and the whole pack of trolls after her -- at least I've never heard a word about them since.

As for the prince and princess, they set free all the poor Christians who had been captured and shut up there; and they took with them all the silver and gold, and flew away as far as they could from the castle that lay east of the sun and west of the moon.

Analysis-

I really like how Annotation 60 explains the significance and symbolism of the task of washing the white shirt clean so I am just going to quote it:

First the maiden's ability to clean the garment would mark her as skilled at domestic arts and thus a suitable bride.

Second, the heroine is accomplishing a difficult task, removing a settled stain from clothing. Psyche, in Cupid and Psyche, has to perform three impossible tasks to prove her devotion to Cupid.

Third, the endeavour emphasizes the Christian themes of forgiveness and purity. The maiden is washed clean of her sins when she cleans the shirt--which becomes as white as driven snow--since she is now shown to be of the Christian faith. In many religions, brides go through ritualistic cleansing before their marriage. The pagan creatures--the trolls--only make the shirt dirtier and blacker as they attempt to clean it. Their failed attempts to remove the spot is reminiscent of Lady MacBeth's inability to remove the vision of blood from her hands in Shakespeare's MacBeth.

It is only after the girl has been purified and her past transgression wiped clean, for she must clean off the three spots of tallow that fell from the candle when she first committed her transgression, that all further obstacles are removed and they can live happily ever after. The happily ever after, of course, includes living with great wealth, since “[w]hile supporting the ideals of love, honor, and virtue, fairy tales are very practical, supporting the idea that heroes need some degree of material wealth and security to live happily ever after.” (Annotation 63).

The reason I picked many of the annotations I highlighted above is that I found them very eye opening in explaining how this type of tale promotes the institution of marriage as a contract and business arrangement. Even more it emphasizes that for a girl to be worthy of a good match to a wealthy spouse she must be skilled in the domestic arts, virtuous in putting herself above others and once married must be completely devoted to her spouse. If she defies her spouse or shows any curiosity she will be punished. Just as I finished writing this paragraph the movie The Stepford Wives jumped into my head. It's like these tales are meant to train girls to be the perfect wife. I think that's why the similar but slightly varied tale of Beauty and the Beast is more preferred today because in that story the girl's inner transformation is the main idea that is being promoted, and from that inner transformation she can make her own decision about accepting the Beast. Also, in Beauty and the Beast as I mentioned earlier, the Beast has to prove himself too. He must conquer his more monstrous aspects to prove his love to her.

Special thanks to Milady of York for her links to some useful resources. I especially liked this woman's feminist interpretation of this tale.

And I loved the romantic and more optimistic sentiment expressed by the woman in this blog.

The lesson of this allegory is that the everlasting love is not given free, but one has to have courage and be prepared to sacrifice everything for it. Nor does the real love consist only of the physical attraction and material things, but it goes much deeper, overcoming the four elements, the four winds, sleep and even death: Amor vincit omnia; et nos cedamus amori.

Both those blogs also have some beautiful paintings and illustrations of the images from East of The Sun and West of the Moon, and from Cupid and Psyche that are worth checking out. Here's a link to some more stunning illustrations of East of the Sun by Kay Nielsen. Hope you enjoy them!

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Very nice analysis Elba!

It reminded me that I wanted to bring up - ask wether it has been brought up - a tale called Snow - White and Rose - Red (Aarne-Thompson type 426). It´s not a tale I like much, but the characters of the girls reminded me of Sansa and Arya and I thought that Brashcandy would enjoy the ungrateful dwarf.

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Amen to this. This is a gritty, sexy fantasy world he's immersing us into, and the reader would do well not to forget it. There are other kinder, gentler stories to read if one likes that sort of thing.

The end of the chapter is what he's set up. That's the payoff. He has introduced the three motifs he uses throughout the Sansa/Sandor story in that chapter: true knights, Lady, Florian and Jonquil:

Then he has Sansa run straight into Sandor, this is not even subtle, he's spelling it out:

And one by one, Sandor takes on each: true knights, Lady, Florian and Jonquil:

That's 4 motifs, and not exactly what we are talking about. We were just talkiing about the order of events. Lady then Sando not Sandor than lady. Not saying it changes the theme, just saying what order things occured.

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Mladen, I could not have asked for a better lead in to my latest essay which I have finally finished. Here it is!

I am glad to be helpful :)

Elba, wow, this was so enlightening and interesting reading. For the beginning, I will digress a bit. As I said in my previous post, the uniqness of San/San story is in that dual transformation - both his and hers. And I strongly believe, if they would ever be given a chance, the only way it could work is for them to reach for another one in themselves. Sandor for Sansa in him, and Sansa for Sandor in her. And since you quoted Tolstoy at the beginning of the essay, I think this could also be paired with Anna Karenina. I have done an essay on last edition talking about Levin/Kitty relationship and parallels with Sandor/Sansa relationship. Levin figured as beast and Kitty as beauty, but by the end of the book, Levin finds beauty in love with Kitty, changes his aspirations and relligious views and `satisfies` with Kitty, and Kitty, after painful experience with Vronski, learns how to love Levin.

Interestingly, here we can make a wonderful parallel between Anna Karenina and this story. Levin is trying to be worthy of Kitty by playing the city rules, the bonton and manners of Moscow, basically approaching to her and her life, and she later is trying to be worthy of him, by breaking the porcelain doll ideal he has about her, she takes care of his brother and later fights to make him understand he got it all.

I am raised in traditional society, and let me share piece of that tradition. In Montenegro, when bride is being taken by the groom`s best man and brother, from the house of her father, her relatives yell her name trying to make her turn around, and the best man`s and brother`s duty is to stop that. It`s considered bad luck, because it can foreshadow bride`s `return` aka divorce. Now in this story, the girl doesn`t hesitate, she is going without a doubt. Once resolved, she goes through. Something like Sansa going to KL, and abandoning Winterfell. Neither of them turned back. But, here`s the element of turning back. The girl was homesick and went to her family and talked with mother, and part of Sansa returned to Winterfell with Lady, thus symbolizing bad luck in both cases.

Also, very important parallel between Sansa and the girl. White bear said to girl to hold tight to his coat and she won`t be afraid of anything. Sansa held Sandor`s Kingsguard cloak. In both cases it represents the beginning of great affection of the girl/Sansa towards white bear/Sandor, the two items became the protection and something lady can lean on.

Here we have candle which girl used to see white bear`s face, and Sandor was wearing a torch when he made Sansa watch at his scar. More than that, both of them, after revealing their faces completely, told the ladies their biggest secret. And that secret separated the girl and bear, and for Sansa and Sandor brought them a bit closer

OK, now regarding Nortern wind that brought her to the land east of the Sun and west of the Moon. Let we take it geographically. East of the Sun in Westeros would mean east from Sunspear, and that would be Essos, and west of the Moon, I think that would be Gates of the Moon are Riverlands. Now, QI is Sandor`s current location and Essos current Tyrion`s. Now here we have the inversion of the roles. In the story we have a true and false wife and one husband, in ASOIAF we have a true and false husband and one wife (I am still sticking to my theory Sansa and Sandor symbolically married the night at Battle of Blackwater bay)

And lastly, the cleaning. Sandor`s cloak was dirty, but symbolically he washed it the first time when he came to protect Sansa, the second time when he proved his innocence in front of Gods with duel with Beric, and third when he `died` under that tree, and was taken to QI, which makes him perfect and right husband for Sansa.

Elba, thank you again for this beautiful analysis. It was really a privelege to think over it, and because of essays like this one, I couldn`t be more happier to be back.

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Thank you Lykos and Mladen. I'm glad you enjoyed reading it. Lykos, I do remember the Snow White and Red Rose tale being mentioned a while back, but I don't think there was any specific discussion on it. When I have a chance, there are a few fairy tales that I'd like to read in light of what I have learned here. That's one of the ones I'd like to look into and also the more well known Snow White story.

Mladen your comments were interesting. I enjoyed learning about the marriage customs of Montenegro and that's a great point about the not looking back idea. I also liked your inversion idea of Sansa having two husbands, the "false" and the "true". I am about to sign off for the night but I have to give that some more thought.

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Great essay Ragnorak. Very interesting and I think you made a case for Sandor as Parsival very well. I was wondering though about the role of Sandor's trial with the Brotherhood and the fight with Beric, as I find that to be a very significant moment in Sandor's journey. When you got to the description of the Fisher King, I immediately thought of Beric in that role, especially given that he is neither living nor dead as you described. His many wounds were inflicted when he was sent forth to protect the lands and the people of the Riverlands are clearly very vested in his well being as we saw with the tree people Arya comes across when she is being taken to Beric. From this I also see an element of how as the Fisher King suffers, so does the land. Finally, thinking about the question that Parsival is supposed to ask, whom does the grail serve, got me thinking about a question that I think is really the defining question for Sandor, and that is, who does he serve? The analysis of Sandor's trial that Milady did for the Arya reread is the culmination of that dilemma. Before the actual duel with Beric, the Brotherhood is flinging all sorts of accusations to him about atrocities done to the Riverlands and the people who live there. Sandor points out that he has done none of those things himself, though the fact remains that for most of his life he was serving the family that did authorize those atrocities. Sandor starts to question who he serves as his story progresses, and the trial by the Brotherhood forces Sandor to say in his defense that he no longer serves those that destroyed the land, and in the end he is found innocent and let go.

Thank you. I missed some big points on Sandor fighting Beric that apply to the Red Knight symbolism. Beric serves the Red God, has a Red Priest, they remove their armor before fighting, and Sandor ends up taking Arya from Beric-- which could make her symbolically the armor or the chalice stolen from the Queen. Beric is defying Joffrey much like the Red Knight defied Arthur. He is also trying to protect the land that is technically King Robb's on Ned's orders (who was beheaded which can be a symbolic castration or groin wound.) That land is also tied to Sansa in a very feminine way in that the Riverlands are her mother's homeland in addition to her own connection as Robb's sister.

I like your observation about Beric mirroring the Fisher King's suffering I just don't see exactly where to fit it in. We do see Sandor pretty openly wrestling with the question of whom does he serve-- Robb, the Village, himself? In each capacity he wants to be a protector and his incorrect choice of whom to serve can be seen as "causing" the suffering in the land. It would be hard to find a character in any story that fits the "whom does the grail serve?" question better than Sandor.

I skimmed your essay and it seems intriguing. I want to read the original tale you linked first before digesting what you wrote.

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Elba, that was really fascinating! I like the conclusion of the feminist blog. :)

Ultimately, the careful cultivation of her ignorance leads to a bunch of dead trolls, a looted castle, and a marriage to a prince whose pretty face cannot possibly make up for the fact that his plan still leaves them stranded in a land that shouldn't exist.

Also got a chance to read tze's post Lyanna linked to, and I like this especially:

This is the opposite of what we'd expect from the "Beauty's" influence on the "Beast", but what's interesting is that here, the Beauty does indeed transform the Beast into a form more like her... the Beauty is actually more of a true beast than the Beast himself, and she influences the Beast to become more of a "beast", to make himself more like her (more of a wolf than a dog).

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Great work Elba.

The reason I picked many of the annotations I highlighted above is that I found them very eye opening in explaining how this type of tale promotes the institution of marriage as a contract and business arrangement. Even more it emphasizes that for a girl to be worthy of a good match to a wealthy spouse she must be skilled in the domestic arts, virtuous in putting herself above others and once married must be completely devoted to her spouse. If she defies her spouse or shows any curiosity she will be punished. Just as I finished writing this paragraph the movie The Stepford Wives jumped into my head. It's like these tales are meant to train girls to be the perfect wife. I think that's why the similar but slightly varied tale of Beauty and the Beast is more preferred today because in that story the girl's inner transformation is the main idea that is being promoted, and from that inner transformation she can make her own decision about accepting the Beast. Also, in Beauty and the Beast as I mentioned earlier, the Beast has to prove himself too. He must conquer his more monstrous aspects to prove his love to her.

I agree with the above, and it's telling how most of the motifs of this tale are reversed in the relationship between Sansa and Sandor (the positive beast figure in her life). Instead of being punished for looking, Sansa is actively encouraged by the man himself to look at his face; the clean garment which enables the couple to ultimately reunite is a bloody, stained cloak for Sansa which she keeps with other precious clothing. And their relationship itself is not one designed for exploitative gain and profit by family members.

The mother's role in the tale is also interesting to analyse, and I kept getting shades of both Cersei and Randa Royce. Both women have provided Sansa with "womanly" advice, and particularly with Randa, we see Sansa at a stage where she's beginning to have some understanding of what the marriage bed entails and her own desires. By recommending that the young girl use a candle to see her husband, the mother figure is portrayed as a negative influence, instilling a sense of fear and causing the girl to lose her lover. It seems however, that Martin wants to use Randa (and Mya Stone) to enable a more healthy development of Sansa's sexuality, one where looking and discovery does not equal punishment and loss. Given what we suspect of LF's true motives, and the already dubious reputation of Harry the Heir, "seeing" what is really happening around her will be vital to ensuring Sansa's autonomy.

Very nice analysis Elba!

It reminded me that I wanted to bring up - ask wether it has been brought up - a tale called Snow - White and Rose - Red (Aarne-Thompson type 426). It´s not a tale I like much, but the characters of the girls reminded me of Sansa and Arya and I thought that Brashcandy would enjoy the ungrateful dwarf.

I did very much Lykos, thank you ;)

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