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brashcandy

From Pawn to Player: Rethinking Sansa XX

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A couple of days after reading Milady's post about the way Littlefinger was trying to get Sansa to forget that she is a Stark, I happened to be listening to a Diana Krall CD ("Love Scenes"), and was reminded of Milady's analysis after hearing "They Can't Take That Away From Me". This is a Gershwin song from 1937 that has become a jazz standard. As per usual, I will post the lyrics and links to You Tube and see if others agree with my intuition in this case:

The way you wear your hat

The way you sip your tea

The memory of all that

No, no they can't take that away from me

The way your smile just beams

The way you sing off key

The way you haunt my dreams

No, no they can't take that away from me

We may never, never meet again

On the bumpy road to love

Still I'll always, always keep the memory of

The way you hold your knife

The way we danced till three

The way you changed my life

No, no they can't take that away from me

No, they can't take that away from me

We may never, never meet again

On that bumpy road to love

Still I'll always, always keep the memory of

The way you hold your knife

The way we danced till three

The way you changed my life

No, no they can't take that away from me

No, they can't take that away from me.

A few alterations are in order: "helm" for "hat", perhaps, and "sword" for "knife", and I can't see Sandor dancing :) or sipping tea (but who knows what Martin will do?), but other lines seem to fit nicely.

Now off to you tube for some links

Diana Krall, piano and voice

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=fww8k6bj5O4

Some day she will just be "Diana" the way Ella Fitzgerald is just "Ella" and Sarah Vaughn is just "Sarah". Diana has the advantage that she is also a fine jazz pianist, as well.

Sarah:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4bjmJoSf0xw

Billie:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=lvrbOSPX6P4

Ella and Louis:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=jaEaoo9lNmk

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Hiya everyone!!

So sorry for being absent for some weeks but between finals, a trip out of town, and summer holidays, I was a bit busy. Now thankfully I’m back and after some hours I have just caught up with all the posts that I’d missed out. They were wonderful and a reminder of why this thread is the best one out there :D I apologize for the length of my post- which I’ve decided to break down in different bits- but there was a lot of interesting stuff being discussed lately! (,:

redviper9, I’m really glad to have you write and share with us all your wonderful essays! Here are some of my thoughts regarding the one about Jon/Sansa-Viserys/Dany, helped by some things that Brash pointed out afterwards:

I totally agree with you on these things:

Ultimately though, Jon's arc might offer the most clues, because Sansa's situation at the end ofAFfC is eerily similar to Jon's situation at the beginning of AGoT: the noble bastard at the whim of the limits their birth has placed on them.”

“Most importantly, Sansa, just like Jon did after his talk with Donal Noye and his election as Lord Commander, has proved herself willing to reach out to people.”

…If she may be able to co-opt the hard power represented by the Vale army in opposition to LF's plans.”

All of these points got me thinking on how well Sansa has been able to adapt to all the difficult circumstances she’s been thrown into in the past, and it’s hopefully a good sign for her future that she will be able to adjust yet again and somehow win the lords of the Vale to her side, rather than Petyr’s or Aegon’s or somebody else’s. I think it was a nice parallel to see that both Sansa and Dany (the latter in the first book with the way she adapted to the Dothraki culture) can not only survive despite constantly being changed from circustances, but also as I think Brash noted, both are mother figures. There is of course the Sweetrobin reference for Sansa, but also the way the Mother’s Hymn can be associated to her. I think it has been discussed in the past also how important the role of motherhood is for Sansa, since she has had many different mothers to learn from, whether it was Cat or Cersei or Lysa.

You mentioned that you think Myranda Royce may know who Alayne truly is, and while I am not so sure of that, I wanted to briefly comment on the conversation about Jon/Sansa being linked romantically in the future. I don’t see it happening, and while Jon is by far a better match than some of the men Sansa has been forced to endure in the past, I think that this redviper9’s words here are a nice parallel not only to the way Sansa and Jon would behave where they to end up being some sort of rulers, (which btw also reminded me like it did you how Ned would have reacted) but with how they would view a marriage between them:

But Jon, following his talk with Donal Noye and Benjen's telling him that he'll have to earn his way up in the Watch, doesn't seek power…. Though I do not preclude the possibility of Sansa one day wielding formal power, I do not believe that it will be because she sought it out. Rather, much like Jon, I can see her accepting a responsibility that others have burdened her with, and finding little, if any, joy in it (something that would also make her quite like her father, a man who was always keenly aware of the burdens and responsibilities tied to his position).”

I think that neither Jon nor Sansa would seek a marriage alliance between them, but in the end, if they accepted it for the good of the realms, it would be a bit bittersweet because they wouldn’t be truly happy. But that’s just what I think would happen…

Oh and when you answered to somebody else how Sansa could end up finding herself before a weirdwood where she to visit Harrenhal or Runestone- I think it would be cool if we got to see Sansa in those places! I can imagine Sansa visiting Runestone after she wins over the Lords of the Vale. And though I don’t want her around LF, if both of them end up at Harrenhall, I wouldn’t mind if Lady Stoneheart paid the latter a visit..!

Mladen: You made some very interesting remarks regarding Rhaegar and Robb and how Sansa and Dany view them. I like how you wrote this:

Since she doesn`t consider Viserys a true dragon, Rhaegar is someone she genuinly identifies with. Sansa, in the Vale, as Alayne is someone who identifies with Jon through bastard status.”

& this:

Viserys was huge disappointment to Dany, as he constantly tormented her, and lastly sold her to Khal Drogo, and Robb, making one of the gravest mistakes, left Sansa on mercy of the Lannisters. But, despite that, both sisters care for them. Dany realizes that Viserys had gone mad due to everything that happened to them, and Sansa, for all the time she spent in KL, never stopped praying for Robb.”

It’s so sad that Robb didn’t rescue Sansa from the clutches of the Lannisters. I can’t wait to find out what has happened with Robb’s last will. Maybe Sansa will be glad of being set aside in the line of succession to Winterfell, or maybe she won’t, but I think it’s important that Jon (When Stannis presented him with the opportunity) always reminded himself that Sansa came before him when the chance to inherit Winterfell was brought up.

EDIT: I had to erase that big quote from Geroge I said I found on tumblr cause I think it wasn't him who said that bit about Sansa that I'd written down here. So if you happened to read that before I erased it, I'm sorry for the mistake (:

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Milady: Milady asked us this:

Wouldn't Clegane also pose a threat to Sansa's "good girl" demeanour like the direwolf he's theorised to replace?”

& then Brash said this later on in the thread:

Yet in this latter situation, Sansa's own circumstances have changed, and "Alayne" is having fantasies of someone who would not be wholly suitable for Sansa Stark either. So although Sansa is trying to push the thoughts of the Hound away, there's a subconscious investment on her part in how the relationship between Mya and Lothor develops.”

Well, I must say that both quotes remind me every time I re-read them about Sansa’s first chapter, back when she was having breakfast with her septa, who reprimanded her for feeding Lady under the table or something like that, exclaiming that Sansa was as willful as Arya I think when it came to her direwolf… Well, we’ve talked before of how Sandor is Lady’s replacement, and just as Septa Mordane didn’t think it was suitable for Sansa to be feeding her Lady under the table, the world may frown upon Sansa’s desire to maybe one day in the not so distant future form some sort of relationship with Sandor Clegane, whether it is as her sworn shield or something else… who knows? (;

Brash:

Interesting. She was definitely lamenting that wish in AFFC when Marillion would not shut up, but I like the connection you've made to Mance Rayder as Bael - a name that also has associations with Petyr Baelish, and his "theft" of Winterfell's daughter.”

Mladen:

We have such 2 emotionally strong women who will fulfill expectations, but alas will never give their hearts. And just like Lyanna escaped with Rhaegar, Sansa abandoned Tyrion...”

I really liked these two quotes because they somehow link Sansa to her northern roots even more!

Redriver: Wonderful Asha/Theon-Sansa/Bran analysis!! I liked that you made a reference to how the Stark siblings were disilusioned by knights, and that you said, “Their arcs reflect how they recover from these losses and shattered dreams…”

That’s beautiful, and it’s ironiclly intresting to see how Bran for example at first thought that once he lost the use of his legs he wouldn’t end up doing anything interesting with his life, and yet when we last saw him he was learning how to gain quite a lot of power. His future role in the series may not be how Bran would have once liked to spend his life, and that is where your words enter (: as to Sansa, she had no idea at first that what she wanted most of all (being queen) would end up being such a bad thing, but I think it would be a nice contrast (if it is what she truly desires for herself) to see her end up opting for a much more simpler life than that of a ruler. Something her younger self would have looked upon with disdain.

Also, it is indeed true that Sansa, though she didn’t chose to act as Alayne, is doing quiet a good job of learning from the role of being bastard born, gaining a strength no one would have suspected from it. (I hope I’m making sense here!)

Returning to the Greyjoys, some of the comparisons between Asha and Sansa that DogLover made were spot on, and I can’t believe I hadn’t seen them earlier! & these were just great points too!

I suppose it's possible that you could say that "Alayne Stone" also provides LF with that twisted sense of pleasure, but ultimately the identity has proven to be an empowering one for Sansa, whereas "Reek" delivered Theon to the depths of misery, and humiliation. Alayne allows Sansa to live - with added courage and confidence, whilst Reek demanded Theon had to die - in a violent assault on the body and mind. When you contrast how these two identities function, it highlights IMO that Sansa is not at risk of losing herself to Alayne as has been suggested, or in becoming some thrall of Littlefinger's. The ghost wolf she hears could have very well been a reminder from Bran, and foreshadowing of their eventual contact and co-operation.”

It’s just like what Brash pointed out to, and which gives us all hope for Sansa’s future and chances to setting foot on northern soil again (a hope that could also be backed up by what Milady hinted at regarding Bloodraven observing Sansa, and taking a much more active role in shaping her future than we may have believed):

If we can see Theon's scene as instructive, then it appears as though Sansa was able to say a prayer after all, and that it was answered in the inspiration to build Winterfell. Theon reaffirms his identity before the heart tree - a son of Pyke - and it is in constructing Winterfell that Sansa too is able to call on the strength associated with her Northern roots.”

Brash, I support your connection between Bran & Sandor being Sansa and Theon’s knights/saviours, and laughed when you wrote about how “close-mouthed by nature individuals have a tendency of being quite chatty around the little-bird, and revealing secrets…” heheh (;

Daphne23: I agree with you that it would be itnresting to read about how Brienne could end up being a bridge for Sansa & Arya. There is also Brienne’s relationship with Cat to consider, and which could end up being of importance in an upcoming reunion between the sisters.

Mahaut: Oh I really enjoyed reading about Sansa and knighthood in your essay! What struck me more was the way you noticed how Jory and Sandor’s armour were similar. Another hint at Sandor behaving more like a northerner!

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Milady: Oh my goodness! You outdid yourself again and wrote fantastic essays. Will forever be in awe of all the research you put into them, and the way you noticed the similarities for example between what Cat and Sansa ate while they were either going up or down the Eyrie. I agree with Brash that Sansa having stewed goat for lunch is a nasty teaser by George- or well, at least I want it to be… ;)

Regarding your essay on Sansa/Ned/LF, I liked these bits:

At one point, Baelish tells Sansa that men of honour will do for their children what they will not do for themselves, and by Ned’s behaviour we can see that for once he wasn’t mistaken.”

This got me thinking that even if Petyr is not at all what one could call a man of honour, it wouldn’t be so farfetched to see his “daughter” being ultimately the cause of his downfall because he was careless enough to do or say things around Sansa that he probably shouldn’t have. There is the kiss after Sansa built the snow castle (and while for all we know the man planned it all along just so he could get rid of Lysa faster), in the end his actions led to Lysa spilling a lot of beans about Petyr’s past to Sansa, something she could use against him in the future. This can be linked with what you wrote about LF getting his hands dirty, since he killed Lysa for Sansa in a way (setting aside the relation to Cat here).

It has been pointed out before in the threads how in Sansa’s last chapter in Feast we see Petyr’s breath no longer smelling of mint. It’s suggested that he’s drinking more than he had previously, which could also be a sign of carelessness. I’m sure there are more clues, scenes, but I can’t recall anymore right now.

You also mentioned Ned & LF’s relationship, and after all of your notes about how the dagger, the orange juice, and the pomegranates seeds play an important role in the latter’s motivations, role so far, I can’t do anything else but hope more fiercely that Sansa one day learns what happened in the throne room the day Petyr betrayed Eddard. (We know Sandor was there btw), and LF finds out what terrible mistakes he did (along with Cersei and others) on the days he began to ignore Sansa was a Stark first and foremost, and on the moment he began to underestimate her.

It’s like what you wrote here, and which I really loved:

Even if Sansa doesn’t personally slit his throat, beheads him, poisons him, etc., if his downfall comes as a direct consequence of her actions, then Littlefinger would arguably have met a sort of First Men justice at the hands of a Stark, and the circle would be poetically completed with the protagonists back in the end to a situation so alike to the beginning, but with their roles inverted.”

I don’t want Sansa to be the one who actually kills LF, since that would mean that she would lost an important part of herself in the process, but she can very well lead to his downfall. She wouldn’t take much joy from it, but neither would she shy away from it when the moment came to deliver justice.

I also wanted to say that this bits you showed us were so utterly heartbreaking:

He (Ned) therefore dies wearing his House colours, but inverted: instead of the Stark sigil of a gray direwolf on a white background, it’s a white direwolf on a gray background… like a bastard. And he confesses his “treason” invoking the Seven as his witnesses, not the Old Gods he’s kept all his life and are the only ones he worships, which stresses just how false were the words he had to yell to save Sansa, who’d be later forced by the same man to adopt a false bastardy.”

Regarding Sandor Clegane, and what you said Milady, it made me grin from ear to ear:

But what happens when the girl has someone else in her mind and the groomer doesn’t know, much less suspect, the existence of this “rival,” and there’s no way the girl is ever going to reveal it to him? How does he erode emotional bonds he ignores? What is worse, how does he fight an ever growing and continually evolving sexual and romantic attraction to someone he would never guess, and who, additionally, is the girl’s own choice?

There lies the problem for Littlefinger…

…Here, Sansa thinks of the kiss as if it had been wanted by both: she says first that she kissed the Hound, and then says he kissed her; which sounds like she imagines it as mutually desired, and, interestingly, she puts her desire first…

…In sum, it looks like the bolder Littlefinger becomes in his advances, the more explicit and more full-fledged Sansa’s own private romantic thoughts, desire for and fantasising with another man become, which is ironic given that she is being groomed to respond to her captor. That’s what her shield consists of: choosing the recipient of such thoughts, choosing whom she desires to be kissed by and loved by and have in her bed, instead of letting the groomer decide who it should be.

& finally to conclude, some brief thoughts on Lyanna Stark’s great post on Tyrion & Sansa:

I think you sum up perfectly what I think of Tyrion and Sansa’s marriage in these quotes:

Further, what stands out is that Tyrion doesn't understand Sansa and has a poor grasp on Sansa the person.”

“Sansa, despite being Tyrion's wife, has less impact on him than many other characters. In ADWD he thinks of Sansa only one or two times, and he's quite bitter about their marriage. So in a sense, it reflects that Tyrion never knew Sansa_the_person, but that the main emphasis for Tyrion was how their marriage tied into his dynamic with Tywin and Tysha, plus to a lesser degree Shae.”

“Regarding Sansa’s and Tyrion’s interactions, they are characterized by awkwardness, inability to connect and lack of trust and honesty. They do not trust each other and even if they can recognize that they are not each other’s worst enemy, to Sansa Tyrion always remains a Lannister, and to Tyrion, Sansa’s gaze always pins him as a dwarf, and a Lannister. Her courtesy keeps him at arm’s length and he cannot break through the ice.”

“Sansa’s and Tyrion’s marriage is not dissolved, but they are as of ADWD on different continents and both in severe peril. Considering that they are married, they spend very little time thinking of each other. Tyrion only briefly thinks of Sansa, and Sansa thinks only briefly on Tyrion after she flees Kings Landing. While she acknowledges that Tyrion didn’t treat her badly, she is also clear that she does not wish to be married to him.”

“How this will impact their future interactions is unclear, but from Tyrion’s and Sansa’s interactions so far, I think we can safely infer that Sansa has learnt more about Tyrion than he has learnt about Sansa.”

I always remember that during her marriage to Tyrion, we get no chapters from Sansa’s POV. I may be wrong but I’m deciding to consider this as George taking Sansa’s voice away for this particular period of time for a reason. Tet that underlined bit at the end, I liked it because it shows I think an aspect of Sansa’s character which (not only has she been developing out of necessity ever since Ned was killed) but which she is being encouraged to continue now that she is being lectured in the game by LF.

Tyrion didn’t learn that much about Sansa, and as we know doesn’t think much of her in Dance, yet Sansa has been quietly observing and learning from important pieces like Cersei, Olenna Tyrell, Tyrion, and now LF.

I think we can safely infer that Sansa has learnt more about Tyrion than he has learnt about Sansa,” could end up meaning as well what Sansa learned from Tyrion regarding playing the game, for I think that her future involves before the books end a lot of politics, so if we just wait a bit longer we may end up seeing how Sansa puts into action what she learned from the people I mentioned above.

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Nice song selection Old Growth! The sentiment is quite appropriate.

@Caro - good to have your thoughts on the presentations :)

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Tyrion and Sansa III - The Personal and the Political are Married

I promised you some thoughts on Tyrion and Sansa as a couple and why it's not always apparent at first sight why it's a bad idea. Brought on by the following post, which I think echoes my own views from my first read through (in 2000, yep, it's that long ago). And then came the multiple re-reads and another pattern started to emerge. :)

I actually really, really liked the idea of Sansa & Tyrion married. I thought that Sansa's plot arc, for the first three books, was pretty crisp--she was learning to see beyond appearances. Thanks to Joffrey, and then the Hound, she had it hammered home again and again that a pretty surface can hide a hideous character.

I thought that her arc would complete, in a satisfying way, if she could find a way to see Tyrion's worth. To look past his appearance and appreciate him.

For Tyrion--he really is needy, and Sansa is right to think of him like a hungry child. His craving for a woman's affection and love is warped, at this point, by years of self-loathing and delusion, of the sort he engages in with Shae. But I thought he did a good job of trying to put himself in Sansa's place, and trying to see to her needs.

I really thought, if the books had gone in a different direction, that they could have been an amazing couple. It was one of the threads I was saddest to see snap.

First, welcome to the forums Albertine and thank you for posting your views as they work as a great springboard to what I meant to write. I think your views are very common for "newer" readers who have not yet delved into all the political layers of ASOIAF, of which there are many.

Your point about Sansa looking past appearances is spot on, and you might say it ties into her growth of seeing past "true knights" and that they are false, and that pretty people aren't always good people. However, Sansa has also learnt something more integral to the role of noble women and of how society works, and what it is "selling" her that she should not buy, so to speak. That is the role she would be forced into as a highborn lady trained by a Septa: a talking "little bird", as it were. Sandor Clegane spoke true the first time they really talked, Sansa was like a little trained bird, repeating everything that was told her without critical thinking or obstinacy.

When her father's head comes off, she is starting the process of seeing something more important: that she is trained to be a pretty ornament spouting courtesies with no agency on her own. Her status as a hostage really hammers home Sansa's powerlessness and that she lacks training in politics. While she quickly learns to read people better than most, she still lacks the overall knowledge to place information in its context and to make informed plans and decisions based on that.

With that introduction, let us move on to taking a closer look at the politics and psychological motivators surrounding the marriage between Tyrion Lannister and Sansa Stark.

The politics of marriage

In Westeros, marriages are politics. Through marriage, alliances are made, or at least attempted. Marrying a person of the "wrong" status can being dishonour to a family, at least according the more prickly lords even a small step down in status cannot be accepted. Duncan Targaryen (Duncan the Small) allegedly had to abdicate as crown prince due his love for Jenny of Oldstones, because Jenny was a commoner and not queen material. While marriages are arranged, they are often made in such a way as to at least be fairly agreeable to both parties. We see Lady Waynwood insisting that Harold Hardyng not marry a girl he doesn't like, and Ned wanted to find someone brave, gentle and strong for Sansa. Despite the strong paternalistic structures, a lot of families care about how their daughters will fare in marriage. Some don't though, and barter their daughters for wealth, status or vengeance. Then at the far end of the spectrum, we have the marriages were the bride (and sometimes her family) has no say in the matter, and the marriage is more like an act of warfare than a wish for alliance.

Sansa finds herself in the middle of the politics of marriage, for which she is woefully unprepared. Her whole life she has been fed tales of chivalry, she has read romance novels and comes to Kings Landing with a view of marriage that is an extremely poor fit with reality.

She comes to realise that even Willas Tyrell down in pretty, flowery Highgarden, while a way out, is also another marriage where Sansa the person is not worth anything and completely irrelevant. What matters to the players in the Game of Thrones is her birth and her status as a way to Winterfell; to power, to land. Secondly, she is a pretty face glued onto that claim. What Sansa wants, what she likes, how she'd like to live are irrelevant things to them, but of course not to Sansa herself. To her, that is the most important thing.

Enter her marriage to Tyrion. Tyrion, before agreeing to marry Sansa (and make no mistake, he did agree and he did have a choice, albeit perhaps a somewhat unpleasant choice, he might have ended up married to Lollys after all, or perhaps he would have had to join the Citadel, or maybe Tywin would have been really irritated and not spoken with him again, like Tywin did with Jaime) had not spent much time pondering her, apart from as a pretty face that needed to stay alive as her death would mean Jaime's death. For certain, he did not wish to see her tortured and was the only person at court who could stop Joffrey's follies in this regard. We also see later that other people thought the treatment of Sansa was horrible, but only Tyrion had the political clout to stop it.

Hence to Tyrion, Sansa was a pretty face with huge tracts of land attached to her. But she was also an underage hostage whose family his own was at war with, and he could be fairly certain that Sansa, this girl he did not know, very likely would not welcome being married to him. In this, Tyrion also knew that he married Sansa very much against her will, anything else would be extreme self deception. What is worse, to gain Winterfell through Sansa, Tyrion needed most of all for Robb to die, otherwise Sansa could not inherit. Further, Robb made a good point in ASOS Catelyn V:

"Why do you lie to yourself? Arya's gone, the same as Bran and Rickon, and they'll kill Sansa too once the dwarf gets a child from her. Jon is the only brother that remains to me."

Robb is not the most astute politician, but here he makes a good point since once Tyrion has a child with Sansa, she can and almost needs to be removed. Should Tyrion go to the north with Sansa in tow, he is a Lannister impostor and Sansa a Stark, and likely the Northmen would arrange for a divorce by axe, as someone put it a while back. Tywin is no green boy, he as definitely figured this out as well, which means that Sansa would in a Lannister marriage, first be a hostage in the south forever, to be always divorced from her family and home land, and secondly to be put down if there was any risk that the north would rise to fight for her Lannister-free claim and to rid the Stark line of Lannisters.

Hence Tyrion's marriage to Sansa was, politically speaking, an act of war. Tyrion, as a politically very astute man, knew this, even if he did not outright admit it to himself. He was offered Winterfell and Sansa Stark, a seat he could only get over the bodies of Sansa's dead family and Sansa herself, a girl he knew didn't want him, nor anything to do with a member of the Lannister family. Further, he does consider what even Robb, the very inexperienced politician, manages on his own: that claiming the north through Sansa would mean confining Sansa to the south forever, and possibly also to have her murdered to keep a hold on that claim. While Tyrion is busy focusing on that a keep and land would be good for him, since he would get away from Kings Landing (given the political realities and that Tywin had given the North to Roose Bolton nothing he could hope to get any time soon) he ignores that the price that had to be paid for that to happen would be a price of blood, pain and tragedy for Sansa and the Starks.

Further, as Greensleeves touched upon above, marrying Sansa puts a big, fat target on your forehead. Sansa is as far as everyone knows as of ASOS the heir to Winterfell, if we disregard the temporary Bolton rule, which nobody seems to think will last. Tyrion knows the Tyrells had designs on Sansa, and he also knows Littlefinger is involved somehow, as he was the one who brought word to Tywin about the Tyrell's designs. Theon also expresses some thoughts that a marriage to Sansa would be advantageous for him and a way to legitimise a claim to Winterfell. Tyrion also disregarded that he raised the ire of every lord in the North and the Riverlands by forcefully wedding Eddard Stark's and Catelyn Tully's daughter.

The Tyrells and Littlefinger also worked together to murder Joffrey and had no problems framing Tyrion for the murder. Both the Tyrells and Littlefinger probably hoped to get their mitts on Sansa afterwards, although Baelish got there before the Tyrells. As Tyrion came to realise, without Sansa, a heir by her and through her, a claim to the North, even his own father was prepared to throw him under the bus. While arguably Tyrion could not have seen Tywin's utter disregard for him, his political astuteness should have made him realise that Sansa was too valuable a piece not to be contended.

Tyrion's issues and how they prevent him from being a good fit for Sansa

During a first read, a lot of people, including myself, thought it was a shame that Sansa and Tyrion did not get along better. A lot of people were also upset that Sansa did not love Tyrion, and did not see his qualities. I'll attempt to split this topic into two parts. The first will deal with Tyrion and what makes him a poor fit for Sansa and the second will focus on Sansa herself, and what she wants out of her marriage and her life. The Tyrion part will contain a few points that are abbreviated versions of the excellent discussions in the Tyrion re-read threads.

Tyrion is one of the most, if not the most, psychologically complex character in ASOIAF. He is a dwarf born into a strongly dysfunctional family and the only person in his family he has a bond of love to is his brother Jaime. As it happens, the same goes for the other living members of the major Lannister house: Cersei and Tywin. They all love Jaime, but cannot stand any other member of their family. Tyrion's relationship to Tywin especially has had a huge impact on his life, and he constantly strives to please Tywin to gain some emotional connection with his father, even if he on the logical plane knows that is impossible. Tywin is also the architect behind Tyrion's perhaps worst memory, where Tywin, following the Westeros politics of marriage, gets furious with Tyrion for marrying a commoner for love, which is far below his status, and engineers a nightmare scenario where the poor girl gets gang raped as her "punishment" for daring to even consider marrying someone so far above her. Tyrion is coerced to participate by Tywin, who motivates it with that Tysha, the girl, was actually a whore, and that according to the politics of marriage, deserved it. Tywin also knows that Tyrion yearns for love, and portraying Tysha as someone who only pretended to love Tyrion hurts Tyrion where he is at his most vulnerable. And so Tyrion was made to rape and defile that which he loved most and had sworn to protect.

Obviously, this has caused Tyrion to have psychological scars. To further add to his emotional baggage, Tyrion's mother died while giving birth to him, and apart from Tysha, who he violated when Tywin said so, he has never known love, friendship or tenderness from a woman. We also see that Tyrion has perhaps unwittingly accepted parts of Tywin's view on Westeros marriage politics, since Tyrion himself justifies the actions against Tysha with that she was a prostitute and a liar.

Further, at the time he marries Sansa, Tyrion also has an ongoing affair with the prostitute Shae. Shae pretends to love Tyrion and often acts as his girlfriend. Tyrion himself oscillates between feelings of love and being ashamed of the fact that he can love a whore. He channels Tywin quite often when he wonders how a prostitute like Shae can look "so pure", but then he soon turns and projects his strong yearning for love on her, and he disregards any warning signs that Shae pretends to love him, for money.

Thus comes Tyrion to the marriage with Sansa. A man with severe emotional hang-ups, a tendency to project his own needs on young women and also, behind it all, looms the huge spectre of Tysha and Tywin.

And so it comes to pass that Tyrion is talked into another situation where he needs to violate a young girl, again. Tywin is behind it, again. Of course, we know that Tyrion eventually stages his own small rebellion against Tywin, in that he refuses to commit to another Tysha scenario.

The fact of the matter is though, Tyrion enters the marriage from a position of selfishness. He sees a claim to Winterfell, a pretty wife, a keep of his own, status and wealth and perhaps most importantly: a way to escape Tywin, while at the same time doing what Tywin wants him to do and get Tywin's recognition, in gaining the North for the Lannisters, and marrying a very highborn and very pretty woman. So to Tyrion, the Sansa marriage is an ideal. The mighty keep, the pretty girl, the approval of the father.

But as we know, reality is different. In fact, it is as different as Sansa's dreams of pretty princes and True knights and what she experiences in Kings Landing. Tyrion is just a bit more glib about the whole thing, but his self delusions are self delusions all the same. Sansa's eyes started to open for real when Ned was killed in front of her, and Tyrion's when he kills his father. Those are both points of no return.

What Sansa wants out of life and why Tyrion is a poor fit as a husband

If we move on to Sansa, and why Tyrion would be a poor fit for her, we have several threads converging to tip us off that this is the case.

Sansa learnt during her time in Kings Landing that appearances can be deceiving, but even more so, she learnt to carefully take into account what sort of person someone is, to make her own judgements about what the truth is, to not be trusting and maybe most of all, she realised that in the Game of Thrones, she is a pawn, a piece of flesh with a pretty face and a claim to Winterfell, to be fought over by scavengers. In essence, Sansa strongly comes to realise her powerlessness. In ACOK, Sansa is still learning and does not really understand the scope of what Cersei is telling her regarding highborn women's lot in life:

"Yet even so when Jaime was given his first sword, there was none for me 'What do I get?' I remember asking. We were so much alike, I could never understand why they treated us so differently. Jaime learned to fight with sword and lance and mace, while I was taught to smile and sing and please. He was heir to Casterly Rock, while I was to be sold to some stranger like a horse, to be ridden whenever my new owner liked, beaten whenever he liked, and cast aside in time for a younger filly. Jaime's lot was to be glory and power, while mine was birth and moonblood."

"But you were queen of all Seven Kingdoms," Sansa said.

"When it comes to swords, a queen is only a woman after all."

Of course, Cersei is not the most politically astute and has her issues to deal with, but she does point out something very valuable to Sansa: that highborn women are taught to smile and sing and please and to be someone's pretty wife and birth lots of children. And also that if they question this order of things, there are no good answers.

Sansa's Septa, Septa Mordane, did indeed work hard to teach Sansa to smile and sing and please and turn her into a "talking bird", to not object and to instead "buy" this strongly romanticised world view. In order to make women better accept an unattractive or unappealing husband, women also need to be motivated to hold on to the romanticised world view, hence the Septa taught Sansa that all men are beautiful.

If we for a moment take a short look at what Sansa wants out of a marriage, we can discern some patterns. Even when she has naive and rose tinted day dreams about Joffrey, there are certain things that she holds on to throughout, and those things are to have a family like her parents, with happy children and a husband she feels attraction and love towards. She obviously assumes that the family she will marry into will be on friendly terms with her own. Most likely, she is, like a lot of children tend to do, unconsciously modelling her own marriage dreams on what she saw of her own parents' marriage, which was an arranged match but where Ned and Cat came to respect and love each other deeply.

Hence Sansa is now in a position where she is married at swordpoint (Cersei threatens her before she walks to the Sept) to a man from a family she is at war with. On top of this, Sansa finds Tyrion extremely ugly and deeply unattractive. The most she can manage is pity. Nothing in this situation fits with how Sansa wanted her life or her marriage (or even her wedding) to pan out. While she recognises that Tyrion is definitely not Joffrey or Cersei and she is grateful he did not take her by force, the marriage makes her extremely miserable. So miserable in fact that she contemplates suicide. She does not hate Tyrion, but she hates what the marriage to him entails: that they made her a Lannister against her will.

Conclusion - A Marriage Made in Heaven Hell

What we can conclude from looking at the Sansa -Tyrion marriage is that it has two dimensions: the political and the personal***

From a political point of view, Tyrion's marriage to Sansa is an act of war, of conquest, of subjugation. In the Tyrion re-read, it was discussed as being part of Tywin's "Rains of Castemere" on the Tullys and the Starks. Further, Tyrion also knew, on some level, that it meant a cost in blood from Sansa's family while he doesn't consider the implications for Sansa, which the far more inexperienced Robb Stark grasps: at best, Sansa as Mrs Lannister will be forever condemned to a life as hostage in the south; at worst, she will be killed to eliminate her as a political pawn with a claim.

Further, marrying Sansa Stark set Tyrion up for his fall. The Tyrells and Littlefinger were still keen on Sansa as a piece in the game, and when removing Joffrey, Tyrion was a convenient fall guy, and Littlefinger expertly maneuvered to take Tyrion down. (Had Jaime not unexpectedly released Tyrion, Littlefinger would also have succeeded 100% in removing Tyrion permanently).

Regarding the personal, Tyrion has a strong yearning for love and wishes to be in a relationship with a woman who loves him back. Unfortunately for Tyrion in that regard, he is also Tywin's son, and Tywin has imprinted his own sharp lesson on Tyrion, who carries with him some heavy emotional baggage after the Tysha incident. Tyrion proceeds to project part of his needs and wants on Shae, and others on Sansa, but neither of these women can provide him with what he really wants: real love and Tywin's acceptance. Instead, Tyrion dithers, wallows and engages in self delusions. In the end, both his affair with Shae and his marriage to Sansa bring him only misery as predictably, neither can provide him with what he is after. Sansa's line about how Tyrion looks hungry for something and that she has nothing to give him is apt here, and appropriately describes why Sansa is wrong for Tyrion.

For Sansa, from a personal standpoint, Tyrion represents that which she has learnt to hate the most: the Lannisters. Her family's deaths and downfall are directly linked to the Lannisters, as is her abuse and the forced marriage into the family she has learnt to hate. In essence, the Lannisters have not only taken Sansa as their hostage, they are also by force trying to make her into that which she hates and she knows they wish to use her to strengthen their position against people she loves and cares for.

Further, she also realises that to add insult to injury, she finds Tyrion extremely unattractive and outright monstrously ugly. Even if she tried to push the fate of her family out of her mind and accept her inclusion into the Lannister clan as a "good lady", she cannot disregard the fact that she will never find Tyrion physically attractive.

By taking these things into account, it becomes clear why the Tyrion - Sansa marriage is a profoundly bad idea for both of them and why their personalities, their families and the political reality of Westeros make it extremely unlikely that it will ever make either of them happy, or even content. This was a wedding that was doomed before it even took place.

***Interesting considering Carol Hanisch's essay The personal is political which is described thusly on a online women's history resource: Her essay "The Personal Is Political" said that coming to a personal realization of how "grim" the situation was for women was as important as doing political "action" such as protests. Hanisch noted that "political" refers to any power relationships, not just those of government or elected officials.

Which is indeed rather fitting when we look at Sansa's arc.

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Hi everyone! I too am sorry that I have been AWOL for a few weeks. I've been trying to keep up as much as possible on my phone with all the great essays that have been posted of late. Finally today I had some time at my computer to comment on a few things, but I am not caught up with all the essays yet.

Thanks, Brashcandy. I'd like to elaborate a little more on the topic of this as emotional shield, if you will.

In the last quote, we can see that Sansa says again that it was he who kissed her, which could be revealing an unconscious wish that it’d happened. So, by the time she is about to be told of her captor and groomer’s plans to marry her off again, she names her husband but immediately unites her dream of Sandor replacing Tyrion in the marriage bed and the UnKiss in the same conscious thought. And again, she “remembers” the kiss and the dream of the Hound in her bed whilst she’s in the skin of Sansa but being referred to and posing as Alayne. Both are part of her present, not just her past, and the confluence of the UnKiss and the dream indicates that it’s not the last time we read about this, for both might reappear in her future chapters at the Gates of the Moon, for in her last chapter she promised Randa Royce to sleep in her bedchamber that night of their arrival, and it’s likely that her talk will have a similar effect, prompting her to develop those thoughts further, more so now that she knows there’s another unwanted marriage plan for her.

In sum, it looks like the bolder Littlefinger becomes in his advances, the more explicit and more full-fledged Sansa’s own private romantic thoughts, desire for and fantasising with another man become, which is ironic given that she is being groomed to respond to her captor. That’s what her shield consists of: choosing the recipient of such thoughts, choosing whom she desires to be kissed by and loved by and have in her bed, instead of letting the groomer decide who it should be.

Great explanation Milady! This really makes clear just why the unkiss is so important for Sansa and a positive thing. I just checked the "my contents" page and I see that the thread on the "Unkiss" is active again. After glancing through the comments on the last page or so it really is obvious that many people think the unkiss is a bad sign and unhealthy for Sansa to be making this fantasy from a situation which appeared to pose a danger to her when the Hound held a knife to her throat, but this essay shows why it is just not so and it is helping to protect her.

The rest, has more to do with Tyrion's relationship with his family than with Sansa; The more he realises that his loyalty to his family is not really reciprocal, that he will actually be in serious danger, the less he's willing to use her and harm her, the more guilt is added to his feelings for her, and, by the time of Joffery's wedding, I think he genuinly wants to protect her (not necessarily expecting sex in return). Again, not because she's Sansa, but for what she respresents.

This story is over, IMO. There is nothing pending between them, apart a formal end of their marriage. There is no need to even interact ever again, as they 've been nothing more for each other than plot advancers.

Nice post Shadowcat. The part that I bolded is spot on and explains in a nutshell just what it is that Tyrion was hoping to get out of his marriage to Sansa. It was the idea of a happy little loving wife living in a comfy cottage with a white picket fence that he was after. The sad part about it is that it is a lovely vision and one that we would want for anybody but given the reality of the circumstances they were in it could never be that way. In fact, the more Tyrion acted like a Lannister, the further away from that dream he would get.

Can't wait to read the rest of the thread. Hopefully I'll be back soon with more comments. Keep up the great work all!

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Loved your essay Milady. Your explanation on grooming also seems to fit Littlefinger to a T. :)

As the boy’s lips touched her own
she found herself thinking of another kiss. She could still remember how it felt, when his cruel mouth pressed down on her own
. He had come to Sansa in the darkness as green fire filled the sky.
He took a song and a kiss, and left me nothing but a bloody cloak.

And in the second part, she’s in the skin of Sansa, feeling it as real like Sansa. In other words, her fantasising with Loras is in the past and is unfit for a lowborn girl like the one she’s pretending to be, but the other man is still present as part of her memories and, curiously, this time she says it was he who kissed her, rather took the kiss and then left, which sounds funnily like a woman resentful of being abandoned by a lover; and considering that during the scene that originated this she’d mistakenly believed he was about to kiss her and was prepared to endure it, her thoughts are revealing.

She once more thinks of him in her last chapter in AFFC:

“You do know what goes on in a marriage bed, I hope?”

She thought of Tyrion, and of the Hound and how he’d kissed her,
and gave a nod.

In the last quote, we can see that Sansa says again that it was he who kissed her, which could be revealing an unconscious wish that it’d happened.

I remember finding Sansa's straight forward thinking here surprising when I first read AFFC. Previously, most of her replacements of Tyrion and Loras with Sandor have been subtle and maybe even somewhat ambiguous, yet here she really comes straight out and tells it as it is. Perhaps this is a choice made by the author to highlight the fact that Sansa is shielded from Littlefinger's advances just due to this fact that this space that he covets is already taken.

Here we see that although Sansa acknowledges Brune's rather homely way of dressing, in contrast to what a "proper knight" would wear, her real focus is on the quiet strength that he displays, which she clearly appreciates. He may have been recently knighted, but it does not prove his worth in Sansa's estimation.

I like this. It's also interesting in light of the "floppy ears" discussion and how the trappings of power are so important to people like Tywin: their power is at least part mummery. Sansa used to be impressed by all the gallant knights with their fancy gear, hence why it's so illuminating that she chooses to focus on Brune's quiet strength after simply noting that he does not dress to impress, especially keeping in mind how she viewed the contestants at the Hand's tourney in AGOT. Sansa is now able to see past the trappings of power, you might say.

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Further, she also realises that to add insult to injury, she finds Tyrion extremely unattractive and outright monstrously ugly. Even if she tried to push the fate of her family out of her mind and accept her inclusion into the Lannister clan as a "good lady", she cannot disregard the fact that she will never find Tyrion physically attractive.

Wonderful Part 3, Lyanna :) As you noted, a lot of readers struggle with the idea that a person can appreciate someone's inner qualities, find them perfectly nice/considerate/gentle and all that, and still not want them as a romantic partner. Sansa has to learnt see beneath appearances, but it doesn't mean she should find Tyrion appealing as a result.

Great explanation Milady! This really makes clear just why the unkiss is so important for Sansa and a positive thing. I just checked the "my contents" page and I see that the thread on the "Unkiss" is active again. After glancing through the comments on the last page or so it really is obvious that many people think the unkiss is a bad sign and unhealthy for Sansa to be making this fantasy from a situation which appeared to pose a danger to her when the Hound held a knife to her throat, but this essay shows why it is just not so and it is helping to protect her.

Indeed. I don't think Martin has ever portrayed the unkiss as a "bad" memory for Sansa as it develops throughout the story. Even when she thinks somewhat bitterly of it in AFFC, it's obviously due to a sense of abandonment rather than regret over the kiss itself. And as a motif it's connected to the theme of agency in her arc, and functions nicely as an "invisible" thread linking her new identity to the old one.

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How clever of you! I hadn’t even thought of that. Now that you mention it, it’s also interesting on a symbolic level. The armour, the shield and the sword are essential components of a knight’s equipment together with the helmet and the horse. It’s like Sansa were slowly and symbolically collecting the different items of her own knight’s equipment.

WOW I love posts and threads that set us all thinking in the abstract. Thank you all!

The thought of a ladies courtesy being Sansa's armour and the fact that armour is literally used as defense. Might Sansa now go about seeking weapons for the offensive use? To me Sansa has always seem too timid to the point of annoyance.To watch the underdog give the antagonist their comeuppance has always been a favorite fantasy trope. Knowing how slippery GRRM is, I can't wait to see this realized.I can picture the look on LG 's face when he is out maneuvered by a girl who he thought helpless.The thought hits me as hard as Robert's warhammer!edited out watchmaker for war hammer lol.

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To be honest, I tend to think that Tyrion's decision to not go through with the consummation had far more to do with his unwillingness to toe Tywin's line and to further injure Sansa because Tywin said so. In this instance, Tyrion chose what was right over the Lannister cause for maybe the first time since Tysha. Tysha went totally against the Lannister cause for glory and power, and in refusing to consummate the marriage, Tyrion takes a stand against Tywin.

Sansa's complete rejection of him is another thing, somewhat divorced from this, but tied into the fact that Tyrion craves to be loved, and Sansa will not and cannot give that to him (I was going to elaborate on this in the reserved post :) ). Forcing her to submit to him and to forcibly consummate the marriage would have caused violence to Sansa, but also violence on what he wishes the most for himself: to be loved. Which he did in the extreme with Tysha, at Tywin's command.

Yes Tyrion's needs not only too be loved but also his need to be understood drives him.

These feeling lead to him deceiving himself into believing Shae really love him,even as his massive intellect tells himself Shae is a who're and she is paid to act as though it's love.

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WOW I love posts and threads that set us all thinking in the abstract. Thank you all!

The thought of a ladies courtesy being Sansa's armour and the fact that armour is literally used as defense. Might Sansa now go about seeking weapons for the offensive use? To me Sansa has always seem too timid to the point of annoyance.To watch the underdog give the antagonist their comeuppance has always been a favorite fantasy trope. Knowing how slippery GRRM is, I can't wait to see this realized.I can picture the look on LG 's face when he is out maneuvered by a girl who he thought helpless.The thought hits me as hard as Robert's warhammer!edited out watchmaker for war hammer lol.

Welcome to the Pawn to Player threads. :)

If you enjoy these ones, you may also want to have a look at the Tyrion re-read thread(s), the Jon re-read thread(s), Learning to Lead - Jon and Dany in ADWD and the Arya re-read thread(s). They are all run in the same vein, to provide an opportunity for critical analysis of the characters and their individual stories.

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Lyanna, before everything, let me say that the part III of Sansa/tyrion relationship was exceptional piece of work. I have to say that this is one of the most concise, insightful and beautiful analysis about this pair I have ever read.

Now, I will just say couple of words about endless question: Will Sansa see pass Tyrion's ugliness and see his kindness? This question has been asked ad nauseum, and is always connected with Sansa's emotional and political growth. By definition, Sansa would be more mature, if she would see how good and kind Tyrion was to her. She would benefit from the fact that he is one of the rare good men in the world. But, sometimes in that discussion about Sansa's maturity, we forget that she was ready to forget his dwarfism and disfigured face, just like she did with Sandor (only in less romantic way), but the one thing she could have never forgotten is who he is - Lannister. And everything begins and ends with that when these two are in question. Sansa was ready to marry crippled Willas, she made connection with Lollys, Sweetrobin, Sandor and Dontos. Sansa is capable to connect with ''cripples, bastards and broken things'', only for her Tyrion was never that. He was a Lannister. And when we talk about Sansa's emotional growth, that's one proof we don't need to see. For she has already proven to be empathic person with ability to see people as who they are. And she even recognized Tyrion as kinder type of Lannister.

Now as for political and personal in this marriage. I have to say this division and wonderful points Lyanna raised serves perfectly for debate about these two. About the politics and marriages, I often use Henry VII reference, but this time I'll use story closer to my homeland. It's historical story about King Nicholas I of Montenegro, who had 12 children, of which 9 were daughters. 2 of them died in childbirth, and 2 never get married, but the other 5 became well known across the Europe. Two became Queens, Jelena became last Queen of Italy and Zorka Queen of Serbia, and 2 of his daughters Stana and Milica married to Grand Dukes of Romanovs, and Anna married to Prince of Battenberg. Due to these connections, he was reffered as 'father-in-law of Europe'. Needless to say, the point of this long, excessive story is that weddings are powerful political tool used since the dawn of civilization. Arranged marriages, as Lyanna pointed out, had at least some sort of match-making, and it wasn't done completely without consent. But the difference between these arranged marriages and what happened with Tyrion and Sansa is huge. Without a choice,a nd under threat of death, Sansa was brought in front of Tyrion like a Renly's peach, Political smartness behind this is undeniable. Where Robb failed to see the chance, Tywin and Tyrells didn't and they were all ready to use Sansa in machinations of their own. Tywin closed the deal, ensuring his control over North, and making Roose quite expendable. Sansa in terms of political alliance is seen as great reward, and there are no those who can deny that. Politically, this marriage was slam dunk, but then we have that small level that ruined everything - personal one. And that's where all the politics were useless.

But then, with conclusion how this marriage is futile, we now have to argue its purpose. What actually GRRM wanted to achieve with this? Certainly, it wasn't about either of them because they separated pretty quickly. My own POV about this is that this was never about Sansa and Tyrion, but about Jon. By marrying Sansa to Lannisters, with false knowledge Bran and Rickon are dead, he opened a way for Jon to become KitN, and legitimized Stark. But above that, without Robb's will, we can also argue how far he went in cutting Sansa off. Was it just pure statement that she loses every right and claim on Winterfell, or did he disinherit her completely making her an outcast. We argued once that Robb's will may be Sansa's ticket to liberty and chains of arranged marriages. For whatever are the reasons, the clear cut about her marriage Sansa made, proves only that marriage had some other meaning, and it has nothing with Sansa's growth or emotional maturity.

Lyanna, once more, this was incredible essay, and I complement you for this amazing post... Really well done...

And now, after all of this jibber jabbinng, I am done for the night :)

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But then, with conclusion how this marriage is futile, we now have to argue its purpose. What actually GRRM wanted to achieve with this? Certainly, it wasn't about either of them because they separated pretty quickly. My own POV about this is that this was never about Sansa and Tyrion, but about Jon. By marrying Sansa to Lannisters, with false knowledge Bran and Rickon are dead, he opened a way for Jon to become KitN, and legitimized Stark. But above that, without Robb's will, we can also argue how far he went in cutting Sansa off. Was it just pure statement that she loses every right and claim on Winterfell, or did he disinherit her completely making her an outcast. We argued once that Robb's will may be Sansa's ticket to liberty and chains of arranged marriages. For whatever are the reasons, the clear cut about her marriage Sansa made, proves only that marriage had some other meaning, and it has nothing with Sansa's growth or emotional maturity.

I strongly disagree that the marriage was about Jon. We don't know his path to kingship, or even if he will become one at all (and Stannis was willing to make him a Stark and Lord of Winterfell irrespective of Robb's will). Furthermore, to make this about Jon diminishes the gravity of this experience for Sansa. Although they separated quickly and had no genuine feelings for each other, the marriage served to explore some wretched issues with respect to Tyrion's relationships with women and his father (the Tysha redux), and enabled Sansa to critically understand the powerlessness that women experience in these kinds of exploitative arrangements, and more importantly, to rebel against such. It's important for her personal growth, and will likely have far-reaching political consequences, involving lots of characters, but ultimately this is about Sansa, and the decisions that she will make.

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...

Really wonderful third part to your essay series, Lyanna! You did a great job of dissecting why the marriage doesn't make sense for either of them. I have a feeling I'll be referring to this in the future.

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I strongly disagree that the marriage was about Jon. We don't know his path to kingship, or even if he will become one at all (and Stannis was willing to make him a Stark and Lord of Winterfell irrespective of Robb's will). Furthermore, to make this about Jon diminishes the gravity of this experience for Sansa. Although they separated quickly and had no genuine feelings for each other, the marriage served to explore some wretched issues with respect to Tyrion's relationships with women and his father (the Tysha redux), and enabled Sansa to critically understand the powerlessness that women experience in these kinds of exploitative arrangements, and more importantly, to rebel against such. It's important for her personal growth, and will likely have far-reaching political consequences, involving lots of characters, but ultimately this is about Sansa, and the decisions that she will make.

My point is that without the marriage, there would be no will, and there would be no possibility or even idea Jon to inherit position of KitN. This was always one of the most serious consequences of this marriage. As for Sansa, this marriage brought a great new deal of suffering, but I wouldn't go that far to say she through it understood her powerlessness as a woman better. She was well aware she was powerless when Dontos revealed her entire Willas plan, and even before when she realized she will be held hostage even after her engagements to Joffrey are broken off. Also, I am not reducing gravity of it for Sansa. For now, we are not even sure to what extent Robb disinherited her, and what role will that have in the future books. And not just that. I get how important this marriage is for Tyrion, and I know what it means for Sansa. Only, that I think that whatever lesson she learnt during the marriage, she has been learning way before. The marriage as a plot device served to introduce Jon in hereditary line, but also for Tyrion, as you said, to rebel against his father. For Sansa, it was just icing of very tragic cake Lannisters served her while she is in KL. Sans weddind and bedding, who became quite important moment for Sansa, and her ''positioning as Stark'' once again through subtle ways, I think that the marriage was for her yet another trial she had to endure. For me, and I have already talked about this, this marriage is like cancer in its worst form. It takes everything from you, you can fight it on quite useless and dubious ways, and it will eventually come back. Sansa isn't free, and that marriage will haunt her, but for me all lessons she learnt in the marriage are just conclusion of the path she has been on for book and the half.

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Lyanna, before everything, let me say that the part III of Sansa/tyrion relationship was exceptional piece of work. I have to say that this is one of the most concise, insightful and beautiful analysis about this pair I have ever read.

Now, I will just say couple of words about endless question: Will Sansa see pass Tyrion's ugliness and see his kindness? This question has been asked ad nauseum, and is always connected with Sansa's emotional and political growth. By definition, Sansa would be more mature, if she would see how good and kind Tyrion was to her. She would benefit from the fact that he is one of the rare good men in the world. But, sometimes in that discussion about Sansa's maturity, we forget that she was ready to forget his dwarfism and disfigured face, just like she did with Sandor (only in less romantic way), but the one thing she could have never forgotten is who he is - Lannister. And everything begins and ends with that when these two are in question.

I think this question is not really posed correctly. Let me try to explain. :)

Sansa is able to appreciate the small kindnesses Tyrion is able to give her and she certainly does appreciate that he is not Cersei or Joffrey. However, what Tyrion doesn't understand is that this is not connected to his looks. Sansa has learnt that beautiful people aren't necessarily good. Sandor, Tyrion and Dontos are all examples of people who extended gestures of kindness and normal human decency towards her, and she can see that once the veil is ripped from her eyes wrt knights, gallantry and southern courtesy.

Tyrion's ugliness is something that prevents her from feeling any sort of attraction to him what so ever. Here his dwarfism plays a large part, of course, although we see that compared to Robin Arryn, she would prefer both Tyrion and Joffrey (but then it's rather a race to the bottom if you compare Joffrey and Sweetrobin).

Hence I don't think Sansa needs to see past any ugliness and appreciate Tyrion's kindness. She already appreciates them, but his ugliness remains. She was in no way ready to ignore his ugliness, in fact she thinks the Gods must be cruel to inflict a man as ugly as Tyrion on her. She can see nothing beautiful in him at all. I don't think finding Tyrion beautiful is a sign of maturity either, more like self deception.

I'd also strongly disagree with the premise that Tyrion is one of the few good men in the world. He has his own agenda, which in ACOK is completely at cross purposes with Sansa's and for most of ASOS remains so. His moral compass points towards Casterly Rock and until mid ASOS he s also most definitely letting himself sitting squarely under Tywin's boot.

Really wonderful third part to your essay series, Lyanna! You did a great job of dissecting why the marriage doesn't make sense for either of them. I have a feeling I'll be referring to this in the future.

I'm glad you liked it. :) I thought we needed a comprehensive source for why the Sansa - Tyrion marriage is, in fact, a very bad idea.

There were a couple of things I left out on purpose, since it's more about the meta level and the reader's preconception and cultural conditioning. In short, that we are conditioned to think that the underdog hero deserves the pretty girl, because this is how a lot of stories are constructed. The girl, in this case Sansa, is a reward for the hero for being heroic and doing Good Things ™. She rarely has much personality, is often a Damsel in Distress and often fulfill the Madonna trope (madonna vs whore, and with Shae as the actual whore, well, Sansa gets to occupy the opposite position).

These tropes are so pervasive that people get surprised and sometimes upset when they are not followed.

The tropes also draw the reader into accepting a very male centred narrative: the male hero is the centre piece and his adventures, wishes and actions drive the story. We, the readers, are made to identify with a male character the most and to accept that viewpoint as the most important one. Tyrion's POVs are extremely subtle in this way as Tyrion does some truly terrible things, but due to us readers being inside his head and reading his POV, we buy the justifications for his actions. It's a bit insidious how the POV structure influences our understanding, but also one of the great charms of ASOIAF. It definitely adds an extra layer to unfold, and I also believe that GRRM is aware of the tropes, and is twisting them around and around.

We also have very few Fantasy novel with a female protagonist. Women are allowed to be the feisty sidekick or the bookish adviser, but rarely to play the main role. This adds to our cultural conditioning that women aren't heroes, they are sidekicks to the hero and should join him in his quest.

Hence when we are faced with the Tyrion - Sansa marriage, Tyrion wishes for it to work, he yearns for love, and he is attracted to Sansa - we automatically assume, based on cultural conditioning, that is SHOULD work. After all, that is how the tropes work. They tell us it ought to work, that Tyrion, as he is by many seen as a hero character and here is in a marriage to a pretty girl, then if she can't love him as the damsel in distress ought to do the male hero, why Sansa is the one in the wrong. She is then the one who needs to "get over herself" as Sansa is the trope breaker.

So in short, Tyrion, when he desires to be loved and wishes the marriage to work, follows the trope; while Sansa breaks it by not automatically meeting the hero's demand when she does not want him.

Of course, as critical readers, we can then discern that Sansa as an autonomous character has no reason to love Tyrion, since he is a member of the enemy clan, he's ugly and he agreed to marry her knowing full well she wasn't willing. These three things cannot be outdone by his acts of kindness towards her as they are huge, life changing factors that helped destroy her life.

To come full circle, this is also why I think the question in Mladen's post is the wrong question to ask. :) It assumes that Sansa will submit to the trope, the only questions are the when and the how. Asking that question in the first place completely disregards that Sansa is the hero of her own story. In her mind, she is not "Tyrion's pretty sidekick" but her own person with her own independent wishes and desires. And thus, the trope is broken!

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Also, if you lovely people are interested in continuing the fan discussions in RL, the thread for LonCon 2014 is now up! If you are already a member, add your name to the list of attendees. :)

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I think this question is not really posed correctly. Let me try to explain. :)

Sansa is able to appreciate the small kindnesses Tyrion is able to give her and she certainly does appreciate that he is not Cersei or Joffrey. However, what Tyrion doesn't understand is that this is not connected to his looks. Sansa has learnt that beautiful people aren't necessarily good. Sandor, Tyrion and Dontos are all examples of people who extended gestures of kindness and normal human decency towards her, and she can see that once the veil is ripped from her eyes wrt knights, gallantry and southern courtesy.

Tyrion's ugliness is something that prevents her from feeling any sort of attraction to him what so ever. Here his dwarfism plays a large part, of course, although we see that compared to Robin Arryn, she would prefer both Tyrion and Joffrey (but then it's rather a race to the bottom if you compare Joffrey and Sweetrobin).

Hence I don't think Sansa needs to see past any ugliness and appreciate Tyrion's kindness. She already appreciates them, but his ugliness remains. She was in no way ready to ignore his ugliness, in fact she thinks the Gods must be cruel to inflict a man as ugly as Tyrion on her. She can see nothing beautiful in him at all. I don't think finding Tyrion beautiful is a sign of maturity either, more like self deception.

I'd also strongly disagree with the premise that Tyrion is one of the few good men in the world. He has his own agenda, which in ACOK is completely at cross purposes with Sansa's and for most of ASOS remains so. His moral compass points towards Casterly Rock and until mid ASOS he s also most definitely letting himself sitting squarely under Tywin's boot.

Ok, some clarifications. That paragraph was about general question that is lurking around the forum for all this time, and it's that Sansa accepting Tyrion would be the sign of her maturity and ability to see beyond ugliness. The paragraph was more abput Albertine's post you quoted than about ideas you presented in the essay. Further more, I was directing to all those that believe that St. Tyrion is the best man for Sansa, given how kind he is. I think with all the show's differences, we got entirely new fandom who sees Tyrion as ultimate hero, and I was adressing to them. I completely agree with everything you said above, and I think you have a great point about seeing the acts of kindness.

We, the readers, are made to identify with a male character the most and to accept that viewpoint as the most important one.

We also have very few Fantasy novel with a female protagonist. Women are allowed to be the feisty sidekick or the bookish adviser, but rarely to play the main role. This adds to our cultural conditioning that women aren't heroes, they are sidekicks to the hero and should join him in his quest.

Then I can proudly say, I am a bit different. From Galadriel and Minerva McGonagall to Sansa, rare are the male characters in fantasy I like. Although, Dr Bashir made me become a doctor, but he doesn't count now :). You are right here, Lyanna. The perception is that hero is basically male figure, and that female characters sometimes only serve to be love interest, or adviser or just sidekick character. So, when we have especially likable character who even has author on his side, it's difficult not to cheer for him. In a way, Sansa/Tyrion represents another duo from literature POV - Konstantin Levin/Anna Karenina. And while you can feel how Tolstoy is cheering for Levin to find happiness, like we see Martin almost does with Tyrion, Sansa like Anna gets punished for 'her crimes'.

But then, as you wonderfully said, we have to acknowledge that Sansa is truly a heroine of her own storyarc, that she has agenda, that she is not living and breathing Renly's peach(I love this comparison, and I bet I will use it more :)) for the highest bidder, or the greatest hero. So, the question I asked isn't against Sansa (and I strongly reject any notion of that), but it's adresses to the particular POV that, with show's expansion has lots supporters.

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Ok, some clarifications. That paragraph was about general question that is lurking around the forum for all this time, and it's that Sansa accepting Tyrion would be the sign of her maturity and ability to see beyond ugliness. The paragraph was more abput Albertine's post you quoted than about ideas you presented in the essay. Further more, I was directing to all those that believe that St. Tyrion is the best man for Sansa, given how kind he is. I think with all the show's differences, we got entirely new fandom who sees Tyrion as ultimate hero, and I was adressing to them. I completely agree with everything you said above, and I think you have a great point about seeing the acts of kindness.

Sorry Mladen, I did not mean to infer that it was your view, just that the question you gave as an example is the wrong one to ask. :)

Unfortunately I think the show is doing a lot to fan the flames here as it has divorced itself a lot from the novels when it comes to Tyrion and added a couple of things that are downright illogical. It makes it harder for readers to see what's in the novels as opposed to a mixture of novels and show. To show watchers, it must be a complete mystery why Sansa doesn't fall for Tyrion, as opposed to novel readers who while tricked by Tyrion's POV into believing his self justifications, still stand a better chance at seeing Sansa's POV of things.

There is also the line of thought that because Tyrion is "good" he has somehow deserved love and it must be given to him. Sansa should see reason because Tyrion is "good", but as we know from real life, attraction and love are their own beasts and don't necessarily follow the rules of logic as the heart chooses what it wants and we can't really do a lot about it.

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