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Milady of York

From Pawn to Player: Rethinking Sansa XXI

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Very nice work Mahaut :) This is one of my favourite stories in the collection. I'll have more to say over the weekend, but I just wanted to underscore the fact that the protagonist marries a blind piano player, someone who literally cannot subject to her the kind of objectification she suffers under the Marquis's gaze. We've discussed before how "the look" is such an important element in Sansa's relationship with her suitors, and the discomfort she feels when LF looks at her is made clear throughout their interactions. This of course is contrasted with Sandor Clegane, who insists on Sansa looking at him, empowering her in the dynamic between them.

I'm glad you like it, Brashcandy :) . I think we can find that same empowering dynamic in the unkiss too. Sandor could have kissed Sansa, but feeling she doesn't want to, he doesn't. Unlike Littlefinger...

Mahaut, I was able to do a quick read at work and look forward to rereading it tonight when I have more time and freedom to really focus. I do just want to quickly comment about "mother as savior."

Regarding your quote "we have seen that whenever her children are concerned, Catelyn can be as adventurous as Carter’s character":

Absolutely! Catelyn has demonstrated that protecting her children is paramount (hence her descent into madness when she thinks she's lost them all and her resurrection as Lady Stoneheart) and places herself in harms way by grabbing the dagger intended for Bran. I've often wondered if Lady Stoneheart will also play an active role in Sansa's escape/rescue. The interesting twist is it's LS who takes Brienne captive and nearly has her hanged, only offering a reprieve on the condition she kills Jaime. And the foreshadowing of Ice playing an important role seems very likely.

Great work!

And let's not forget about her travel to King's Landing and her capture of Tyrion with only Ser Rodrick Cassel for companion :) .

Hi everyone! First of all, I just need to thank Brash and Milady for these wonderful projects and keeping this thread going in such a meaningful way. The list of resources that Milady put together are so impressive and what makes it even more so is that every piece brings something new.

And now to Mahaut's essay. This was wonderful Mahaut. I really enjoyed reading it. I love the twist that Carter added of having the mother save her daughter rather than some male relative. I agree that there are hints in Sansa's story that suggest that Brienne and even Lady Stoneheart will play a part in "rescuing" Sansa, though my greatest hope is that Sansa learns to rescue herself. Also, another parallel is how both these girls (and the girl in the original Bluebeard tale) have their eyes "opened" in a shocking and horrifying moment - Sansa when she witnesses her beloved father's beheading and the girl when she opens the door to the forbidden room and sees the former wives dead bodies.

I see what you mean by "rescue herself". My initial thought was that Ice's /Brienne's/Catelyn's role could be more symbolic. More like a trigger than the actual tool of the rescue. A bit like Needle for Arya. That's one more point in common between the sisters :) .

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Good point. Another parallel is in the symbolism of music. It's the protagonist's skill at piano playing that attracts the Marquis's attention, highlighting not only her talent, but her impoverished situation, which he exploits to his advantage by showering her with gifts and flaunting his wealth. With respect to LF, he capitalises on a musical metaphor that reveals Sansa's innocence, telling her that life is not a song, and she will learn this to her sorrow. We later see him using Sansa's love of songs to effect his entrapment of her, as he gets Dontos to present himself as the Florian to her Jonquil.

The portrayal of the "nurse" figures is also similar. Septa Mordane is the one to actively prepare Sansa for her future role as the obedient wife and mother, and in The Bloody Chamber the protagonist's nurse feigns shock at her marriage to the Marquis, but is really secretly pleased. She also tries to dissuade the mother from riding to her daughter's rescue at the end of the story:

Interesting then that the heroine in the end is married to a piano-tuner, someone who is able to attend to her love of music, rather than exploit it. Another significant point to this is how music symbolizes the strength of the mother-daughter bond. The mother beggars herself to pay the fees for the protagonist's classes at the Conservatoire, and in the end they open a small music school with the left over money from the Marquis's estate.

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greetings all!



At Brashcandy's request, I'm presenting an essay on the subject of Arbor Gold in Sansa's arc. As is sometimes the case, the tale grew in the telling, and I will present it in 2 parts (part 2 won't follow immediately given how lengthy they are).



The project evolved into a full critique of Sansa's transition from pawn to player (I realized that "Arbor Gold" is her likely MO), and bisected the essay at the point of her departure from Kings Landing. The 2 parts are mirror-images of each other, such that the same inventory of skills and themes are explored prior to LF's reveal and after, when she begins to take ownership of these strengths and forms a deliberate MO.


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Adoption of an MO: Lies and Arbor Gold



The following is something of a “pawn to player primer,” delimiting how I understand Sansa’s transition to “player” to have occurred. I consider LF’s offering direct tutelage to be a critical break in catalyzing this transition, so I’m breaking this “primer” into 2 parts. In Part 1, I’ve compiled what I consider to be the most significant “lessons” and “moves” prior to Sansa’s escape following the Purple Wedding. Part 2 focuses on understanding LF’s method of gameplay, how the residue of Sansa’s previous lessons affects how she thinks, and how this residue might shape the modus operandi she is being taught into something that is uniquely hers.



Even though it’s not “named” until aFFC, “lies and Arbor Gold” is an apt metaphor for Sansa’s journey. At the risk of being overly reductive, sweet lies and masked dangers have been foisted on her, preying upon her compassion and hope for the better part of the first three books. Though she does express doubts and caution throughout the series, her hope offers those who wish to use her for their ends a relatively tractable pawn.



But it must be noted that this hope is also what sustains her. The sweet lies and masked dangers others have foisted on her have not broken her, and most importantly, she starts recognizing the mechanics of these attempts to manipulate her as the false seductions they are. If “part one” of her journey is navigating through the world of Arbor Gold others have attempted to ply her with, then “part two” is shaping up to be where Sansa begins serving some of her own.



If I had to mark a single point at which the “pawn to player” transition occurs, I’d place it at the end of Sansa’s first chapter in FFC: “I . . .” I do not know, my lord, she almost said, but that was not what he wanted to hear. Lies and Arbor gold, she thought. “I am Alayne, Father. Who else would I be?” Her adoption of “lies and Arbor Gold” as both protection and a weapon seems to be the pivotal moment that promises a more deliberate and sustained method of playing than Sansa’s previously exhibited. In particular, I posit that “lies and Arbor Gold” is not merely a symbol, but a modus operandi that Sansa has begun to adopt.



A specific sort of deception: lies and Arbor Gold


This series has no shortage of deception, yet not all deception is qualitatively the same. It seems that Arbor Gold functions as a motif for a very specific sort of lie: willful self-delusion by purposely consuming the sweet as a way of ignoring hard truths. In particular, this form of deception seems to involve a high degree of complicity by the party being lied to; the deceived party wants to be served these lies, even asking for the lies directly at times.



Arbor Gold is set up as a prized luxury good in Westeros, allegedly the most desirable of the wines we see. It’s valuable, coveted, and apparently quite delicious. Given its luxury status, one would think that this wine would be all the nobility might drink when presented with the opportunity, yet it overwhelmingly appears when a party is seeking to be sold a fictional reality as a means of avoiding the actual situation. The desirability of Arbor Gold takes on a new association whereby the drinker seeks not just an escape or pleasure, but the illusion of a very different reality than the one that exists.



It’s indeed quite dangerous to ignore reality and buy sweet fictions in its stead. Arbor Gold is therefore another symbol of seductive beauty masking great danger, like sweetmilk laced with sweetsleep or an amethyst from Asshai that’s actually the Strangler disguised in a hairnet. That is, a weapon powerful in its subtlety.



For more discussion on Arbor Gold as a symbol, Apple, Dr P and I collaborated on this thread.




Part I: Education of a Pawn



courtesy


Sansa was raised to be obedient, pleasing to others, and attuned to the sensibilities of those around her for the sake of being gracious and putting them at ease. Her early education by Septa Mordane essentially advocated sublimation of her own agency in favor of pleasing others. At first glance, such precise courtesy seems to fall into “pawn” status, that is, obedience to the point of submission seems counter-intuitive as a form of gameplay.



Though I find Septa Mordane’s tutelage generally problematic, her adage of “courtesy is a lady’s armor” is actually very good advice, and one Sansa consciously wields at various stages. Courtesy may appear submissive in that it sublimates one’s perceived agency and desires to please another, but when deployed as “armor,” courtesy is a synonym for “poker face.” Further, to excel at courtesy requires one to be adept at reading people’s faces, recognizing social cues and putting others at ease. The benefit Sansa receives from courtesy cannot be over-emphasized, as this provides the foundation for game play: reading others while revealing nothing of one’s own desires.



Sansa’s use of courtesy undergoes several iterations throughout the series. Initially, she strives to be correct in her etiquette for the sake of winning others over with her charm. This iteration is about earning genuine love and acceptance by impeccable adherence to courtesy; an example of this is when she claims to love riding after she admits that she dislikes horses to herself to be more amenable in Joffrey’s eyes. This phase of courtesy is a weakness, in that her eagerness to please malicious parties renders her an unwitting pawn.



After Ned’s death, she uses courtesy to create distance between herself and harm, appealing to Mordane’s “armor” adage. No longer genuinely wishing to please those she now understands to be enemies, she employs courtesy as a form of protection, a mask she can hide behind so that none can draw pleasure from her misery. To show her true feelings would result in further chastisement, as well as would give her enemies the pleasure of knowing that they are making her miserable.



Perhaps the most outstanding use of courtesy armor occurs during Sansa’s bedding. As the couple prepares themselves for sex, Tyrion asks for Arbor Gold:



“There is a flagon of good Arbor gold on the sideboard, Sansa. Will you be so kind as to pour me a cup?”


As mentioned above, Arbor Gold tends to symbolize an individual’s desire to be lied to sweetly. Indeed, we know from Tyrion’s adjacent POVs (not to mention the entire nature of his employment of Shae) that he wants to feel desired and loved. Symbolically, by asking Sansa to pour him Arbor Gold, he’s asking her to make him feel desired, to feed him lies as Shae does, to make him feel something. Sansa refuses, making it clear that courtesy is all that she will give. It’s a non-reaction, a poker face, more off-putting than if she wept or fought, perhaps. Weeping or fighting would show that she cares about Tyrion’s presence in some capacity; it would render her vulnerable to yet another Lannister who could witness her misery at their hands. By making it clear that she sees this as a duty, is resigned to her duty, and that she will not emote, she prevents both physical and emotional exposure and violation.



In part 1 we see courtesy mutate from a method of earning genuine love to a means of protection. In part 2, this courtesy will mutate from armor to weapon.



beauty


Initially, Sansa associated beauty with goodness. She believed that beauty would win people’s hearts, as beautiful people are inherently good people. Her dealings with the Lannisters promptly disabused her of this correlation. Sansa is hardly alone amongst characters who have fallen victim to the assumption that beautiful things (or people) are good, or at least, benign. Indeed, some of the most dangerous objects and people are also those with transcendent beauty (Asshai amethysts, dragon eggs, petals that hide the thorns, Melisandre, etc).



Beauty tends to be an asset, in that an object or person of beauty is greatly desired and therefore valuable. This value cuts both ways, however. Whether person or object, it tends to evoke a possessiveness and objectification. Beauty became a form of punishment for her after Ned’s death, as she was coerced into becoming Joffrey’s complaisant object:



“Save yourself some pain, girl, and give him what he wants.” “What … what does he want? Please, tell me.” “He wants you to smile and smell sweet and be his lady love,” the Hound rasped. “He wants to hear you recite all your pretty little words the way the septa taught you. He wants you to love him … and fear him.”


Her beauty simultaneously put her on Joffrey’s radar as a desirable object to own, while sparing her other abuses by virtue of the fact that “he liked her to look pretty.”



Sansa’s had an extremely turbulent relationship with her own beauty. She first rejoiced in her beauty as a factor to win love and manifest perfection, yet once her father dies, it brings her no solace. It failed to win kindness from the Queen and Joff, and she no longer finds joy in being beautiful; looking pretty for public display is a demand imposed on her by her enemies. When the Tyrells present the notion of her marriage to Willas, she once again finds hope in the notion that looking beautiful may earn his love, and even hopes to impress him with the new gown Cersei is making for her. This pride and ownership of her looks is short lived, however, as she is immediately married off to a Lannister whom she has no interest in being desirable to. Beauty becomes a mere duty for her.



There’s potentially great power in beauty, as taking ownership of something that evokes desire in another can gain one the upper hand. Beauty is seductive, and frequently renders one less cautious about seeing the dangers beneath.



claim


As with beauty, Sansa’s claim to Winterfell is an asset that has been turned against her for the greater part of the series. Until Dontos explains that the Tyrells are only planning to spirit her away for her claim, the notion that she might become heir had never occurred to her. Even after accepting that they only want her for her claim, she doesn’t understand why they’d ever want to expand their interests to Winterfell:



But she had not forgotten his words, either. The heir to Winterfell, she would think as she lay abed at night. It’s your claim they mean to wed. Sansa had grown up with three brothers. She never thought to have a claim, but with Bran and Rickon dead . . . It doesn’t matter, there’s still Robb, he’s a man grown now, and soon he’ll wed and have a son. Anyway, Willas Tyrell will have Highgarden, what would he want with Winterfell?


I believe Sansa wants nothing more than for everything to go back to the way it was as much as it possibly can. Given this, it hadn’t occurred to her that the families who are still afloat would seek yet more power throughout this war. Dontos’ words are therefore a critical lesson in the nature of the ongoing power struggle, in that the combatants are not fighting to return to the status quo, but to use any advantage to increase power and emerge more victorious than before.



Just as critically, this passage shows us that Sansa had been egregiously undervaluing her worth all this time. She thought that her value was merely as a hostage, to be freed and returned once Joffrey shed the betrothal provided Jaime was returned. Dontos’ words catalyze her into realizing that others will attempt to use her to extend their political influence. Though she accepts that the Tyrells want to use her to gain power, she still maintains hope that he might grow to love her anyway, that is, there would be an element of reciprocity to the arrangement. When she’s forced to marry Tyrion, any hope for reciprocity is lost, and she resigns herself to accepting that her value to everyone else goes no further than her claim.



Thus, she goes into “part 2” with a better understanding of her political worth, has experienced 2 attempts to steal this from her through marriage, and understands that the current conflict goes beyond returning to the status quo. Further, post Red Wedding, Sansa believes that she’s the last surviving heir, which makes her the hope for Winterfell and the Starks. It adds an additional onus to the dream of retuning home, in that she believes that she’s the only Stark who can save the home to return to.



sex


I’m somewhat hesitant to include sex as part of an arsenal as it’s extremely loaded, yet its omission would be remiss given that this is a direct lesson by Cersei. During Blackwater, Cersei proffers advice on how to be an effective queen, listing sex as one of her 3 preferred weapons:

“You little fool. Tears are not a woman’s only weapon. You’ve got another one between your legs, and you’d best learn to use it. You’ll find men use their swords freely enough. Both kinds of swords.”


Sansa is made uncomfortable by this bit of wisdom. The thought of using people through sex does not sit well with her. I don’t believe that the issue is overwhelming modesty or shame about nudity or sex; during her wedding, she recalls how she used to look forward to the bedding (which is essentially public nudity leading to sex). Sansa’s sexuality has been analyzed in these threads with far superior depth and insight than I can do justice to here. That being said, I posit that Sansa is not uncomfortable about sex, but rather sex without mutual desire. I think this is where her discomfort with Cersei’s comments stem.



With sex also comes the issue of heirs. Her “flowering” put her in imminent danger of being wedded and bedded, a prospect especially alarming when she was betrothed to Joffrey. In her marriage to Tyrion, Tywin urged intercourse so that she would produce an heir, therefore enabling the Lannisters to rightly claim Winterfell and potentially get rid of her in the process. By producing an heir, she’d forfeit everything, perhaps even her own life.



During her time in KL, her sexuality put her in imminent danger of both rape and forfeiture, and I struggle with the notion of how her sexuality might play out in the future given how traumatizing it’s been for her. I’m therefore cautious about extolling sexuality as a weapon for Sansa, but a few later developments seem to anticipate that she may realize her sexuality as a form of empowerment.



I think it might be worthwhile to note that Cersei is probably not merely advocating for sexual favors. As we know, Cersei used sex as a weapon against Robert, ensuring that her children were fathered by the man she chose, not the one foisted on her.



--continued in next post---


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--continued from post 24--

subtlety

This is another lesson directly articulated by Dontos. Cersei and Joffrey have long accused her of being stupid, a judgment she finds galling and unfortunate. When she complains about this to Dontos, he explains that her impression of stupidity is actually a form of protection: “Let them. You’re safer that way, sweetling. Queen Cersei and the Imp and Lord Varys and their like, they all watch each other keen as hawks, and pay this one and that one to spy out what the others are doing, but no one ever troubles themselves about Lady Tanda’s daughter, do they?” Though initially considered a weakness, the perception of Sansa as a fool affords her another layer of armor against her enemies.

Thus, she learns that there is safety in people’s underestimation of her, as it allows her to operate outside their scrutiny, which offers both protection and freedom. Further, convincing others that one is weak and not a threat is the most critical method of gameplay for anyone who cannot use direct intimidation or force. This is the source of the major players’ effectiveness, as Varys, LF, Doran and the QoT all sell their weaknesses as arguments against their power, therefore turning their “limitations” into strengths.

Much of the game relies on information asymmetry, as those with the greatest access to reliable information hold considerable advantage over others. Characters tend to be careless with information around those they deem powerless, which Dontos explains can be a tremendous advantage. He tells her that as a fool, he has far more access to information than he’d ever had as a knight. As both a “foolish girl” and eventually a “bastard,” Sansa seems especially primed to wield subtlety as a weapon for her own ends.

tears

This is a minor lesson, but as it will reiterate at the Eyrie, Cersei’s tears advice deserves mention. During the Blackwater, Cersei lists “tears” as one of woman’s weapons: “Tears,” she said scornfully to Sansa as the woman was led from the hall. “The woman’s weapon, my lady mother used to call them. The man’s weapon is a sword. And that tells us all you need to know, doesn’t it?” As I understand it, I believe it relates to the issue of subtlety, as tears are typically understood as weakness, and showing this weakness will evoke pity and mercy from those who might cause harm. Conceivably, for those who cannot wield a sword, tears can spare one from punishment.

Yet tears have brought Sansa no mercy, so she keeps them hidden so that her enemies can derive no pleasure from her misfortune; withholding tears brings her strength and a sense of agency. However, the notion of tears will resurface as a weapon begins to manifest at the Eyrie when she’s called to testify about Lysa’s death, and takes on new meaning with her recollection of Alyssa’s Tears.

politics

It should be noted that Sansa has an excellent background in heraldry and House history, which offers her the advantage of making educated guesses about a person’s identity and at least vague knowledge of their background. Though not enough on its own, this type of knowledge provides a strong foundation for entry in a political arena.

Her abilities are not limited to rote memorization, however. She tends to question political moves when she believes they defy logic or will lead to turmoil. For example, when the “heroes” of Blackwater are rewarded, she finds LF’s reaction to being given Harrenhal perplexing. Between the curse, the fact that it was occupied by Roose, and that Robb held jurisdiction over the Riverlands, LF’s happiness makes no sense on the surface. I think the fact that she noticed this and found it suspicious quite promising.

More impressive are her thoughts about the potential mess that would emerge if Marg followed through with the marriage to Joffrey in light of Loras’ being her sworn sword. She thinks that Joffrey will waste little time before he begins to abuse Marg, and that once Loras found out, it would lead to a second wave of conflict: “The realm might have a second Kingslayer, and there would be war inside the city, as the men of the lion and the men of the rose made the gutters run red.”

One interesting precedent occurs in aGoT when Ned chooses to send Beric to bring Gregor to justice over Loras. LF overhears Sansa say that she’d have sent Loras, and he agrees with her. Of course, their reasons for this are completely different (she appeals to knights slaying monsters, while he basically wants to bring the Tyrells into the war). I wonder if she will ever recall this conversation, think about what would have happened in this scenario, and begin to piece together the moves LF won’t reveal himself.

lies

Despite how often Sansa has felt she must lie, lying makes her uneasy. She still believes that there is virtue in truth, but has painfully realized that truth is not always compatible with survival:

“Tell me the truth, no harm will come to you.” “My father always told the truth.” Sansa spoke quietly, but even so, it was hard to get the words out. “Lord Eddard, yes, he had that reputation, but they named him traitor and took his head off even so.” The old woman’s eyes bore into her, sharp and bright as the points of swords. “Joffrey,” Sansa said. “Joffrey did that. He promised me he would be merciful, and cut my father’s head off. He said that was mercy, and he took me up on the walls and made me look at it. The head. He wanted me to weep, but . . .”

That she reveals the truth about Joffrey to the Tyrells is a strong indication that Sansa still yearns for and believes in truth as a good unto itself. Yet, she understands that truth on its own will not protect her, but rather that one must be carefully protected in order for truth to surface. I think this is extremely important, as it shows us that Sansa does value truth, but knows that in order to pursue it, she must carefully prepare the conditions for its reveal.

Sansa tells two sorts of lies: ones motivated by compassion and lies to shield herself and others from harm. She tells small fibs to people out of genuine compassion, such as her remark about Tommen’s knightly appearance when he performs in the tourney. These are often purely kind gestures, intended to uplift the subject and offer encouragement. The ability to make others feel good about themselves is a fantastic skill, one that tends to earn people’s love and respect. When motivated by true compassion, I believe these sorts of lies are usually harmless. The moral danger occurs when the compassion is absent, and one uses kindly lies to manipulate innocents for one’s own ends.

Kind lies motivated by genuine compassion come easy to Sansa. However, she’s innately less adept at lying to people she mistrusts. Though she succeeds at saving Dontos life with a quick lie, Sandor tells her that she must sell her fictions more believably if she hopes to survive: “Pretty thing, and such a bad liar. A dog can smell a lie, you know. Look around you, and take a good whiff. They’re all liars here . . . and every one better than you.”

She takes his advice, and as the series progresses, she becomes better at selling fictions to her enemies even though the prospect of lying remains something that continues to cause discomfort. In particular, she struggles with using dishonesty toward those she genuinely respects or feels compassion for, though lying to her enemies to ensure both her survival and the survival of innocents becomes part of her skillset.

love

After Ned’s death, Sansa begins to understand love as a tool for manipulation. She realizes that love is not innately reciprocal, and that the Lannisters had exploited her love as vulnerability: “Once she had loved Prince Joffrey with all her heart, and admired and trusted his mother, the queen. They had repaid that love and trust with her father’s head. Sansa would never make that mistake again.”

Despite this, she continues to believe in the virtue of love and compassion as something she personally desires, as well as love as a source of power. During Cersei’s Blackwater advice session, the Queen tells her that the path to loyalty is to invoke fear. Sansa reflects that this seems poor advice, as she’d been taught that love was a more sustainable approach:

“The only way to keep your people loyal is to make certain they fear you more than they do the enemy.” “I will remember, Your Grace,” said Sansa, though she had always heard that love was a surer route to the people’s loyalty than fear. If I am ever a queen, I’ll make them love me.

I believe that Sansa’s thoughts about ruling through love were quite genuine at that stage, in that she envisioned gracious rule to win people’s love, and that this reciprocal arrangement would be a platonic good. After the battle, however, she reflects on “the people’s love” more cynically: “The same smallfolk who pulled me from my horse and would have killed me, if not for the Hound. Sansa had done nothing to make the commons hate her, no more than Margaery Tyrell had done to win their love. Does she want me to love her too?” She retains her belief that love offers political power, but realizes that virtuous rule is not necessary to win popular support, as well as the fact that virtuous rule does not necessarily yield the people’s love.

I think that Sansa is extremely torn about love. On one hand, she never abandons the hope that she will love and be loved. On the other, she recognizes that love can be a vulnerability, and further, that love can be conjured without a genuine basis, and can be used as a weapon.

Of particular interest is Cersei’s advice after Sansa’s flowering: “Sansa, permit me to share a bit of womanly wisdom with you on this very special day. Love is poison. A sweet poison, yes, but it will kill you all the same.”
I have trouble believing that Sansa will follow this advice, that is, close herself to genuine love while manipulating others into loving her so that she might exploit them. However, as with the distinction she draws with lies according to the subject, I do believe that Sansa might manipulate precise enemy targets thusly, as well as draw strength from some form of popular support.

poison

The motif of poison in Sansa’s arc is quite curious, especially in light of Cersei’s “love is poison” advice. Poison’s role as a “woman’s weapon” is a common adage, and indeed it’s a subtle and domesticated one. In a literal sense, poison is one of the few lethal weapons available to Sansa. Additionally, Sansa’s been unwittingly complicit in the delivery of poison, from the amethyst hairnet to the sweetsleep she orders for Sweet Robin later. I think that in either its literal and figurative manifestations, poison is set up to become one of Sansa’s strongest weapons in “part 2.”

--end part 1---

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A wonderful analysis bumps :) There's a misconception that Sansa only begins to learn the game when she's with Littlefinger at The Fingers and in the Eyrie, but your outline convincingly illustrates how she's been crafting her own understanding of these machinations, and developing a stronger arsenal even whilst still a pawn. Good point about courtesy being the foundation for game playing, and the fact that Sansa's earlier application of this left her vulnerable versus how she's later able to use it to her advantage and protection. One of the many discussions we had during the reread phase compared Sansa's behaviour in KL to those of the other touted "players" like Tyrion, and I think it's very worthwhile to look at how Tyrion's excesses in terms of his attitude towards Joffrey and Cersei places him in grave trouble by the end of ASOS. Sansa doesn't just get out of KL because she's spirited away by LF, but because her demeanour throughout allows everyone - including her husband - to underestimate what's going on beneath the surface.



As you noted, sex without mutual desire is what Sansa struggles to accept, and in the end, outright refuses. I always think of the wedding night with Tyrion as one of the most important revelations for Sansa on this issue, as it involves both the recognition of the legitimacy of her desires and the refusal to be complicit in her own exploitation - which is ultimately what Tyrion was hoping would happen. And her stance on this is a direct counterpoint to LF's, whose advice is that when you find yourself in bed with an ugly woman, you get it over with. So far we've seen that Sansa's approach still allows for integrity, compassion and self respect.


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Good points about the music and the nurse, Brashcandy. I hadn't thought of that.




Now, to butterbumps!'s excellent post. Like Brashcandy, I noticed that Sansa has actually been crafting her skills since the first book. We can see that, once again, Littlefinger wrongly considers Sansa as a blank page on which he can write whatever he likes. But once again, he comes too late as Ned, Septa Mordane, and Sandor Clegane have already had an impact on Sansa. Also, Sandor's lesson (“Save yourself some pain, girl, and give him what he wants...”) isn't very different from Littlefinger's Lies and Arbor Gold. So Littlefinger, who takes pride in his understanding of the Game of Thrones, has again been outstripped by Sandor Clegane, someone who doesn't actively take part in the game.



Also (I apologize if this is a bit off topic but since butterbumps! mentioned it…), but I was reconsidering Sansa’s position as a pawn and I thought that she actually stops being a pawn very early in the novel. When she’s betrothed to Joffrey, she’s her own family’s pawn. But when she decides to stay with Joffrey, against her father’s wishes, she actually makes a decision for herself. True, she makes a terrible mistake that consequently cripples her growth as a player. But at the same time, she tries to assert herself as an active player to become the future queen.


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Bumps. :bowdown: Just... :bowdown:


I havent even realized Sansa's assessment of the Joff/Marg/Loras triangle before. Nice one!


This is what im referring to when i mention Sansa's "Politeness Judo". Shes been utilizing it since day one, but she doesnt know how to turn it into a full on "martial art" until later. Your post highlights how she evolves from the "Judo Trainee" into someone well on their way to a black belt in the subject.



On the sex issue, i also agree. She has a flight of fancy when thinking about bedding Loras on their wedding night. How she wants to pull up his shirts and touch him. It excites her so much, she blushes. She assumes that Loras would be enthusiastic due to her own beauty and because she believes him to be a good person who would want her. (she has no idea about his..err...preferences...yet. In fact, i wouldnt be surprised if she did find out about that...without help, if she really thought about it.) So the idea of sex doesnt frighten or even upset her. Its all about context for Sansa. She doesnt want to seduce. She doesnt want it if it is forced. She wants mutual desire.


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Mahaut, bumps, great posts! I never read Bluebeard, so I'll just say I enjoyed Mahaut's post and leave it at that.



I do love the coining of Arbor Gold for Sansa's political style. It fits. One lesson I think Sansa is learning is the power of denial. I see it throughout bumps post, but I think it deserves some independent recognition too. Where bumps talked about how Sansa denied Tyrion any sort of emotional receptivity, I realized that's probably what saved her more than anything. Promising people Arbor Gold is a motivate people, but so denying them it. Tyrion cannot even lie to himself as he does when he's with Shae because Sansa denies him of the sweet lie he desires. I'm not sure if that is a different sort of denial than say he not giving in and crying for Joffery. Or maybe it is just the difference between using denial as a weapon and as a shield?



Either way, I'm looking forward to Part II.


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Good essay, Bumps!



This comment of yours…




Sansa tells two sorts of lies: ones motivated by compassion and lies to shield herself and others from harm. She tells small fibs to people out of genuine compassion, such as her remark about Tommen’s knightly appearance when he performs in the tourney. These are often purely kind gestures, intended to uplift the subject and offer encouragement. The ability to make others feel good about themselves is a fantastic skill, one that tends to earn people’s love and respect. When motivated by true compassion, I believe these sorts of lies are usually harmless. The moral danger occurs when the compassion is absent, and one uses kindly lies to manipulate innocents for one’s own ends.


Kind lies motivated by genuine compassion come easy to Sansa. However, she’s innately less adept at lying to people she mistrusts. Though she succeeds at saving Dontos life with a quick lie, Sandor tells her that she must sell her fictions more believably if she hopes to survive: “Pretty thing, and such a bad liar. A dog can smell a lie, you know. Look around you, and take a good whiff. They’re all liars here . . . and every one better than you.”



… reminds me of a comparison of Aristotle’s and Immanuel Kant’s ideas on ethics and the morality of lies. According to the German philosopher, lies were always wrong and immoral, because lying means imposing a double standard on our interlocutors and peers, as the one that is telling the lie supposedly expects his/her interlocutor to tell the truth whilst he/she doesn’t but deceives the other instead, therefore the standard for one party is to tell the truth and the standard for the other party is the contrary. This is quite a restrictive philosophy as there are no attenuating circumstances, and this doesn’t take into account that the other party might be lying to you as well, it assumes honesty on the other’s part, and worse still, it requires that one should trust the other’s judgment to react to the truth always reasonably no matter what the truth might be as well as the consequences.



On the other hand, the Greek philosopher had more flexible ideas, comparatively: he says that lying is in and of itself wrong and immoral, but then he explicitly stated that anything done with the goal of the highest good was an ethical action; so consequently, to lie is unethical and reprehensible unless there is some good reason that overrides that presumption; that is, when the lie will do more good than harm or the percentage of harm done is significantly lower than the benefits.



So, applying the Aristotelian thesis on certain circumstances that would make lying justifiable, those would be:


1. When asked to give personal information you don’t care to reveal.


2. When the truth might result in trouble for the person who told it.


3. When the lie will protect the person from receiving a deserved but unwanted punishment that he/she will get for telling the truth, but only so long as the punishment for lying and having done the act is not worse than the punishment for telling the truth.


4. When the lie will do significant good or prevent significant harm that the truth won’t, especially if what the person’s lying about is not wrong per se.


5. When the lie will protect the person or other individuals from a wrong act by someone with ill intentions.



As can be seen, the Aristotelian ethics support that which is essentially the gist of what Lord Eddard meant when he told his youngest daughter that “some lies aren’t without honour.”



Unlike her sister, Sansa was never told this by her father, but we can assume that she did learn this philosophy from him as she was growing up in Winterfell, and that this goes beyond the social white lies driven by simple courtesy, which she likely learnt from Septa Mordane. Omitting the truth or telling courteous lies are an essential part of both being an accomplished social butterfly and a good diplomat, and the sole motivation is just spare the other’s sensibilities from unnecessary hurt or to make oneself look better/pleasant, and is a behaviour that can be absorbed quite early and easily, as early as children start to socialise with peers and are told to “be nice” by their nurses, teachers and mothers. But the lying to protect others doesn’t come naturally to anyone; it’s a learnt behaviour that requires a conscious employment of empathy, so Sansa must have learnt it from a parent by example. And the main suspect is her father. After all, Ned is a man that threw his honour out the window at least four times on-page for “lies told for love” as he himself considered them, to protect those he cared about and spare them a greater harm, even if the consequences weren’t always the best. He lied to protect Jon, he lied to protect Daenerys and Robert, he lied to protect Catelyn… Sansa herself owes her life to a lie her father told in front of her, and then she went straight to save Dontos’ life with a lie, dragging along someone so notoriously allergic to lies like the Hound, who in this case is also setting aside his penchant for brutal honesty in favour of protecting an abused girl. And where did she learn this if not from Ned?



But as ready and willing as he could be for selfless lying for others, Lord Stark wasn’t good at lying to protect himself; and neither was Sansa. After getting a sound beating for speaking her mind to Joffrey, she still doesn’t know how to do it, and here enters Clegane with the first of his lessons in the art of deception as self-preservation method. Thenceforward, Sansa moves from social lies and “lies we tell for love” to lies for survival, for protecting herself from further harm, which she didn’t learnt at home as there was neither a need nor a model.



Even so, she still doesn’t know how to use what you so succinctly and accurately dubbed the Arbor Gold type of lies: lies as a manipulative means and a political weapon. She had learnt to use this type long before she was taken away by Littlefinger, true, but didn’t use it to manipulate anyone even if she clearly had an opportunity with the Imp, for example. She lacked the amount of ruthlessness that using this type requires, because at its core this means playing with people’s emotions and hopes, though as you noted it’s not without the other’s tacit complicity. Yet it’s precisely because of this complicity why this type can be a sword without a hilt: on one hand, the lying party could reap handsome benefits; but on the other hand by banking on the other’s willingness to invite deception the lying party also leaves him/herself vulnerable to a backlash if and when the party being lied to notices it or decides not to allow it anymore, and react; so subtlety and knowing what the other wants without revealing what you want is key.



In sum, I would argue that Sansa had 4 mentors for each type of lie: social from Septa Mordane (and possibly Catelyn), for protecting others from Ned, self-protective from the Hound, and manipulative from Littlefinger. Her arsenal is now complete, and curiously enough, all the mentorship on deception she’s gotten follows closely the Aristotelian motivations, and the only corruptive mentorship is just the last one.


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Just wanted to applaud Mahaut and butterbumps for the great essays! Lovely insight in both about Sansa's growth.


I'm looking forward to part II of the Arbor Gold analysis, since that is where Sansa will really deploy her arsenal of courtesy and "carefully selected" words ;)



I have to say that where sex is concerned, I feel that while most of her time in KL is sexually fraught, her exposure to sexual menace there is limited (Joffrey's childish threats notwithstanding), at first because she hasn't flowered and then because she is Tyrion's wife. (By the way butterbumps, spot on analysis of the inclusion of Arbor Gold in their wedding night chapter and Sansa's refusal to engage. Passivity can be a weapon too, as she proves.) Until just prior to her marriage to Tyrion she hasn't yet awakened to her own desires (thoughts of Loras and the unkiss mark the beginning of this) and while she has a period of real anxiety between her flowering and her marriage, her time in the Eyrie marks the beginning of real sexual menace in the form of Littlefinger, not to mention her bizarre relationship with Sweetrobin and her pending betrothal to Harry. Because she has learned so much during her months in KL she seems truly prepared to deploy her "arsenal" by the time she is ensconced in the Eyrie and while she continues to present a deceptively passive façade as Alayne, we actually see her thoughts becoming more independent.



One other thing I'd like to mention-- in my recent reread I was struck by the parallel between Harry Hardyng and the young Robert Baratheon and wonder if Sansa will handle her betrothal in any way similar to her aunt Lyanna.


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Really important point there, and nice to see you in the thread Lady G. We can think of Sansa's sexual awakening as being divided into two stages: not constituting a clear division between innocence and experience, but rather as a liminal space, where she gradually grows more aware of these desires and begins to express them - in the form of dreams and fantasies. The KL stage is where I would argue Sansa comes into contact with the "violent" predator - Joffrey, the mob during the bread riot, and her marriage to Tyrion, which in its essential form is an act of violence due to blatant exploitation, and the requirement that she subject herself to unwanted advances on the wedding night. Sansa is vulnerable during this, but it's critical to appreciate how she advocates for sexual agency, witnessed during her marriage to Tyrion and in subtler symbols like the unkiss.

The second stage (which you rightly highlighted as representing a much more dangerous menace) is occupied by the figure of the "seductive" predator, men like Littlefinger and Marillion, who are no less violent (in behaviour and intent) than their other counterparts, but do try to conceal this through "persuasive" approaches like flattery and grooming. What is fundamentally important though - and it goes to your point about deploying her arsenal - is how in the second stage, where Sansa is decidedly a lot more isolated and at risk, her sexual development has not been compromised, and significantly, it's where she's able to enjoy a more complex engagement with her sexuality. My point is that whilst Sansa may still be at risk, she's much better equipped to confront the dangers posed by LF precisely because of experiences where her desires have been negated and disregarded, and where she's had to assert the right to sexual autonomy. This is undoubtedly the one area where Sansa has never been passive: from the time she burnt the sheets to hide her flowering, up to the point where she confirms to Myranda Royce that she knows what goes on in the marriage bed.

The similarities are definitely there, and it's almost certain the marriage won't come to pass. However, I don't believe Harry's unpalatable characteristics will be the deciding factor in Sansa's decision. As might have been the case with Lyanna, there's a lot more at stake.

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Adoption of an MO: Lies and Arbor Gold

The following is something of a “pawn to player primer,” delimiting how I understand Sansa’s transition to “player” to have occurred. I consider LF’s offering direct tutelage to be a critical break in catalyzing this transition, so I’m breaking this “primer” into 2 parts. In Part 1, I’ve compiled what I consider to be the most significant “lessons” and “moves” prior to Sansa’s escape following the Purple Wedding. Part 2 focuses on understanding LF’s method of gameplay, how the residue of Sansa’s previous lessons affects how she thinks, and how this residue might shape the modus operandi she is being taught into something that is uniquely hers.

Even though it’s not “named” until aFFC, “lies and Arbor Gold” is an apt metaphor for Sansa’s journey. At the risk of being overly reductive, sweet lies and masked dangers have been foisted on her, preying upon her compassion and hope for the better part of the first three books. Though she does express doubts and caution throughout the series, her hope offers those who wish to use her for their ends a relatively tractable pawn.

But it must be noted that this hope is also what sustains her. The sweet lies and masked dangers others have foisted on her have not broken her, and most importantly, she starts recognizing the mechanics of these attempts to manipulate her as the false seductions they are. If “part one” of her journey is navigating through the world of Arbor Gold others have attempted to ply her with, then “part two” is shaping up to be where Sansa begins serving some of her own.

If I had to mark a single point at which the “pawn to player” transition occurs, I’d place it at the end of Sansa’s first chapter in FFC: “I . . .” I do not know, my lord, she almost said, but that was not what he wanted to hear. Lies and Arbor gold, she thought. “I am Alayne, Father. Who else would I be?” Her adoption of “lies and Arbor Gold” as both protection and a weapon seems to be the pivotal moment that promises a more deliberate and sustained method of playing than Sansa’s previously exhibited. In particular, I posit that “lies and Arbor Gold” is not merely a symbol, but a modus operandi that Sansa has begun to adopt.

A specific sort of deception: lies and Arbor Gold

This series has no shortage of deception, yet not all deception is qualitatively the same. It seems that Arbor Gold functions as a motif for a very specific sort of lie: willful self-delusion by purposely consuming the sweet as a way of ignoring hard truths. In particular, this form of deception seems to involve a high degree of complicity by the party being lied to; the deceived party wants to be served these lies, even asking for the lies directly at times.

Arbor Gold is set up as a prized luxury good in Westeros, allegedly the most desirable of the wines we see. It’s valuable, coveted, and apparently quite delicious. Given its luxury status, one would think that this wine would be all the nobility might drink when presented with the opportunity, yet it overwhelmingly appears when a party is seeking to be sold a fictional reality as a means of avoiding the actual situation. The desirability of Arbor Gold takes on a new association whereby the drinker seeks not just an escape or pleasure, but the illusion of a very different reality than the one that exists.

It’s indeed quite dangerous to ignore reality and buy sweet fictions in its stead. Arbor Gold is therefore another symbol of seductive beauty masking great danger, like sweetmilk laced with sweetsleep or an amethyst from Asshai that’s actually the Strangler disguised in a hairnet. That is, a weapon powerful in its subtlety.

For more discussion on Arbor Gold as a symbol, Apple, Dr P and I collaborated on this thread.

One thing I would like to add (without rehashing the other thread in this one) with regard "Arbor Gold" as a symbol of hedonism.

As we see, the phrase is "lies and Arbor Gold".

The power of lies is self-evident in how Littlefinger operates, creating false scenarios, blatant untruths, sowing dissention and mistrust, but in this context, it's the act of telling people things they want to hear or believe.

The method invoked here is one which feeds off the ego of the target, but also their desire for an agreeable course of events within their own life. The "Lord Baelish" aspect of his personality certainly is agreeable, courteous, and willing to make a deal with any lord that seems to serve their self-interest.

So what of the Arbor Gold - where does it fit in? Well, this seems to be more associated with the Littlefinger aspect - hedonism and self-indulgence, luxury and pleasure. Littlefinger is well-versed in providing sensual pleasures.

He knows how to lie, but also how to expose a weakness in someone and drive the lie in at that point like a knife. The most common weakness is most people's drive to satisfy their desires. This is more than just the self-interest that surrounds things like politics and commerce - the pursuit of pleasure can even undermine it. Arbor Gold symbolizes the "good life", an expression of indulgence that only the elite in society can even afford, and in terms of paving the way for deceit, the weak spot in everyone's mental armor where courtesy, discipline, wisdom, and cunning all break down.

When someone like Littlefinger (or Sansa, or anyone) lies, half the element is one's own audacity in the telling of the lie, but the other half is where the victim accepts the lie. The Arbor Gold disarms them, robs them of their natural caution and skepticism. It does it literally, because getting someone drunk works wonders. But also symbolically, it shows that people lie to themselves, because they want to seek pleasure and fulfill their desires. "Good" desires like love or "bad" ones like savage sorts of cruelty, it hardly matters. As Baelish himself tells Sansa "when you know what a man wants, you know who he is, and how to move him".

Sansa was already aware of the lying part. Some could say that there is some evidence of her lying arts going back to AGOT well before she and Littlefinger ever met. Hell, some like Stannis and The Hound even begrudge courtesy and etiquette as a form of falseness.

However, I think she was too innocent to understand much of the "Arbor Gold" effect - that by allowing someone to seek their (personal sort of) pleasures, by helping them do it, they are that much more suceptible to being deceived and manipulated into any direction.

So what has Sansa / Alayne been able to observe and learn in this regard. Sansa learned how to not just lie to Joffrey, but to also use Joffrey's own sadistic desires to manipulate him - for example, saving Dontos by convincing Joffrey it would be more cruel not to kill him. She knew by then that Joffrey desired to hurt people, for his own pleasure. Alayne knows how to not just praise Sweetrobin like they all do, but when to tempt him with extra stories and such, even when she has no intention of following through.

Odd though, that with both The Hound and Tyrion, she seems a bit flummoxed. No real manipulation there, since she gives The Hound some genuine affection / sympathy, and with Tyrion she is courteous and docile but does not lead him on in any way (even where it might benefit her to delude him).

However, as we know, Littlefinger has been trying to teach her his trade in treachery. She is clearly learning it, gradually picking up on the sort of twisted strategies and schemes he has, and how his mind works.

Sansa can lie, she can be Alayne because she needs to be, but what separates the lies from Arbor Gold in her? Thus far she's been playing along very well, dutiful and courteous, sweet but not trying to be the center of attention in keeping with her status. Kind to Sweetrobin as much as she can manage, but also letting him think he's the Lord of the Eyrie when really he's just a boy who is entirely controlled by others.

You can taste the Arbor Gold when Alayne boo-hoos about Marillion killing Lysa to the Lords Declarant. She acts shocked and traumatized (partly this is genuine), and lo and behold, they want to believe her, because she is young and innocent and beautiful, and part of them wants to save and comfort her. In fact, she says very little, and their own psyches fill in the gaps - glossing over that this is the bastard daughter of scheming untrustworthy Littlefinger and there is no reason to trust her any more than him. She gave them what they wanted - a girl in distress, and that won them over more than the actual Arbor Gold being served in their cups. (Littlefinger already had a few of them sewn up, for he knew their desires.)

Sansa actually created a faint echo of her mother in that scene. Catelyn pulled a similar trick at the Inn of the Crossroads, in capturing Tyrion and seeking help from her father's bannermen to do it. Partly she did it by having some authority as a Tully, but much of it was the fact she was consciously declaring herself a Lady in need of help. Sansa may have already picked up some "Arbor Gold" from her own mother to begin with; as well, she's had odd sorts of micro-lessons from diverse people such as Cersei ("tears are not a woman's only weapon"), Margaery, and even Tyrion.

Of course the most key example of Arbor Gold hanging over the Sansa story right now is with regard to Baelish himself.

Petyr makes sure to feed Sansa some Arbor Gold himself - praising her intelligence and making her feel a part of things, partly because he knows Cersei and Joffrey treated her like she was stupid and useless. In part this contributes to her mixed feelings about Lord baelish - beyond just the fact he killed Joffrey and is hiding her, he makes her feel special and important again.

However, Sansa has begun to play him false, it would seem. I say seem, because of her conflicted feelings, which leave no clear direction for her feelings for the future. Still, many see it as a hopeful sign of agency that she now seems to have learned to deceive Littlefinger. Perhaps it is her Arbor Gold for him, that she knows what he wants and she uses it to let him deceive himself.

Sansa knows that he is ambitious, and maybe sense that he wants her to see how clever she is - and therefore, when she acts is his partner-in-crime by being Alayne, is she feeding his desire to be seen as such a mastemind?

Sansa knows also that Petyr desire her sexually, and though still a virgin, she has learned a thing or two about what Cersei calls a woman's other weapon. Petyr has kissed her, and expressed his clear desire for her. She has let him do so once, and though not exactly getting romantic with him, she has also not completely shut that door by recoiling from all shows of affection. Does she sense that by leading Petyr on, just a tiny bit, she has some power over him? And what is the basis of that power? His desire for her - carnal, for certain, but maybe something more deeply emotional too.

As I said in my analysis of Petyr and Sansa, this aspect cannot be confirmed yet, because we do not fully know where Sansa's feelings regarding Petyr are headed. The last we see of them, he is revealing his big plans for her, and then asking for another kiss (that is not of a daughterly sort). Still, if it goes as many think it might, then Sansa may have realized the sort of Arbor Gold she can use against him - the fact that his weakness seems to be her.

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This is another in an ongoing series of poetical and musical illustrations of Sansa. It's long since time that I finished the "Who is Sylvia?" ("Who is Sansa?") contributions, by adding the music for Shakespeare's lyric composed by Franz Schubert. In this case we have two texts, one the German translation for which Schubert wrote his music, and the other a kind of back translation that modifies Shakespeare's English so that it may be sung to Schubert's music.

Here first is the German with a---pretty literal ---translation:

Was ist Silvia, saget an,

Daß sie die weite Flur preist?

Schön und zart seh ich sie nahn,

Auf Himmelsgunst und Spur weist,

Daß ihr alles untertan.

Ist sie schön und gut dazu?

Reiz labt wie milde Kindheit;

Ihrem Aug' eilt Amor zu,

Dort heilt er seine Blindheit

Und verweilt in süßer Ruh.

Darum Silvia, tön, o Sang,

Der holden Silvia Ehren;

Jeden Reiz besiegt sie lang,

Den Erde kann gewähren:

Kränze ihr und Saitenklang!

Who is Silvia, tell me,

That she the wide meadow praises?

Beautiful and delicate, I see her approach,

From heaven's favor and trace she has,

That all is beneath her.

Is she beautiful and kind as well?

Charm refreshes like benign youth;

Her eyes draw cupid quickly towards them,

Therein, cures he his blindness

And lingers in sweet content.

Then to Silvia, sound, oh song,

The lovely Sylvia's honor;

Every charm she has conquered for long,

More than the Earth can grant:

Wreathe her and sound the strings.

Finally here is the modified English:

Who is Silvia? what is she,

That all our swains commend her?

Holy, fair and wise is she;

The heaven such grace did lend her,

That adored she might be.

Is she kind as she is fair?

For beauty lives with kindness.

To her eyes doth love repair,

To help him of his blindness,

And, being help'd, inhabits there.

Then to Silvia let us sing,

That Silvia is excelling;

She excels each mortal thing

Upon the dull earth dwelling:

To her garlands let us bring.

The modifications are not large but they do weaken the verse. In particular "That adored she might be" is inferior to the original "That she might admiréd be". The rhythm is just off: you get held up two syllables into the former, but flow smoothly to the end of the line in the latter.

Now there are many performances to be found on You Tube as this is a famous song, so I will need to do rather a bit of back and forth to retrieve the links.

First here is the man, that is, Fischer-Dieskau.

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=CmBBWIup9ac

Barbara Streisand:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=HO2CvH-6OS8

Yes, her. I told you this song is famous.

Elizabeth Schwarzkopf:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=mHas4Fss1fA

A more leisurely tempo than DF-D, but also pleasing. This you tube post has the original English one should note, as well as the German.

Matthias Görne, Baritone

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=osa0FHVT7cE

Fischer-Dieskau took this fast? Well, I can take it slow. (This baritone is sometimes considered Fischer Dieskau's successor as a recitalist) . And here is an interview with our singer from Spanish TV---Görne speaks in English, and the announcer in Spanish. And the music is An Sylvia. So that all fits.

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6eTEkeMnwBw

Now here is the modified English---

Dame Janet (mezzo):

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=o8vHk038_VY

The King's Singers:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qifxMFcjr58

Preview of coming attractions:

Three bird songs for our "little bird".---As soon as I can figure out what I want to say about Sandor calling her that.

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Thank you for another lovely set of M&P illustrations, Old Growth :) Sometimes I don't get the chance to listen to the music right away, but it's nice to return to it after a stressful day.



-----------------------



The following mini-essay was initially just meant to be a follow up piece to Mahaut work's on The Bloody Chamber, but after a few twists and turns, it became a longer exploration on the gothic in Sansa's story and how studying this form can elucidate critical aspects of her time in the Eyrie. I hope you all enjoy and will share your thoughts.

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All creatures must learn that there exist predators. Without this knowing, a woman will be unable to negotiate safely within her own forest without being devoured. To understand the predator is to become a mature animal who is not vulnerable out of naiveté, inexperience or foolishness.

Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run with the Wolves

A summary of The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe describes the novel as follows:

[it] chronicles the adventures of Emily St. Aubert following the successive
deaths of her parents when she is left almost penniless and forced to leave her
home and beloved, potential future husband, Valancourt, in order to accompany
her newly married aunt to the Castle Udolpho, a new home lying beyond the
borders of Emily’s native land. Her aunt’s new husband, Count Montoni,
assumes increasingly terrifying and tyrannical proportions as he abuses his
paternal power, and repeatedly threatens the young woman with a loveless
arranged marriage and disinheritance.

Sounds familiar? Radcliffe’s novel belongs to the Female Gothic tradition, a legacy that once denoted only gothic works by female writers, but which has been extensively revised and appropriated to house other texts that engage in subverting gender norms and exploring the role of women under the oppressive conditions of patriarchal society. These concerns are evident in stories like The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter, whose heroine is married to a sadistic nobleman, and whose defining discovery of her husband’s depravity is meant to accompany a discovery of self and fortitude that resists the murderous intentions of the Marquis. My argument is that Martin has appropriated elements of the Female Gothic for Sansa’s arc, specifically her time spent in the Eyrie with Littlefinger, and that in similar fashion to the young pianist of Carter’s tale, Sansa’s experience involves confronting the perverse proclivities of this father figure, leading to revelations that will have meaningful impact on her development.

In their study of the Gothic in Carter’s stories, Sara Tavassoli and Parvin Ghasemi argue that unlike conventional Gothic writers whose purpose is to elicit fear in the audience, “Gothic settings, Gothic characters and Gothic themes are her vehicle of the investigation into gender relationships in the modern society.” This definition can be applied to Martin’s handling of the Gothic in Sansa’s story, where the isolation and remoteness of the Eyrie castle acts as the backdrop for a series of dramatic and tense encounters between players and pawns.

Carol M. Davidson further outlines the predicament which the Female Gothic addresses, describing it as

a form that is generally distinguished from the traditional Gothic mode as it
centers its lens on a young woman’s rite of passage into womanhood and her
ambivalent relationship to contemporary domestic ideology, especially the joint
institutions of marriage and motherhood. As such the Gothic deploys the super-
natural for political ends. As Eugenia C Delamotte explains: […] “the ‘fear of
power’ embodied in Gothic romance is a fear not only of supernatural powers
but also of social forces so vast and impersonal that they seem to have supernatural
strength.”

The Eyrie

Remote and inaccessible, the Eyrie’s function as a gothic setting is enhanced by Lady Lysa’s insistence on keeping a very small household to run the castle. With the sky cells and the moon door, it blurs the lines between death and captivity, underscoring the powerlessness Sansa feels. It is a lonesome and forbidding place:

The Eyrie was no home. It was no bigger than Maegor’s Holdfast, and outside its sheer white walls was only the mountain and the long treacherous descent past Sky and Snow and Stone to the Gates of the Moon on the valley floor. There was no place to go and little to do. The older servants said these halls rang with laughter when her father and Robert Baratheon had been Jon Arryn’s wards, but those days were many years gone. Her aunt kept a small household, and seldom permitted any guests to ascend past the Gates of the Moon. Aside from her aged maid, Sansa’s only companion was the Lord Robert, eight going on three.

The comparison to Maegor’s Holdfast is telling, as that acted too as a space of entrapment for Sansa during her time as a hostage. Whereas her father was able to able to enjoy a happy time growing up here, Sansa’s experience is profoundly alienating:

When she opened the door to the garden, it was so lovely that she held her breath, unwilling to disturb such perfect beauty. The snow drifted down and down, all in ghostly silence, and lay thick and unbroken on the ground. All color had fled the world outside. It was a place of whites and blacks and greys. White towers and white snow and white statues, black shadows and black trees, the dark grey sky above. A pure world, Sansa thought. I do not belong here.

But does the gothic space only symbolize exploitation and confinement in Sansa’s narrative? In the same garden where she initially feels such exclusion from the “pure world”, Sansa proceeds to build a snow version of Winterfell, literally constructing her identity as a Stark that recharges her resistance to LF:

She wondered where this courage had come from, to speak to him so frankly. From Winterfell, she thought. I am stronger within the walls of Winterfell.

The garden outside the castle enclosures is a familiar place of retreat and tranquillity for Sansa, as with the godswood in the Red Keep. Her defence of the physical snow castle from Sweetrobin, and her symbolic virtue from LF when he playfully references the childhood game of “come into my castle” indicates that Sansa is not content to be a passive victim invaded and trampled by the giants around her. In King’s Landing she took the risk of moving through the hostile Red Keep in order to meet with Dontos, bringing a dagger along to defend herself if necessary. Ellen Malenas Ledoux argues that actions such as these are important in highlighting female agency and complicating the view of gothic space as predominantly oppressive to women:

I argue that the castles, moats and subterraneous passages represented in
Gothic fiction have a fluid signification for women authors in the late
eighteenth century. While authors do sometimes portray these spaces as
threatening, they also depict Gothic settings in which female characters
exhibit mastery and find economic enfranchisement.

The resistance displayed in the garden energizes Sansa’s determination to confront her aunt and ask to be sent away from the Eyrie:

I will tell my aunt that I don’t want to marry Robert. Not even the High Septon himself could declare a woman married if she refused to say the vows. She wasn’t a beggar, no matter what her aunt said. She was thirteen, a woman flowered and wed, the heir to Winterfell. Sansa felt sorry for her little cousin sometimes, but she could not imagine ever wanting to be his wife. I would sooner be married to Tyrion again. If Lady Lysa knew that, surely she’d send her away . . . away from Robert’s pouts and shakes and runny eyes, away from Marillion’s lingering looks, away from Petyr’s kisses. I will tell her. I will!

The ambivalence towards marriage and motherhood which Davidson noted above, along with the threat of sexual danger posed by predatory men are all captured in this internal declaration by Sansa. She is caught in a nightmare of competing patriarchal interests and claims, but affirms her sexual autonomy and inheritance rights – two things that were most at risk of being stripped and stolen from the Gothic heroine. It is currently outside the scope of this essay (and will be explored in another analysis) but my contention is that Sansa’s time in the Eyrie allows her to engage in maternal activities that are ultimately beneficial to Sweetrobin and empowering for Sansa.

Marillion – The ghost

The supernatural is a well-documented feature of the Female Gothic, with the heroine often in fear of some unknown or otherworldly entity. In Sansa’s story, the haunting of the Eyrie comes from a known figure, that of Marillion, who has been blamed for the death of Lysa Arryn:

If the Eyrie had been made like other castles, only rats and gaolers would have heard the dead man singing. Dungeon walls were thick enough to swallow songs and screams alike. But the sky cells had a wall of empty air, so every chord the dead man played flew free to echo off the stony shoulders of the Giant’s Lance. And the songs he chose . . . He sang of the Dance of the Dragons, of fair Jonquil and her fool, of Jenny of Oldstones and the Prince of Dragonflies. He sang of betrayals, and murders most foul, of hanged men and bloody vengeance. He sang of grief and sadness.

No matter where she went in the castle, Sansa could not escape the music. It floated up the winding tower steps, found her naked in her bath, supped with her at dusk, and stole into her bedchamber even when she latched the shutters tight. It came in on the cold thin air, and like the air, it chilled her. Though it had not snowed upon the Eyrie since the day that Lady Lysa fell, the nights had all been bitter cold.

The peculiar gothic space of the Eyrie facilitates Marillion’s “haunting” and Martin uses it as a way of exploring Sansa’s development from the innocent girl who cried over the departure of a singer at Winterfell, to the mature maiden who understands that music can elicit other emotions than simple pleasure. Rather than presenting her as the stereotypical terrified damsel, Martin complicates the tradition of the gothic haunting through LF’s incrimination of Sansa in his crimes. The haunting produces not fear exactly, but a guilty conscience that she struggles to allay:

That night the dead man sang “The Day They Hanged Black Robin,” “The Mother’s Tears,” and “The Rains of Castamere.” Then he stopped for a while, but just as Sansa began to drift off he started to play again. He sang “Six Sorrows,” “Fallen Leaves,” and “Alysanne.” Such sad songs, she thought. When she closed her eyes she could see him in his sky cell, huddled in a corner away from the cold black sky, crouched beneath a fur with his woodharp cradled against his chest. I must not pity him, she told herself. He was vain and cruel, and soon he will be dead. She could not save him. And why should she want to? Marillion tried to rape her, and Petyr had saved her life not once but twice. Some lies you have to tell. Lies had been all that kept her alive in King’s Landing. If she had not lied to Joffrey, his Kingsguard would have beat her bloody.

Despite the pity she feels for Marillion, Sansa knows all too well the need for self-preservation through pretence. Putting on a charade during Nestor Royce’s investigation allows for one tormentor to be silenced, and her adoption of ‘lies and arbor gold’ at the end of the chapter suggests an enhanced understanding of the necessity for manipulative masquerades.

Littlefinger – the monster

In the Female Gothic, the monstrous figure is embodied by the male tyrant – usually a guardian, relative or husband, who abuses his authority over the heroine and tries to frighten her into submission. In The Bloody Chamber, the narrator detects the monstrous qualities of her husband in the early stages of their courtship:

He was older than I. He was much older than I; there were streaks of pure silver in his dark mane. But his strange, heavy, almost waxen face was not lined by experience. Rather, experience seemed to have washed it perfectly smooth, like a stone on a beach whose fissures have been eroded by successive tides. And sometimes that face, in stillness when he listened to me playing, with the heavy eyelids folded over eyes that always disturbed me by their absolute absence of light, seemed to me like a mask, as if his real face, the face that truly reflected all the life he had led in the world before he met me, before, even, I was born, as though that face lay underneath this mask. Or else, elsewhere. As though he had laid by the face in which he had lived for so long in order to offer my youth a face unsigned by the years.

The Marquis’ true nature is still concealed from the narrator, although she senses an inherent duplicity at work in the wax-like stillness of his face. Sansa also detects her guardian’s deceitful countenance – the kind and paternal Petyr Baelish vs. LF the predatory opportunist. Sansa thinks that she would have fled both these personas, but admits bitterly that there is nowhere to go and no one to turn to. Just as the heroine of The Bloody Chamber discovers, it is no easy feat to escape the monster’s lair once one has entered its confines.

As Sansa determined in ASOS when she expressed the desire to flee “Marillion’s lingering looks” and “Petyr kisses”, the threat posed by the monstrous male is predominantly sexual. George E. Haggerty locates the trope in the genesis of gothic literature:

Trangressive sexual relations are an undeniable common denominator of
Gothic, and from the moment in the early pages of Walpole’s
The Castle of Otranto (1764) when Walpole’s anti-hero Manfred presses
his suit on the fiancée of his deceased son (and she flees into the “long
labyrinth of darkness” in the “subterraneous” regions of the castle),
a Gothic trope is fixed: terror is almost always sexual terror, and fear,
flight, incarceration, and escape are almost always coloured by the exoticism
of transgressive sexual aggression.

Both LF and the Marquis are presented to readers as sexual perverts, involving incestuous grooming and sexual sadism respectively. The protagonist imagines she glimpses the Marquis’ true face in the moment of his sexual conquest, whilst LF quickly drops the mask of Petyr when he is left alone with Alayne:

“Father,” Alayne asked when he was gone, “will you have a bowl of porridge to break your fast?”

“I despise porridge.” He looked at her with Littlefinger’s eyes. “I’d sooner break my fast with a kiss.”

A true daughter would not refuse her sire a kiss, so Alayne went to him and kissed him, a quick dry peck upon the cheek, and just as quickly stepped away.

“How . . . dutiful.” Littlefinger smiled with his mouth, but not his eyes.

That Martin wants us to appreciate LF as a monster is further highlighted during Sansa’s journey down the mountain in her final chapter of AFFC. During her conversation with Myranda Royce, the older girl twice refers to Lysa Tully’s killer as a monster. Of course she believes that she’s talking about Marillion, but the readers and Sansa are aware that the culprit is truly LF:

“… I fear I must apologize to you. You will think me a dreadful slut, I know, but I bedded that pretty boy Marillion. I did not know he was a monster. He sang beautifully, and could do the sweetest things with his fingers. I would never have taken him to bed if I had known he was going to push Lady Lysa through the Moon Door. I do not bed monsters, as a rule.”

And yet, as Angela Carter once said, if there’s a beast in men there’s one in women too.

Lysa Arryn and Sansa Stark: The Madwoman and the Wild woman

In the article entitled ‘Monsters and Madwomen: Changing Female Gothic’, Karen F. Stein contends:

Monsters figure conspicuously in Gothic literature. The product of a sensibility
that glorifies the self in isolation from society, the Gothic explores the darker
side of the Romantic vision. In the Gothic mirror, the self is reflected in the
extreme poses of rebel, outcast, obsessive seeker of forbidden knowledge, monster…
For a man to rebel, to leave a comfortable home and to search for truth are noble
acts… For women however, such assertions of questing self-hood have been
deemed bizarre and crazy; consequently the Gothic mode – and in particular the
concept of the self as a monster – is associated with narratives of female experience.

Although the monstrous male is responsible for killing the madwoman – a familiar gothic symbol of what Stein refers to as the “devalued female role” – it is my contention that Sansa can redeem this figure, represented by her aunt Lysa, in a process that involves precisely the act of monstrous truth seeking. This (re)discovery is not only important to enable Sansa in learning the truth of LF’s direct hand in her family’s tragedy, but also as a means of self-empowerment and growth. Returning to the trauma of her aunt’s death and what she learnt there, Sansa, like the protagonist of The Bloody Chamber, can open the doors to her eventual liberation. Stein states:

In these novels of modern Female Gothic, the heroines, no longer powerless,
undertake their own inner journeys, turning madness into self-exploration and
personal discovery. As we shall see, these characters heal their psychic splits
by integrating both components of themselves, the independent and assertive
with the emotional and nurturant. In achieving this integration, these characters
redefine and revalue the female role.

This is the kind of integration that Clarissa Pinkola Estes advocates in her text Women Who Run With the Wolves, where she explores the power of the wild woman archetype of the female psyche through an examination of fairy tales and myths. She offers a provocative reading of the Bluebeard tale and the danger this dark presence represents to female fulfilment:

… the young wife has fooled herself. Initially she felt fearful of Bluebeard. She was
wary. However a little pleasure out in the woods causes her to overrule her intuition…
Her wildish nature, however, has already sniffed out the situation and knows the
blue-bearded man is lethal, but the naïve psyche disallows this inner knowing.

We discussed in an earlier essay the significance of Sansa’s olfactory perception, and how it has functions in her arc in identifying potential predators and dangers. Interestingly, in The Bloody Chamber, the Marquis insists on not having his visits announced when he is courting the narrator, but it is his smell that alerts her every time:

Above the syncopated roar of the train, I could hear his even, steady breathing. Only the communicating door kept me from my husband and it stood open. If I rose up on my elbow, I could see the dark, leonine shape of his head and my nostrils caught a whiff of the opulent male scent of leather and spices that always accompanied him and sometimes, during his courtship, had been the only hint he gave me that he had come into my mother's sitting room, for, though he was a big man, he moved as softly as if all his shoes had soles of velvet, as if his footfall turned the carpet into snow.

He had loved to surprise me in my abstracted solitude at the piano. He would tell them not to announce him, then soundlessly open the door and softly creep up behind me with his bouquet of hot-house flowers or his box of marrons glacés, lay his offering upon the keys and clasp his hands over my eyes as I was lost in a Debussy prelude. But that perfume of spiced leather always betrayed him; after my first shock, I was forced always to mimic surprise, so that he would not be disappointed.

Since hearing her aunt’s revelations, Sansa has been made to lock them away, to be swayed by LF’s words that it was nothing more than the ravings of a lunatic, and to adopt the guise of Alayne Stone, his loving natural daughter. Essentially, her wildish nature has been suppressed. LF’s plans for her to marry Harry the Heir and regain control of Winterfell only promise continued entrapment in the gothic space under his command. Estes offers a warning and the hope for agency:

When the youthful spirit marries the predator, she is captured or restrained
during a time in her life that was meant to be an unfoldment. Instead of living
freely, she begins to live falsely. The deceitful promise of the predator is that
the woman will become a queen in some way, when in fact, her murder is
being planned. There is a way out of all of this, but one must have a key.

Works Cited

Estes Pinkola, Clarissa. Women Who Run With the Wolves. New York: Ballantyne Books, 1992.

Davidson, Carole M. “Haunted House/Haunted Heroine: Female Gothic Closets in ‘The Yellow Wallpaper.’” Women Studies, 33 (2004) 47-75.

Ledoux, Ellen M. “Defiant Damsels: Gothic Space and Female Agency in Emmeline, The Mysteries of Udolpho and Secresy.” Women’s Writing, 18.3 (Aug 2011) 331-347.

Haggerty, George E. “Mothers and Other Lovers: Gothic Fiction and the Erotics of Loss.” Eighteenth-century fiction, 16.2 (Jan 2004) 1-16.

Stein, Karen F. “Monsters and Madwomen: Changing Female Gothic.” The Female Gothic. Ed. Julian E. Fleenor. Montreal: Eden, 1993.

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This is a very good overview of the importance of settings in Gothic Romance, Brash, I liked how you applied it to Sansa’s case.





The comparison to Maegor’s Holdfast is telling, as that acted too as a space of entrapment for Sansa during her time as a hostage.



The garden outside the castle enclosures is a familiar place of retreat and tranquillity for Sansa, as with the godswood in the Red Keep.




I find the parallels during both her periods of captivity intriguing: Sansa is actually placed in a bedchamber in two towers, the red-coloured Maegor’s Holdfast in King’s Landing and the white-coloured Maiden’s Tower in the Vale. White and red, the colours of maidenhood and womanhood, and of the northern weirwood trees that are absent in the godswoods at both these places, where she finds comfort.



Do you happen to know about the ‘Maiden in the Tower’ archetype in fairy tales? It exists in Classical mythology as well, with one small yet significant coincidence between both: the tower symbolises metamorphosis (because it rises towards heaven) and more specifically transformation through her childhood into womanhood and beyond. The age of ‘confinement’ of the maiden in her high tower is twelve, precisely Sansa’s age during her first captivity, because that’s on average when moonblood kick-starts maidenhood.



Therefore when a maiden was placed in such a tower it was with the intention of keeping her in a state of immaturity, emotional more than physical; basically to keep her perpetually reserved and inhibited, stifled to suit the purposes of her gaoler, a particularly tyrannical father—in mythology mostly; in tales a stepmotherly figure is more frequent—usually to avoid the fulfilment of a prophesy by some oracle that when the maiden grows, and becomes a woman, she would be her gaoler’s downfall.



And in such stories, the maiden had only one way of finding an escape: with her singing, she attracts someone to her tower, a reason why she’s derisively called “pretty bird” by the witch in the most famous tale of this type, Rapunzel. The one to ‘hear the singing’ is the monster-slaying hero in the myth or the prince in the tale, because he represents her sexual maturation, her transgressive embracing of her sexuality that pushes out the oppressive immaturity within the walls of her tower, and heralds womanhood, thus providing a way to get ‘out of the tower’ by herself, unlike in the medieval romances that popularised the trope that she had to be rescued by her knight instead.

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Do you happen to know about the ‘Maiden in the Tower’ archetype in fairy tales? It exists in Classical mythology as well, with one small yet significant coincidence between both: the tower symbolises metamorphosis (because it rises towards heaven) and more specifically transformation through her childhood into womanhood and beyond. The age of ‘confinement’ of the maiden in her high tower is twelve, precisely Sansa’s age during her first captivity, because that’s on average when moonblood kick-starts maidenhood.

Therefore when a maiden was placed in such a tower it was with the intention of keeping her in a state of immaturity, emotional more than physical; basically to keep her perpetually reserved and inhibited, stifled to suit the purposes of her gaoler, a particularly tyrannical father—in mythology mostly; in tales a stepmotherly figure is more frequent—usually to avoid the fulfilment of a prophesy by some oracle that when the maiden grows, and becomes a woman, she would be her gaoler’s downfall.

And in such stories, the maiden had only one way of finding an escape: with her singing, she attracts someone to her tower, a reason why she’s derisively called “pretty bird” by the witch in the most famous tale of this type, Rapunzel. The one to ‘hear the singing’ is the monster-slaying hero in the myth or the prince in the tale, because he represents her sexual maturation, her transgressive embracing of her sexuality that pushes out the oppressive immaturity within the walls of her tower, and heralds womanhood, thus providing a way to get ‘out of the tower’ by herself, unlike in the medieval romances that popularised the trope that she had to be rescued by her knight instead.

Well, in these tales we have the example of the 3 sisters of Baelor, placed in the Maidenvault "for the crime of being beautiful". Not exactly a proper tower, but still... Baelor's peculiar desire to suppress their sexual awakening was the root cause here; the faith of the Seven seems to scorn carnality as something inherently sinful. Sansa, prior to her captivity, seems to have been the one member of the Stark children that identifies more with the Faith than the Old Gods, and she is also the story's poster-child for all aspects of virginity (good and bad; enforced, defensive, and default). What's more, Sansa's view of Baelor is that of "The Blessed", that he was noble and virtuous, not prudish and idiotic. (Recall the conversation between her, Tyrion, and Oberyn.) The whole thing sets up a lot of interesting inner conflicts in her.

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