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Milady of York

From Pawn to Player: Rethinking Sansa XXI

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He's a lord honourifically, in his capacity as keeper of the Gates.

Hmm, I think this quote from AGoT supports that he is indeed of the branch whose younger son married Edwyle's sister and a Lord in his own right:

"Lord Nestor," she said. She knew the man only by reputation; Bronze Yohn's cousin, from a lesser branch of House Royce, yet still a formidable lord in his own right.

I believe this matters because I'm sure those Stark relations in the Vale are going to be significant. While Lord Nestor would have no direct Stark relationship, he would still be a cousin of the Stark's cousins, making him and Myranda part of the network that is mostly likely to support Sansa.

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Yeah, I never disputed that. But we're told rather clearly that he isn't a lord in his own right later on, which is confusing, given that the junior branch had a lordship back when the Stark lady married into them (really, they must; a landless cadet branch would never have maintained the prominence these guys have over generations).


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Sansa and the Vale share some notable similarities if we equate war with sex.


The Vale is untouched by war.

Sansa is still a virgin.


The highest peak in the Vale is the Giant's Lance. LF is the Giant.

The Vale is (by road) only accessible through the Bloody Gate.

Here I spare myself closer explanations. :D


LF who started the war being the person behind Lysas letter to Catelyn is the one who can bring war to the Vale.

LF is the one who sees Sansa as a replacement for Catelyn. He wants her.


Interesting developments:

The Eyrie is located near the Giant's Lance. It is LFs center of power in the Vale.

But now as Winter is Coming the center of power moves closer to the Vale to the Gates of the Moon.

It seems power is shifting from LF to Sansa (also from male to female).


If the Bloody Gate is an image for Sansas virginity it is worth to look at the Knight of the Gate. At the beginning of the story it was Brynden Tully, Sansas granduncle. It would fit in the culture of Westeros.

The males in the family are responsible for the honor of the female family members. They have to protect their virginity.

Interesting is that now Donnel Waynwood has the command over the Bloody Gate. According to the wiki he has a squire called Sandor Frey. The name of the squire could hint to Sansas future.

Sandor for Sandor Clegane who rescued her from the rapers in Kings Landing but also Frey for the Freys the betrayers of her family.

Therefore I am expecting Sandor Clegane's comeback but also some sort of betrayal in Sansas future.


By the way I don't think that Sansa looses her virginity to LF because only of the fact that LF didn't enter the Vale through the Blody Gate. He came by ship.

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After having a short chat with brash I felt that now when we are nearing the end of the Pawn to Player journey, it's time for some thinking of projecting all this lovely knowledge into future possibilities for Sansa.

Inspired by DogLover's "Sexual awakening in the female Gothic" and Rhaenys Balerion's essay on Drogo and Dany. Both absolutely excellent reading.

On Sansa's future - Can we make any educated guesses based on other similar character arcs?
There has been a lot of speculation on what Sansa's future is going to be like, with theories thrown back and forth and nothing seems certain.
What has been made quite clear from the "Pawn to Player" threads and the other re-read threads is that the character arcs often parallel each other and they can work as mirrors of eachother. We've seen it with Dany and Jon, for instance, but also with Arya and Sansa, Sansa and Brienne, Sandor and Jaime etc. Dany and Jon have embarked on long journeys from inexperienced and untested through hardship into roles of huge responsibility. Arya and Sansa have gone from sheltered, somewhat spoilt and very much beloved children of a powerful lord and lady through beatings, war and despair into hiding.
Can we use some of the parallels we have uncovered in these other character arcs to project any sort of development for Sansa? I do believe there are a couple of clues lying around, and one of them may lie in Dany's story arc.

Dany goes from scared little girl to empowered khaleesi
Dany starts AGOT under Viserys' thumb and he makes her marry Khal Drogo. I will leave further commentary on whether Dany's and Drogo's relationship is problematic out of this, as it is a topic for another thread (and has been the topic of many threads in the past), but from how Dany acts in the latter parts of her relationship with Drogo, we can be sure that Dany did love him and would describe their relationship as a happy one.

Before Dany has her dragon dream and gets some hands on education from Doreah, she does not particularly enjoy her marriage and her new life. While her interactions with Drogo on her wedding night were quite positive, the life after that definitely wasn't. But then she has her dragon dream and a while after that she approaches Doreah and receives the tools that she needs to get to work out her sex life and by extention her relationship with Drogo. (Again, I won't comment on whether this is unproblematic, unrealistic etc. just pointing out what is there.) Dany becomes empowered. Through taking charge of her sexuality, she has gone from being a slave sold into captivity and has become a khaleesi. Instead of being acted upon, she is now acting upon an object [Drogo] and is making her desires known. She is the one telling Drogo no, not the Dothraki style and that she wants to see his face.


“His were the only eyes that mattered, and when she mounted him, she saw something there that she had never seen before.”



Dany is the one in charge here. She led him out and she is mounting him, not the other way around.
In a way, Dany is transitioning from a frightened little girl [childhood] into an empowered woman [adulthood].

Well, ok then, but does this have anything to do with Sansa?
Sansa has for a while balanced on the cusp of becoming an adult woman. Even if she is young in age, like Dany, she has been forced to grow up through hardship, and she is now about the age Dany is in AGOT, too. So if we take Dany's character development, and look at what we can find in Sansa's chapters, we'll find a couple of things.
Firstly, we have Sansa's own description of her awakening sexuality, from her rather dreamy throughs of stroking Loras' chest, to the unkiss scenario and the dream about Tyrion turning into Sandor in her marriage bed.
Secondly, we have Myranda Royce. She is introduced to the readest in Chapter 41 in AFFC, Sansa III/Alayne II. Myranda is outspoken and makes Sansa blush. From the very beginning Myranda is associated with sex and relationships.


Despite herself, Alayne found herself warming to the older girl. She had not had a friend to gossip with since poor Jeyne Poole. “Do you think Ser Lothor likes her as she is, in mail and leather?” she asked the older girl, who seemed so worldly-wise. “Or does he dream of her draped in silks and velvets?”

“He’s a man. He dreams of her naked.”




Myranda wastes no time describing how her now deceased husband died while having sex with her and asks Sansa she indeed knows what goes on in a marriage bed.
Given that Myranda is outspoken and clearly sexually experience she may work in a similar way to Doreah for Dany. From what it looks like we may get more direct information from Myranda on the pages as she is a more versatile character than Doreah, being the daughter of a lord and with quite a lot of Westerosi gossip available. Myranda has already invited "Alayne" to share her bed and engage in "pillow talk" (euphemism much? :) ) so there is a good chance that Alayne will accept Myranda's invitation. Myranda in turn talks about Marillion and flippantly tells Sansa how she doesn't normally sleep with monsters.

Clearly Myranda has a good understanding of what she desires and how to go about getting that, too. This could be knowledge Sansa could use in a similar way Dany used Doreah's teaching to take charge of her own sexuality.

Both Sansa and Dany have experienced what it feels to be bartered like a piece of flesh on the marriage market, without having any say in whether the prospective husband is anyone they'd agree to marry and sleep with. The first step to resist that type of marriage is not just knowing what you don't want, but knowing what you DO want. Dany capitulated and married Hizdahr, but it made her depressed and she is at the same time clear on that she is attracted to Daario and much prefers him. Sansa got paired off with Joffrey, Willas and Sweetrobin, and once she got around to having Sweetrobin pressed upon her, she was determined to resist.

We also have Littlefinger, who is doing his damned best to groom Sansa to his desires. Perhaps one of the keys to Sansa resisting him is whatever Myranda can teach her about her own desires and sexuality. If Sansa herself is in charge of that, Littlefinger will not stand a chance in enticing her as we have seen she is not the least attracted to him.
Dany had a somehat related case with Ser Jorah when he kissed her and told her he wished to marry her, but she resisted. She was not attracted to Jorah.

Bonus possible controversy
Now, we've all heard that Sansa's chapter will be a bit "controversial". Few things tend to raise people's ire as much as female sexuality being described on the pages. For extra "controversy points" consider the following: we know that it's been speculated that Margaery may have engaged in some hanky panky with some of her constantly attending female companions. We also know for certain that it is not considered in the least strange for Queen Cersei to share a bed with Taena Merryweather. A more "hands on" teaching session from Myranda would absolutely send the "controversy points" sky high and also mirror Dany's interactions with Doreah and even Irri/Jiqui and would also add further furore because OMG lesbians. (Again, not putting any value on how this works out for the story or the novels as a whole, just that it has been used more than once before in both Dany's and Cersei's arcs tied into how they are experiencing and utilising their respective sexuality.)

Summary
To conclude, if Myranda can play a similar role to Doreah for Sansa, then we may very well see a similar development for Sansa in tWoW as we saw for Dany in AGOT. Instead of being disempowered and an object to be acted upon, she will take charge and instead act upon someone else of her choosing. This also ties strongly into both Sansa's and Dany's arcs which have circled around agency in general and female agency in particular as one of their strongest themes.

While Sansa has not yet had a watershed moment like Dany's dragon dream to start her off, she's quietly resisting Littlefinger in her thoughts (thinking she is the daughter of Ned Stark and Catelyn Tully, that Littlefinger didn't lift his little finger for her, etc) while she serves him lies and Arbor Gold to his face. With Myranda's informative presence and teaching, aka "pillow talk" we may yet see Sansa dodge Littlefinger and eventually lead her own Sun and Stars out on a field, under the stars and demand to take a good long look at his face. OK, maybe minus the field and the stars. ;)


May the screams and gnashing of teeth commence!


EDIT: For people wanting a more comprehensive write up on themes in Dany's arc, RhaenysBalerion did a really good one here in this post, if you scroll down a little bit. A lot of the themes from Dany's relationship with Drogo are also applicable for what we have seen with Sansa and Sandor, for instance.

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After having a short chat with brash I felt that now when we are nearing the end of the Pawn to Player journey, it's time for some thinking of projecting all this lovely knowledge into future possibilities for Sansa.

Inspired by DogLover's "Sexual awakening in the female Gothic" and Rhaenys Balerion's essay on Drogo and Dany. Both absolutely excellent reading.

On Sansa's future - Can we make any educated guesses based on other similar character arcs?

There has been a lot of speculation on what Sansa's future is going to be like, with theories thrown back and forth and nothing seems certain.

What has been made quite clear from the "Pawn to Player" threads and the other re-read threads is that the character arcs often parallel each other and they can work as mirrors of eachother. We've seen it with Dany and Jon, for instance, but also with Arya and Sansa, Sansa and Brienne, Sandor and Jaime etc. Dany and Jon have embarked on long journeys from inexperienced and untested through hardship into roles of huge responsibility. Arya and Sansa have gone from sheltered, somewhat spoilt and very much beloved children of a powerful lord and lady through beatings, war and despair into hiding.

Can we use some of the parallels we have uncovered in these other character arcs to project any sort of development for Sansa? I do believe there are a couple of clues lying around, and one of them may lie in Dany's story arc.

Dany goes from scared little girl to empowered khaleesi

Dany starts AGOT under Viserys' thumb and he makes her marry Khal Drogo. I will leave further commentary on whether Dany's and Drogo's relationship is problematic out of this, as it is a topic for another thread (and has been the topic of many threads in the past), but from how Dany acts in the latter parts of her relationship with Drogo, we can be sure that Dany did love him and would describe their relationship as a happy one.

Before Dany has her dragon dream and gets some hands on education from Doreah, she does not particularly enjoy her marriage and her new life. While her interactions with Drogo on her wedding night were quite positive, the life after that definitely wasn't. But then she has her dragon dream and a while after that she approaches Doreah and receives the tools that she needs to get to work out her sex life and by extention her relationship with Drogo. (Again, I won't comment on whether this is unproblematic, unrealistic etc. just pointing out what is there.) Dany becomes empowered. Through taking charge of her sexuality, she has gone from being a slave sold into captivity and has become a khaleesi. Instead of being acted upon, she is now acting upon an object [Drogo] and is making her desires known. She is the one telling Drogo no, not the Dothraki style and that she wants to see his face.

Dany is the one in charge here. She led him out and she is mounting him, not the other way around.

In a way, Dany is transitioning from a frightened little girl [childhood] into an empowered woman [adulthood].

Well, ok then, but does this have anything to do with Sansa?

Sansa has for a while balanced on the cusp of becoming an adult woman. Even if she is young in age, like Dany, she has been forced to grow up through hardship, and she is now about the age Dany is in AGOT, too. So if we take Dany's character development, and look at what we can find in Sansa's chapters, we'll find a couple of things.

Firstly, we have Sansa's own description of her awakening sexuality, from her rather dreamy throughs of stroking Loras' chest, to the unkiss scenario and the dream about Tyrion turning into Sandor in her marriage bed.

Secondly, we have Myranda Royce. She is introduced to the readest in Chapter 41 in AFFC, Sansa III/Alayne II. Myranda is outspoken and makes Sansa blush. From the very beginning Myranda is associated with sex and relationships.

Myranda wastes no time describing how her now deceased husband died while having sex with her and asks Sansa she indeed knows what goes on in a marriage bed.

Given that Myranda is outspoken and clearly sexually experience she may work in a similar way to Doreah for Dany. From what it looks like we may get more direct information from Myranda on the pages as she is a more versatile character than Doreah, being the daughter of a lord and with quite a lot of Westerosi gossip available. Myranda has already invited "Alayne" to share her bed and engage in "pillow talk" (euphemism much? :) ) so there is a good chance that Alayne will accept Myranda's invitation. Myranda in turn talks about Marillion and flippantly tells Sansa how she doesn't normally sleep with monsters.

Clearly Myranda has a good understanding of what she desires and how to go about getting that, too. This could be knowledge Sansa could use in a similar way Dany used Doreah's teaching to take charge of her own sexuality.

Both Sansa and Dany have experienced what it feels to be bartered like a piece of flesh on the marriage market, without having any say in whether the prospective husband is anyone they'd agree to marry and sleep with. The first step to resist that type of marriage is not just knowing what you don't want, but knowing what you DO want. Dany capitulated and married Hizdahr, but it made her depressed and she is at the same time clear on that she is attracted to Daario and much prefers him. Sansa got paired off with Joffrey, Willas and Sweetrobin, and once she got around to having Sweetrobin pressed upon her, she was determined to resist.

We also have Littlefinger, who is doing his damned best to groom Sansa to his desires. Perhaps one of the keys to Sansa resisting him is whatever Myranda can teach her about her own desires and sexuality. If Sansa herself is in charge of that, Littlefinger will not stand a chance in enticing her as we have seen she is not the least attracted to him.

Dany had a somehat related case with Ser Jorah when he kissed her and told her he wished to marry her, but she resisted. She was not attracted to Jorah.

Bonus possible controversy

Now, we've all heard that Sansa's chapter will be a bit "controversial". Few things tend to raise people's ire as much as female sexuality being described on the pages. For extra "controversy points" consider the following: we know that it's been speculated that Margaery may have engaged in some hanky panky with some of her constantly attending female companions. We also know for certain that it is not considered in the least strange for Queen Cersei to share a bed with Taena Merryweather. A more "hands on" teaching session from Myranda would absolutely send the "controversy points" sky high and also mirror Dany's interactions with Doreah and even Irri/Jiqui and would also add further furore because OMG lesbians. (Again, not putting any value on how this works out for the story or the novels as a whole, just that it has been used more than once before in both Dany's and Cersei's arcs tied into how they are experiencing and utilising their respective sexuality.)

Summary

To conclude, if Myranda can play a similar role to Doreah for Sansa, then we may very well see a similar development for Sansa in tWoW as we saw for Dany in AGOT. Instead of being disempowered and an object to be acted upon, she will take charge and instead act upon someone else of her choosing. This also ties strongly into both Sansa's and Dany's arcs which have circled around agency in general and female agency in particular as one of their strongest themes.

While Sansa has not yet had a watershed moment like Dany's dragon dream to start her off, she's quietly resisting Littlefinger in her thoughts (thinking she is the daughter of Ned Stark and Catelyn Tully, that Littlefinger didn't lift his little finger for her, etc) while she serves him lies and Arbor Gold to his face. With Myranda's informative presence and teaching, aka "pillow talk" we may yet see Sansa dodge Littlefinger and eventually lead her own Sun and Stars out on a field, under the stars and demand to take a good long look at his face. OK, maybe minus the field and the stars. ;)

May the screams and gnashing of teeth commence!

EDIT: For people wanting a more comprehensive write up on themes in Dany's arc, RhaenysBalerion did a really good one here in this post, if you scroll down a little bit. A lot of the themes from Dany's relationship with Drogo are also applicable for what we have seen with Sansa and Sandor, for instance.

A pretty big difference between Doreah and Myranda and what their respective lessons may be is that Doreah was a sex slave, while Myranda appears to be a sexually liberated woman who has sex because she likes it. Doreah taught Dany "pillow tricks" which she used to gain more power in her relationship with Drogo and influence him (the phrase is explicitly used when Dany had to use those to make Drogo go easier on Viserys), which makes sense since a sex slave would primarily be focused on how to please as a man, rather than on how to gain her own pleasure (except as much as her pleasure, real or faked, is something that a man wants to see). Some of the things I've noticed in the Daenerys re-read of AGOT are that whatever power she's gained in their sex life did not extend to her saying "no" to him if she doesn't feel like having sex, or even thinking that she could do that (in one of the later AGOT chapters, it's mentioned that she often feels exhausted because he's even more aroused now that she's pregnant) and their sex life is still often described in terms of him "taking his pleasure", while there are really no scenes, apart from their wedding night, where Drogo seems to be trying to give her pleasure or where her pleasure is even explicitly mentioned. And, obviously, a sex slave does not choose ho she has sex with, any more than Dany was able to choose when she was married to Drogo. She found him attractive and ended up falling in love with him, but she certainly did not choose him.

Therefore, I think that Dany's sexual "empowerment" during her marriage was relative (basically, making the best of what she was given) and that it was only later than she really took charge of her sexuality in the sense of thinking of it as something that is about her own desires. (I suspect that this may be the main reason why so many people seemed to to see her scenes with Daario as some incredibly extensively and graphically written porn, which they are really not; it reminds me of the recent articles about the MPAA rating system and the apparent habit of giving harsher ratings to sex scenes which show women enjoying sex, compared to those that show unresponsive or even unwilling women.) Which coincided with the time when she didn't have to use "pillow tricks" to have some power and influence, since she was a ruler in her own right now, rather than a ruler's wife who depends on him and his good will for any influence over her fate that she may have.

So, if Sansa's story of sexual awakening goes the way you suggest above - which I really hope - I'm going to find that story of sexual empowerment much more unambiguously positive and enjoyable than Dany's in AGOT.

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Beauty and the Beast - the Original TV Series

An Analysis

"He was such a unique voice on that staff; nobody wrote like George. He was so kinky and twisted but beautiful."

Ron Perlman

In speaking of the role he played in the cult series 'Beauty and the Beast', which lasted for three seasons on the CBS network, George R.R. Martin notes:

The show was twice nominated for an Emmy award as Best Dramatic Series. I wrote and produced

thirteen episodes, did uncredited rewrites on a score of others, and had a finger in everything from

casting and budgeting to post production.

The next time Martin would be so heavily involved in a project would be for his own epic fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire, which he began working on in 1991, the year after the television series was cancelled. My approach in this essay will be to examine the elements which contributed to the success of the show, with close attention paid to the episodes Martin was responsible for writing. The objective is to explore the influences on Martin’s interpretation of the Beauty and the Beast story – a tale that would come to resonate quite strongly in the Ice and Fire novels. I have chosen to focus on the first season of B&B, which is widely agreed by fans and critics alike as the best one, and presents a satisfying development of the relationship between Catherine and Vincent, the two lead characters in the show, and the Beauty and the Beast we are studying here.

Described as “one part Gothic romance, one part crime busters-in-action” by a New York Times critic, Beauty and the Beast managed to capture the attention of audiences who were impressed by the show’s use of literary allusions, the exploration of themes relating to social justice and politics, and not least Catherine and Vincent’s romance. Calling it “that perfect but impossible relationship,” the creator of the series, Ron Koslow, admitted that it was bond between Catherine and Vincent which fascinated the writers:

It certainly does hearken back to the era of courtly love, the idealized love
of a knight for his lady. Catherine and Vincent must make love with their minds,
with an exchange of ideas and feelings.

For Martin, it was Koslow’s appreciation of what the series represented and what made it unique for modern audiences that convinced him to dedicate his talents as a writer in bringing it to the small screen. Martin recalls in an interview:

There were certain elements from the network right at the beginning that
regarded us a hairy version of The Incredible Hulk. If we were going to be
primarily an action/adventure show oriented towards children with an
obligatory beast-out at the second act’s end, and a major rescue to end
the fourth act, I really didn’t want to be involved. But from talking to
Ron Koslow, it became clear that his ambitions for the show were very
high and that he regarded it as adult-oriented drama, rather than
formula action/adventure. That was one of the factors that changed my
mind, and determined that I would take a crack at it.

With Jean Cocteau’s classic film La Belle et la Bête as inspiration, Beauty and the Beast premiered in September 1987, featuring Linda Hamilton as Catherine Chandler and Ron Perlman as Vincent. From the second episode onwards, the opening credits are accompanied by voiceovers from Catherine and Vincent, which establish their enduring connection to one another, and suggest that despite whatever plots each episode may contain, this is a programme that deeply identifies as a love story:

[opening credits narration]

Vincent: This is where the wealthy and the powerful rule. It is her world... a world apart from mine. Her name... is Catherine. From the moment I saw her, she captured my heart with her beauty, her warmth, and her courage. I knew then, as I know now, she would change my life... forever.

Catherine Chandler: He comes from a secret place, far below the city streets, hiding his face from strangers, safe from hate and harm. He brought me there to save my life... and now, wherever I go, he is with me, in spirit. For we have a bond stronger than friendship or love. And although we cannot be together, we will never, ever be apart.

The concept of being from “different worlds” is rendered explicit in the TV show via the use of two different settings by which to associate Catherine and Vincent and to organize the action of the plot. Catherine’s world is the fast paced, lively and perilous New York City, where she works as an assistant District Attorney and has often to do battle with unsavory criminal elements. The tall buildings and the bright lights of the city are replaced in Vincent’s world by long winding tunnels and the soft, misty lights of a community that exists under the city, led by a benevolent patriarch they refer to as “Father”. Whilst Vincent’s world may seem somewhat fantastic, the distinct setting lends credibility to his relationship with Catherine for a modern audience. It upsets the standard expectation of Beauty going to the Beast’s domain and there remaining (with the exception of a brief return to her father’s home) until he is transformed into a prince and they live happier ever after. Instead, throughout the series, the two settings are used as a way of complicating the romance between the couple: they can never quite be together in the open, but still find ways to connect and bond.

The first episode, “Once Upon a Time in the City of New York,” introduces Catherine as a wealthy socialite and attorney. The first shot is of her getting out of a taxi as she arrives at work, dressed in beautiful clothes. She is late, but heads straight to her father’s office for a chat. The relationship with her father is a good one, but it’s immediately noticeable that it’s characterized by a dependency on him, both for her career prospects and her love life. We learn that he is responsible for her relationship with her current beau, Tom Gunther:

Mr. Chandler: I used to be invited to all these functions; I should have thought twice before handing you over to our best client.

Catherine: You make it sound like a horse trade!

And when he tries to reassure her that she’s an asset to the firm and a good corporate lawyer, Catherine responds: “No dad, I’m the daughter of a fine corporate lawyer.”

Despite seeming to live the typical life of a carefree and nonchalant “daddy’s girl,” Catherine’s personality is shown to be caring and compassionate to others when she joins her partner Tom for a dinner later in the episode. As Tom mingles with the guests and the businessmen he is trying to impress, Catherine sits at a table, quietly trying to console a friend who is experiencing personal problems. Tom is not happy about this, and tells Catherine that she should show “better judgment” in her choice of friends, not to mention in neglecting him throughout the evening. Catherine, affronted and upset, leaves the party immediately, only to be kidnapped once outside. It is a case of mistaken identity, but Catherine pays a heavy cost: her face is slashed and she is thrown unconscious from the moving van. It is here that Vincent finds her and takes her to his underground home for healing and recovery.

In the underground tunnels, Catherine is tended to by Vincent and his father, and eventually awakens to wonder where she is and who has taken care of her during this time. Her entire face is bandaged so she can only hear Vincent’s voice, not see his face. The viewer too is restricted from seeing what Vincent looks like whilst Catherine cannot; our appreciation of him comes from the soothing voice with which he speaks to Catherine, and the concern and tenderness he displays toward her. We also “see” him through Father’s eyes, as the elder man shows affection to him as a father would to a son. By the time Catherine unwraps her bandages and is shocked to see the lion-man who has tended to her all this time, viewers understand perfectly the old adage: looks can be deceiving. It’s important too that at the same moment Catherine sees Vincent, she’s also confronting the horror of what was done to her face. The show doesn’t dwell on Catherine’s facial scars for very long (she quickly gets plastic surgery in the same episode), but in that moment the suggestion is of a profound empathic bond between her and Vincent, one that becomes very real later on:

Vincent: I’ve never regretted what I am…until now.

Catherine: How…how did this happen to you?

Vincent: I don’t know how. I have ideas… I’ll never know. I was born and I survived… It’s time for you to back.

Catherine: Tell me it’s a nightmare, that it didn’t happen, it can’t be.

Vincent: It’s not a nightmare, it happened, and you’re alive. (kneeling before her) Catherine, you survived and what you endured will make you stronger.

Catherine: I don’t have your strength… I don’t know how to do it.

Vincent: You have the strength Catherine, you do. I know you…

[Catherine removes Vincent’s hood]

The removal of the hood signifies Catherine’s full acceptance of what Vincent looks like, and they depart the tunnels together, as we see glimpses of the various individuals and families that have made their life underground. Vincent is able to locate the tunnel that leads directly to Catherine’s building, and she tells him solemnly, “Vincent your secret is safe with me. I would never betray your trust.” They share an embrace, but a man’s voice is heard off screen and Vincent has to leave quickly. This is at the mid-way point of the episode, and it proceeds to show Catherine getting plastic surgery in the hospital, going to a self-defence class, and applying for a job with the District Attorney. She has grown from the incident, and not only is determined to learn to how to protect herself, but actively pursues an independent career that can bring her more fulfillment than she found working for her father.

Thoughts of Vincent are never far away: she has a dream where everyone is mocking her, but Vincent smiles reassuringly; and later she smiles when passing over a grate in the city street. Upon returning to her apartment one night after a date with Tom – a man she’s clearly no longer happy with – Catherine hears a noise on her balcony and finds Vincent waiting in the shadows there. He has placed a copy of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens on the floor (it is the book that he read to Catherine when she was still recovering underground). Catherine is extremely pleased to see him and it is here that Vincent reveals that he is able to sense what Catherine is feeling at all times, an actual spiritual manifestation of their empathic connection. It becomes the one “magical” element in their relationship. Vincent tells her that he must forget his dream he had of being part of her world and she must find someone to love. Cathy convinces him to stay for a while longer, and the scene ends with her reading Great Expectations to him.

The climatic point of the episode happens when Catherine is able to bring charges against the men who kidnapped her and their boss, but is then trapped by these very killers in an abandoned house. Just at the moment when she is about to be shot, Vincent –sensing her fear – arrives to save her life. It is Catherine’s first glimpse of Vincent animal side, and she experiences some shock at the violence he can display. Vincent may be the hero, but he cannot wait around for the authorities to arrive. The episode ends with Catherine embracing him after he has promised that he will always be with her in spirit.

I wanted to be fairly detailed in the summary of the first episode because it sets the framework and essential thematic outlines for the rest of Season One. Catherine and Vincent return to her balcony many times throughout the season to share intimate moments together, and his empathic bond becomes instrumental in bringing him to her assistance when her life is endangered. Ron Koslow said at the time of the show’s debut:

The relationship between Catherine and Vincent will be continually challenged
by the fact that Vincent will remain who he is – a perfect man; ironically Catherine’s
perfect soul mate – trapped in an imperfect body. The power of his character lies in
the fact that he’s a survivor who accepts who he is, and continues to move forward.

Martin’s Episodes

Martin wrote five out of twenty-two episodes that were featured during the first season of Beauty and the Beast:

Terrible Savior (episode 2)

Masques (episode 5)

Shades of Grey (episode 12)

Promises of Someday (episode 16)

Ozymandias (episode 21)

In interviews about his work, Martin admits to being a lot more creatively satisfied with the vision he was able to achieve starting from Shades of Grey:

Early on, of course, the network was kind of putting us precisely in the
direction we didn’t want to go: formula action/adventure kind of scripts.
They were putting restrictions on us in the first season which we labored
under that were kind of difficult, including the most irritating to me: they
didn’t want to see any other people in the underworld. Initially, the network
saw it as a cop show with a hairy hero who saved people at the end.
Thankfully, we were finally able to break through when the ratings were
strong enough and we earned a little freedom to do what we wanted.
These battles are worth fighting, because sometimes you lose them for
a while, but eventually the tide turns. In our case, that turn came in the
middle of the first season with ‘An Impossible Silence’ and ‘Shades of Grey,’
in which we were finally able to introduce the underground community
in the way we wanted to.

The real challenge that Martin found was in the character-based episodes, those that allowed him to flesh out the different groups of people in Beauty and the Beast, and explore their interactions and relationships.

In ‘Terrible Savior’, which Martin calls his least favourite episode, the plot is centred on a vigilante who is murdering those he finds doing harm to others on the subway at night. Due to the victims’ injuries – they look as though they’ve been mauled by a wild animal – Catherine fears that it might be Vincent, acting out of a misguided pursuit of justice. The first problem for Martin was that the audience was able to tell right away that the vigilante was not Vincent, thereby losing any potential suspense. He notes:

Most of that scene should have been played in darkness or near darkness,
and the idea was to create the possibility that it was Vincent. You have to
remember that at the time neither the writers nor the audience nor Catherine
knew Vincent very well. So the dilemma, Catherine’s fear of Vincent ability
to kill, I think was still something that could be played. That was really the
thematic point of the script.

Whilst the plot suspense might have been shortchanged, the episode still succeeds in developing the relationship between Catherine and Vincent, as it relates to former’s fear and the implicit trust that she comes to have in Vincent’s goodness. It is Catherine who ends up reassuring him towards the end of the episode that he is not like the vigilante they seek:

Vincent: They hunt for this man as they might hunt for me, if they dreamed of my existence. You have your laws, and your courts to tell right from wrong, your police to protect to protect you, we have only ourselves. By what right do I condemn him … am I so very different?

Catherine: Yes, Vincent … you are.

Another positive of the episode from Martin’s perspective was that it worked to expand a bit more on the underground space:

It introduced the Whispering Gallery, which was the first kind of really
magical chamber down there. If you look at the pilot, which is all any
of us had seen before, there are tunnels down there, subways, sewers
and steam tunnels — essentially very realistic things. When I invented
the Whispering Gallery, it was a deliberate attempt to make that underworld
a little more mythic and a little more extraordinary. I wasn’t sure it would be
accepted at first. I was concerned that people at the network would not want
these wondrous semi-magical chambers under New York, but fortunately
everybody greeted the notion with great enthusiasm. Subsequently, I added
some chambers myself, Ron Koslow added the waterfall chamber, I came up
with the chamber of winds, Howard and Alex came up with the crystal cavern.
There was a process of that world growing. It was very organic in a sense;
we were all sort of feeding off of each other once we gathered together
for our story session. It was not a case where we sat down one day and said,
‘Let’s plan this world’ and got out this map-drawing thing.

Vincent’s words at the Whispering Gallery are appropriately lyrical – a hallmark of his speech throughout the series, and a particular illustration of Martin’s talent in the episodes he wrote:

Father: I’ve heard the children talk of this place.

Vincent: It was our secret place when I was a child. I used to come down here with my friends. We thought it was magic.

Father: Magic?

Vincent: All the tunnels. If you stand in just the right place, you can hear sounds, whispers from the world above: people on the subway, children playing in their homes, lovers walking in the park. Sounds of a thousand different lives if you know just where to stand. The magic places we call them.

Overall, the episode touches on important themes that would be developed later on in the series relating to justice and the morality of violence.

[special mention should go to the third episode of the series, 'Siege', which introduced the character of Elliot Burch, a serious love interest for Catherine, who would reappear in later episodes]

*********

‘Masques’ was the Halloween episode of the season, and it represents the one time when Vincent can be free to walk around the above world, as people assume he’s dressed in an elaborate costume. It is the one night when Catherine and Vincent can portray “beauty and the beast” without fear of reprisal. Essentially, this should be a night of romance, which is what Martin had in mind:

When I came on the show, I came in with two story ideas. One of them
was ‘Masques’ and the other was ‘Terrible Angel,’ which had jeopardy,
a subway vigilante and all that. I wanted ‘Masques’ to be very different,
and I wanted it to be a very romantic kind of magic episode with mystery
and the pageantry of Halloween night. I didn’t necessarily want a strong
jeopardy element in it. I wanted to make it almost picturesque, with
Catherine and Vincent out on Halloween night and encountering the
strange sights of New York City, seeing parts of the city they’d never seen
before – little moments of romance and little moments of humor, mystery
and action.

The network had another vision, however, and Martin’s plot is made to include more of the action/adventure escapades. It takes the focus off Catherine and Vincent and placed on the character of Brigit O’Donnell – an Irish poet who is visiting New York City on professional business. Unfortunately, despite Brigit’s kind and sweet disposition, she comes from a family that has been involved in Irish political violence, and she is targeted by a man who is looking for vengeance over his brother’s death. This leads to a series of twists and turns where Catherine’s life is threatened along with Brigit’s, and Vincent must return to help both women.

At the beginning of the episode, we learn that Vincent is a big fan of the poet, and he is excited to possibly interact with Catherine at the party where Brigit will also be present. Despite Father’s misgivings, Victor insists he must go, quoting one of Brigit’s lines: “Sometimes we must leave our safe places, Father, and walk empty-handed among our enemies”.

Later on at the party, Vincent meets with Brigit (after narrowly missing Catherine), and the two share a long conversation on her family’s history and her romance with her deceased husband. Brigit’s story is relevant to the theme of different worlds for Catherine and Vincent, and she speaks of how she and her husband attempted to resolve that divide:

Brigit: Ian and I were born six straits apart and yet in different worlds. A stiff-necked Orangeman and a croppy girl from Bogside we were. Daft enough to fall in love but not so big a pair of fools that we thought he could live in my world or me in his. So we tried to create a new world that we could share together. Well, you know how that ended.

After the jeopardy is over (with the theme of the futility of revenge), Catherine and Vincent have a brief taste of what it might be like if they were able to share each other’s worlds. They walk through the city and sit together on a park bench as daylight breaks:

Vincent: I’ve lived here all my life and yet it’s as though I’d never seen this city… until now.

Catherine: You’ve seen so much of the violence and hatred of my world… I wanted you to know that there’s beauty as well.

Vincent: Oh, I know that… Ever since the night I found you Catherine.

The next directions follow in Martin’s actual script:

She smiles, lifts her face to him. They seem enchanted mythic lovers of the Samhaim night. For a fleeting second, it seems that they will finally kiss, but just as Vincent begins to move, we hear pounding footsteps. The magic is shattered. They look up, break apart slightly.

Despite having to significantly retool his script, Martin still manages at the end to create that romantic fantasy, however fleeting. When the jogger interrupts to tell Vincent that Halloween was yesterday, the sense of hope, of perhaps being able to create a world that they both can share, still clearly lingers with Catherine.

********

‘Shades of Grey’, the 12th episode of the season, represented a crucial breakthrough for Martin and the series as a whole, by showing that it was possible to have an episode that was character driven rather than the usual violence of adventure plots. Says Martin:

In many ways, it was one of the most important episodes of the
first season. It established the underground world and it was the
episode in which we brought back Elliot Burch and began the slow
transformation of that character… There was jeopardy in the episode,
but I was also one of the first ones that got away without guys with
guns that Vincent has to kill in the fourth act, which we were fighting
desperately to stay away from. I think it established that you could
do a dramatic and very effective show without having to resort to
that kind of action/adventure format.

And Martin’s colleagues shared the same sentiment:

Alex Gansa states, “A fantastic episode, with a lot of good stuff between
Father and Vincent. It introduced Mouse and a lot of other characters,
and, again, more the way I envisioned the show. And some great stuff
between Elliot Burch and Cathy. Elliot Burch was really George’s baby.
George really loved Elliot and treated him that way.”

“Definitely a classic episode,” concurs Howard Gordon. “What was good
about that is that, for the first time, the underworld opened up and it
helped to create the reality of Below.”

The jeopardy in ‘Shades of Grey’ is centred on Vincent and Father being trapped after a cave in, having gone to an unstable part of the tunnels to rescue a hurt child. We are introduced to underground oddball Mouse, who at the beginning of the episode is placed on punishment by Father for stealing from the city above, but later plays a crucial role in helping to rescue the trapped men, along with Catherine.

To understand Martin’s fascination with the character Elliot Burch, one need only examine the title of the episode. Elliot personifies this theme, a man that is neither all good nor all bad – someone that Catherine can still admire, even though she opposes many of his methods. After the falling out that occurred between them in episode three, this was Elliot’s reintroduction to the audience, and his chance to prove to Catherine that he was someone she could trust. She is sent to see Burch because he has decided to provide evidence against a crooked businessman he once dealt with:

Elliot: I’ve dealt with a dozen Max Averys since I began and not because I wanted to. I mean maybe in your life your choices have always been black and white, but in mine they are always grey. I wanted to build and I found that it was easier … and cheaper to play ball with him Avery than to fight him. And maybe you were right to walk out on me when you did. My employees were breaking the law in my name, things were happening that were inexcusable and ultimately it’s my responsibility, but Cathy I didn’t know. Maybe I didn’t want to know. I’ve had a lot of regrets in my life and losing you is one of them. My attorney advised me to shred this file… I got a new attorney.

Later on, when Catherine needs to source the dynamite and equipment to free Vincent and Father from the cave in, she calls on Elliot for assistance. It establishes a sort of reciprocity of good faith on both their parts, as Elliot can only wonder about why she needs such materials. Trapped in the tunnel, Vincent has to tend to Father who has been injured by the falling rocks. When Father asks if Vincent can see anything in the darkness, he replies: “dimly, shadows, shapes, greys in dozen different shades”. The suggestion is that Vincent too knows about making difficult choices.

As the underground dwellers rally to save them, the inherent camaraderie of their community is underscored. Even when Winslow – a burly and outspoken man played by the late James Avery – refuses to support Mouse’s plan at first, we see that at the root of his disagreement is a desperate determination to free Vincent and Father before it too late. The punishment that was imposed on Mouse to have no one speak to him for a month is quickly broken in the crisis, and everyone joins together to assist in the rescue. At the end of the episode, Catherine and Vincent’s romance is reaffirmed:

Catherine: I’ve never been so frightened.

Vincent: Your courage saved our lives.

Catherine: I felt like I was losing the best part of myself. I would have done anything. It wasn’t courage Vincent… it was love.

*********

Martin counts ‘Promises of Someday’ as the favourite first season episode he wrote, and I consider it mine as well. The audience is introduced to Devin, who once lived in the tunnels as a boy and was like a brother to Vincent. The major revelation at the end of the episode is that Devin is actually Father’s son, whose mother died in childbirth. Devin moved away from the tunnels without letting anyone know where he had gone, and returns as the consummate con-man – not necessarily taking advantage of others, but holding multiple identities and pretending to be qualified at one job or another. The job he takes on in this episode is that of a trial lawyer working in the DA’s office, a position that obviously brings him into contact with Vincent’s love interest. It is through Catherine that Vincent learns about Devin’s reappearance, and the two men are reunited.

The episode makes frequent use of flashbacks to depict Vincent and Devin’s childhood escapades, with the highlight being “Mini-Vinnie” as the writers called him- a young Vincent who shows the same courage and idealism of his older self. Devin bears the mark of three deep scars on his cheek – a remnant of a disagreement between them, when he accused Vincent wrongly. But there is no ill will in the men's relationship. There is genuine love between them, a fact that is brought out in one of the flashbacks scenes. Knowing that Vincent could not go out in public during the day when people were around and places were open, Devin organizes a late night excursion to the carousel playground in the park with some of their friends. It is a magical moment for Vincent, as he is able to ride on the merry-go-round and experience the thrills that other children naturally took for granted. However, the fun is cut short by the appearance of a policeman, and Vincent is nearly captured, leading to Father’s ire when the boys return to the tunnels. It is an attitude that Devin was accustomed to eliciting from the community leader, and when confronted with it by Vincent (in the present) the truth of Devin’s parentage is revealed. Not wanting to give the boy any special preference, Father went to the other extreme of not showing him much appreciation or patience.

When Catherine plans to expose Devin as an imposter in the DA’s office, Vincent is alarmed by what it will mean for his friend. Earlier in the episode as the two men were reunited and embraced, Devin jokingly quoted Mark Twain, saying: “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” But on Catherine’s balcony, when Vincent is trying to get her to understand just how much Devin means to him, we learn the true depths of that allusion for the two men:

Catherine: You knew the boy he was, many years ago. You don’t know the man he’s grown into.

Vincent: I know his heart.

Catherine: I’m sorry Vincent; I can’t allow this to go on. There’s too much at stake.

Vincent: We were going to build a raft together… Huck and Jim on the Mississippi … I had other friends, others who grew up with me in the tunnels, but Devin… Devin was the only one who was irresponsible enough to dream dreams that included me.

It’s an evocative and moving statement, made even more so by Perlman’s expert ability in capturing the inherent sadness and wistfulness that Vincent feels.

At the end, Devin is able to make good on his charade as a trial lawyer, and finishes the legal brief for Catherine’s case. He accepts his new found identity as Father’s son, and uses his real name at the airport when departing to Alaska. Fittingly, the episode concludes with a flashback of Mini-Vinnie gazing contentedly at a toy carousel – a memory of the night he got to have that ride- as Devin observes silently in the background.

*******

If The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn evoked positive associations for Devin and Vincent, the final episode of Martin’s for the first season relied on the opposite literary symbolism to explore the threat to Vincent’s world by a massive building project. Titled ‘Ozymandias’, the reference is to the famous sonnet by Percy Bysshe Shelley:

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

It is a poem that speaks to the ravages of time and the arrogance of men – the fact that all these monuments they build to glorify themselves and solidify their legacies will one day only be “colossal wrecks”. The episode’s Ozymandias is Elliot Burch, who is finally on the cusp of achieving his life’s dream: building a tower to adorn the New York City skyline. Martin is able to communicate Burch’s desires sympathetically, as he enthusiastically shares his dream with Catherine, and later on proposes marriage to her. Desperate to save Vincent’s world, Catherine agrees to marry Burke if he will halt construction, but he refuses. Later on, she learns that he was once again involved in crooked schemes to ensure the project’s success, and is able to gain a court injunction to stop the building of the tower.

Elliot’s boundless ambition is contrasted with the artistic work done by one of the tunnel dwellers, Elizabeth, whose art adorns the walls in the upper chambers. Elizabeth is an older woman, but fiercely dedicated to her work, and refuses to stop painting even when the walls begin to shake and crumble from the construction of Burch’s tower. Her paintings contain images from both the above and below world, with the suggestion that this is a more lasting, and “humane” tribute than anything Burch could offer.

Burch describes the tower as a city within a city, but the one Catherine is intimately familiar with does not exist in the sky, but below the ground. Her act of self-sacrifice in marrying Burch if it means saving the only home Vincent has ever known illustrates just how much Vincent and his people have come to mean to her. As she tells Elliot, “people are more important than buildings… more important than dreams, even…”

Conclusion

The final episode of the season was entitled ‘A Happy Life’ and written by Ron Koslow. After managing to save his world in the previous episode, ‘A Happy Life’ presents Catherine experiencing a personal crisis about her future with Vincent. She knows she loves him, but the reality of never being able to openly live together begins to affect her. As the writers agreed, the episode is testament to the strength of Koslow’s appreciation for the romance between the lead couple.

Catherine’s breakdown is initiated by the 20th anniversary of her mother’s death: an occasion that not only results in the usual grief, but causes Catherine to begin to look closely at her life and whether she will ever find the true fulfillment her mother would have wanted her to have. After seeing a psychiatrist and going away to visit an old school friend, Catherine finally reaches the decision that no matter the challenges, she wants to be with Vincent. It was an emphatic and rewarding way to close the first season on their relationship, even though the degree to which physical intimacy could be shown between them was still obviously an awkward issue for the network. Their reunion is sealed with what can only be described as a “shadow kiss,” as Catherine and Vincent remain gazing at each other, while in the background they appear to kiss. Martin states:

They filmed the ending with a kiss and without the kiss, and came to
some sort of compromise. What we kept hearing about the kiss is that
once it happens, the show’s over. But that’s too literal an interpretation
of the original model. In the original Beauty and the Beast, once they kiss
it is over, because the kiss symbolically represents what turns him back
into human form. For us, there was a lot more to explore beyond the kiss.

Despite the compromise, fans were eager for what the second season would hold for the couple now that they were committed to each other wholeheartedly. The show had succeeded through the strength of its writing, production, and the chemistry between Hamilton and Perlman, in offering an engaging reinterpretation of the tale as old as time. In a piece entitled ‘Prince of the Underground City’, Perlman talked about the beauty of playing Vincent:

I had played beasts prior to this. This is not only a beast, but a beast
who lived as an extension of his pain every moment of every day, and
all of that was there in the relationship with this woman who opened
up all of these new feelings in him. It was just mind-blowing that somebody
could come up with a character that crystallized all of the beasts which had
ever been written in history, including the Hunchback of Notre Dame,
the beast from the Cocteau film and the beast that I played in
Name of the Rose. These guys, I always felt, had tremendous feelings
underneath their ugliness and these things were always touched on
by other characterizations, but never as articulately as in this version.
I just saw an incredible sensitivity on the part of the writer for this man’s
pain and his ability to transcend it.

Perlman’s ability to grasp the fundamental poignancy of his character was perhaps a major reason why Martin felt he would make a good choice for the part of Sandor Clegane - Martin’s very own complex beast in the ASOIAF series.

In The Meanings of Beauty and the Beast, Jerry Griswold argues that the television series makes use of the B&B tale to explore a “missing wildness” that both men and women need to recover to be truly empowered. This is certainly something that we see emphasized in Martin’s portrayal of Sandor and Sansa’s relationship, as both of them move further and further apart from the kind of civilized and obedient roles they occupied at the start of the series. Rather than simply viewing B&B as a transformative myth where the beast turns into a prince, Griswold reminds us that the true power of the tale lies in its ability to challenge our perceptions about Otherness, and holds considerable value for themes to do with agency, sexuality and love. As Griswold notes, and I think Martin discovered, 'Beauty and the Beast' is “good to think with.”

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Brashcandy, I know how much effort you put into this piece, and I thank you for it. It was a read I enjoyed, for you made it entertaining, and the quotes you provided both from the show’s dialogue and interviews to actors, producers and GRRM were very informative to me, and in some cases even startlingly familiar. This one by Ron Koslow, for example:



The relationship between Catherine and Vincent will be continually challenged by the fact that Vincent will remain who he is – a perfect man; ironically Catherine’s perfect soul mate – trapped in an imperfect body. The power of his character lies in the fact that he’s a survivor who accepts who he is, and continues to move forward.



The bolded part will surely remind you of what I once told you about the best explanation I knew on why Sandor Clegane is a character that fascinates both my analytical side and my reader side, though that was more poetic yet equally succinct and to the point as the quote above.



And then, also this quote by Ron Perlman:



I had played beasts prior to this. This is not only a beast, but a beast who lived as an extension of his pain every moment of every day, and all of that was there in the relationship with this woman who opened up all of these new feelings in him. It was just mind-blowing that somebody could come up with a character that crystallized all of the beasts which had ever been written in history, including the Hunchback of Notre Dame, the beast from the Cocteau film and the beast that I played in Name of the Rose. These guys, I always felt, had tremendous feelings underneath their ugliness and these things were always touched on by other characterizations, but never as articulately as in this version. […]



Definitely, I can see why GRRM would wish Perlman for the role of the Hound: he understands the nature and the psyche of the Beast in whichever of its incarnations, can get under its skin and convey to the viewer what lies beneath. I also wholeheartedly echo his admiration for how Martin reinterprets all the beasts into one, and he’s doing the same with the ASOIAF Beasts as we’ve discovered throughout the various analyses for the B&B project.



I just saw an incredible sensitivity on the part of the writer for this man’s pain and his ability to transcend it.



And the most fascinating part is that in the case of Sandor, GRRM’s achieving it without an actual POV.



As a side note, this dialogue caught my attention, for it shows that Martin is definitely getting inspiration/drawing parallels from his old screen scriptwriting for his literary magnum opus:



Catherine: You knew the boy he was, many years ago. You don’t know the man he’s grown into.


Vincent: I know his heart.


Catherine: I’m sorry Vincent; I can’t allow this to go on. There’s too much at stake.



That’s what you were told about Robert by your wife, Eddard. “You knew the man,” she said. “The king is a stranger to you.”



In sum, this piece’s a great conclusion to the Examining the Beauty and the Beast in ASOIAF project, the longest-running and most satisfying literary analysis project I’ve been involved in, and that contains such insightful pieces to which this one will be added.


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Nice posts Lyanna Stark and Brashcandy :thumbsup:




Like Milady, I also noted some similarities between B&B and ASOIAF. I find the quote about Catherine’s courage really similar to Bran’s and Ned’s chat at the beginning of AGOT when Ned says that courage and fear go hand in hand









Catherine: I’ve never been so frightened.


Vincent: Your courage saved our lives.


Catherine: I felt like I was losing the best part of myself. I would have done anything. It wasn’t courage Vincent… it was love.









“Bran thought about it. 'Can a man still be brave if he's afraid?'


'That is the only time a man can be brave,' his father told him.”





I think that Sansa also finds herself in a similar situation when she pleads for her father’s life. As Catherine, she doesn't acknowlege her own courage but she's also driven by her love for her father. She’s definitely not a passive character in that scene as she takes the initiative and dominates her fear in order to save Ned's life. And it works, for a while at least...


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Brashcandy, you actually made me want to watch Beauty and the Beast, which is something I never thought of before, despite all the talk about it I encountered on this and other sites dedicated to Martin's work. Congratulations! Also, many thanks for finding this quote of GRRM:

Thankfully, we were finally able to break through when the ratings were
strong enough and we earned a little freedom to do what we wanted.
These battles are worth fighting, because sometimes you lose them for
a while, but eventually the tide turns.

Those words, especially the part I emphasized, represent the attitude I find crucially missing from you-know-which-one TV show that also involves Martin. With yet another "best ever" season of that show approaching, this quote may be a valuable weapon in discussions with show-apologists.

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After having a short chat with brash I felt that now when we are nearing the end of the Pawn to Player journey, it's time for some thinking of projecting all this lovely knowledge into future possibilities for Sansa.

Inspired by DogLover's "Sexual awakening in the female Gothic" and Rhaenys Balerion's essay on Drogo and Dany. Both absolutely excellent reading.

On Sansa's future - Can we make any educated guesses based on other similar character arcs?

There has been a lot of speculation on what Sansa's future is going to be like, with theories thrown back and forth and nothing seems certain.

What has been made quite clear from the "Pawn to Player" threads and the other re-read threads is that the character arcs often parallel each other and they can work as mirrors of eachother. We've seen it with Dany and Jon, for instance, but also with Arya and Sansa, Sansa and Brienne, Sandor and Jaime etc. Dany and Jon have embarked on long journeys from inexperienced and untested through hardship into roles of huge responsibility. Arya and Sansa have gone from sheltered, somewhat spoilt and very much beloved children of a powerful lord and lady through beatings, war and despair into hiding.

Can we use some of the parallels we have uncovered in these other character arcs to project any sort of development for Sansa? I do believe there are a couple of clues lying around, and one of them may lie in Dany's story arc.

Dany goes from scared little girl to empowered khaleesi

Dany starts AGOT under Viserys' thumb and he makes her marry Khal Drogo. I will leave further commentary on whether Dany's and Drogo's relationship is problematic out of this, as it is a topic for another thread (and has been the topic of many threads in the past), but from how Dany acts in the latter parts of her relationship with Drogo, we can be sure that Dany did love him and would describe their relationship as a happy one.

Before Dany has her dragon dream and gets some hands on education from Doreah, she does not particularly enjoy her marriage and her new life. While her interactions with Drogo on her wedding night were quite positive, the life after that definitely wasn't. But then she has her dragon dream and a while after that she approaches Doreah and receives the tools that she needs to get to work out her sex life and by extention her relationship with Drogo. (Again, I won't comment on whether this is unproblematic, unrealistic etc. just pointing out what is there.) Dany becomes empowered. Through taking charge of her sexuality, she has gone from being a slave sold into captivity and has become a khaleesi. Instead of being acted upon, she is now acting upon an object [Drogo] and is making her desires known. She is the one telling Drogo no, not the Dothraki style and that she wants to see his face.

Dany is the one in charge here. She led him out and she is mounting him, not the other way around.

In a way, Dany is transitioning from a frightened little girl [childhood] into an empowered woman [adulthood].

Well, ok then, but does this have anything to do with Sansa?

Sansa has for a while balanced on the cusp of becoming an adult woman. Even if she is young in age, like Dany, she has been forced to grow up through hardship, and she is now about the age Dany is in AGOT, too. So if we take Dany's character development, and look at what we can find in Sansa's chapters, we'll find a couple of things.

Firstly, we have Sansa's own description of her awakening sexuality, from her rather dreamy throughs of stroking Loras' chest, to the unkiss scenario and the dream about Tyrion turning into Sandor in her marriage bed.

Secondly, we have Myranda Royce. She is introduced to the readest in Chapter 41 in AFFC, Sansa III/Alayne II. Myranda is outspoken and makes Sansa blush. From the very beginning Myranda is associated with sex and relationships.

Myranda wastes no time describing how her now deceased husband died while having sex with her and asks Sansa she indeed knows what goes on in a marriage bed.

Given that Myranda is outspoken and clearly sexually experience she may work in a similar way to Doreah for Dany. From what it looks like we may get more direct information from Myranda on the pages as she is a more versatile character than Doreah, being the daughter of a lord and with quite a lot of Westerosi gossip available. Myranda has already invited "Alayne" to share her bed and engage in "pillow talk" (euphemism much? :) ) so there is a good chance that Alayne will accept Myranda's invitation. Myranda in turn talks about Marillion and flippantly tells Sansa how she doesn't normally sleep with monsters.

Clearly Myranda has a good understanding of what she desires and how to go about getting that, too. This could be knowledge Sansa could use in a similar way Dany used Doreah's teaching to take charge of her own sexuality.

Both Sansa and Dany have experienced what it feels to be bartered like a piece of flesh on the marriage market, without having any say in whether the prospective husband is anyone they'd agree to marry and sleep with. The first step to resist that type of marriage is not just knowing what you don't want, but knowing what you DO want. Dany capitulated and married Hizdahr, but it made her depressed and she is at the same time clear on that she is attracted to Daario and much prefers him. Sansa got paired off with Joffrey, Willas and Sweetrobin, and once she got around to having Sweetrobin pressed upon her, she was determined to resist.

We also have Littlefinger, who is doing his damned best to groom Sansa to his desires. Perhaps one of the keys to Sansa resisting him is whatever Myranda can teach her about her own desires and sexuality. If Sansa herself is in charge of that, Littlefinger will not stand a chance in enticing her as we have seen she is not the least attracted to him.

Dany had a somehat related case with Ser Jorah when he kissed her and told her he wished to marry her, but she resisted. She was not attracted to Jorah.

Bonus possible controversy

Now, we've all heard that Sansa's chapter will be a bit "controversial". Few things tend to raise people's ire as much as female sexuality being described on the pages. For extra "controversy points" consider the following: we know that it's been speculated that Margaery may have engaged in some hanky panky with some of her constantly attending female companions. We also know for certain that it is not considered in the least strange for Queen Cersei to share a bed with Taena Merryweather. A more "hands on" teaching session from Myranda would absolutely send the "controversy points" sky high and also mirror Dany's interactions with Doreah and even Irri/Jiqui and would also add further furore because OMG lesbians. (Again, not putting any value on how this works out for the story or the novels as a whole, just that it has been used more than once before in both Dany's and Cersei's arcs tied into how they are experiencing and utilising their respective sexuality.)

Summary

To conclude, if Myranda can play a similar role to Doreah for Sansa, then we may very well see a similar development for Sansa in tWoW as we saw for Dany in AGOT. Instead of being disempowered and an object to be acted upon, she will take charge and instead act upon someone else of her choosing. This also ties strongly into both Sansa's and Dany's arcs which have circled around agency in general and female agency in particular as one of their strongest themes.

While Sansa has not yet had a watershed moment like Dany's dragon dream to start her off, she's quietly resisting Littlefinger in her thoughts (thinking she is the daughter of Ned Stark and Catelyn Tully, that Littlefinger didn't lift his little finger for her, etc) while she serves him lies and Arbor Gold to his face. With Myranda's informative presence and teaching, aka "pillow talk" we may yet see Sansa dodge Littlefinger and eventually lead her own Sun and Stars out on a field, under the stars and demand to take a good long look at his face. OK, maybe minus the field and the stars. ;)

May the screams and gnashing of teeth commence!

EDIT: For people wanting a more comprehensive write up on themes in Dany's arc, RhaenysBalerion did a really good one here in this post, if you scroll down a little bit. A lot of the themes from Dany's relationship with Drogo are also applicable for what we have seen with Sansa and Sandor, for instance.

A pretty big difference between Doreah and Myranda and what their respective lessons may be is that Doreah was a sex slave, while Myranda appears to be a sexually liberated woman who has sex because she likes it. Doreah taught Dany "pillow tricks" which she used to gain more power in her relationship with Drogo and influence him (the phrase is explicitly used when Dany had to use those to make Drogo go easier on Viserys), which makes sense since a sex slave would primarily be focused on how to please as a man, rather than on how to gain her own pleasure (except as much as her pleasure, real or faked, is something that a man wants to see). Some of the things I've noticed in the Daenerys re-read of AGOT are that whatever power she's gained in their sex life did not extend to her saying "no" to him if she doesn't feel like having sex, or even thinking that she could do that (in one of the later AGOT chapters, it's mentioned that she often feels exhausted because he's even more aroused now that she's pregnant) and their sex life is still often described in terms of him "taking his pleasure", while there are really no scenes, apart from their wedding night, where Drogo seems to be trying to give her pleasure or where her pleasure is even explicitly mentioned. And, obviously, a sex slave does not choose ho she has sex with, any more than Dany was able to choose when she was married to Drogo. She found him attractive and ended up falling in love with him, but she certainly did not choose him.

Therefore, I think that Dany's sexual "empowerment" during her marriage was relative (basically, making the best of what she was given) and that it was only later than she really took charge of her sexuality in the sense of thinking of it as something that is about her own desires. (I suspect that this may be the main reason why so many people seemed to to see her scenes with Daario as some incredibly extensively and graphically written porn, which they are really not; it reminds me of the recent articles about the MPAA rating system and the apparent habit of giving harsher ratings to sex scenes which show women enjoying sex, compared to those that show unresponsive or even unwilling women.) Which coincided with the time when she didn't have to use "pillow tricks" to have some power and influence, since she was a ruler in her own right now, rather than a ruler's wife who depends on him and his good will for any influence over her fate that she may have.

So, if Sansa's story of sexual awakening goes the way you suggest above - which I really hope - I'm going to find that story of sexual empowerment much more unambiguously positive and enjoyable than Dany's in AGOT.

Oh my, lol yea I prety much mused that the Controversy could be in the form of Sansa's awakening sexuality and the bloody thread got locked. People really don't like female sexuality, especially not adolecant female sexuality. the disgust people express over Dany/daario is a classic example of this.

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Love the essay brash! :)






Brashcandy, you actually made me want to watch Beauty and the Beast, which is something I never thought of before, despite all the talk about it I encountered on this and other sites dedicated to Martin's work. Congratulations!





I remember seeing the original and I absolutely loved it to bits back in the day. It's probably quite dated today, but still worth watching.








Oh my, lol yea I prety much mused that the Controversy could be in the form of Sansa's awakening sexuality and the bloody thread got locked. People really don't like female sexuality, especially not adolecant female sexuality. the disgust people express over Dany/daario is a classic example of this.






Nope, people often really don't like female sexuality at all, that's definitely the truth. :)



Annara Snow: I pointed out, as you state, that Doreah and Myranda are different types of characters and as you state, Dany's and Sansa's arcs are not interchangeable. However, from a thematic point of view, they share similarities and parallels, which was the point of the write up.




As a sidenote, would it be possible for people adding thoughts to not quote the full posts and just a part of them as it makes for extremely annoying reading when a very long post is quoted.


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After having a short chat with brash I felt that now when we are nearing the end of the Pawn to Player journey, it's time for some thinking of projecting all this lovely knowledge into future possibilities for Sansa.

Inspired by DogLover's "Sexual awakening in the female Gothic" and Rhaenys Balerion's essay on Drogo and Dany. Both absolutely excellent reading.

On Sansa's future - Can we make any educated guesses based on other similar character arcs?

<snip for space>

EDIT: For people wanting a more comprehensive write up on themes in Dany's arc, RhaenysBalerion did a really good one here in this post, if you scroll down a little bit. A lot of the themes from Dany's relationship with Drogo are also applicable for what we have seen with Sansa and Sandor, for instance.

Thank you so much, LS! I'm very flattered and glad you enjoyed the essay. Also, RhaenysBalerion's Dany/Drogo analysis is probably the best I've read on this forum and elsewhere. It really changed my perspective not only regarding Dany's relationship with Drogo, but also Khal Drogo as an independent character.

Loved the parallels between Myranda and Doreah. That's something I hadn't even considered before. Great job and good to have you back on the forum.

Brashcandy, I still need to read your essay (cannot wait!). Hopefully there won't be a lock soon. But if there is and I can't comment, I'm sure this is finally going to motivate me to watch the series.

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Lyanna and brashcandy just wanted to say thank you for two very thought provoking essays. I really do love the Doreah/Myranda parallels -- while not one to one I could see this happening as a general direction in the arc. And the gnashing of teeth that would ensue ;)



And brash, to echo Milady and Mahaut -- the parallels in theme and language that you chose to highlight are striking. Also, as far as Ozymandias goes... don't we also see echoes of that in Vaes Dothrak? Truly, exploring GRRM's past work is a gold mine and you've done a brilliant job here :)


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Greetings PtP!

When brash and Milady invited me to submit an essay here, I was honoured and couldn't say no.

This is the final part of the Male Influences Project, and focuses on the previously overlooked Lancel Lannister.

In contrast to the previous Male Influence pieces, this essay will look at Sansa's influence on Lancel, rather than the reverse. Milady and I decided that in this case, there was more to be learnt about Sansa and her role in the story - by examining their interactions from this angle.

I hope you enjoy reading it!

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Male Influence Project



Sansa's Effect on Lancel Lannister





When we are first introduced to Lancel in AGOT, he is a squire for the king, and immediately we learn that Robert's treatment of the two Lannister cousins is less than kind.



"My wife insisted I take these two to squire for me, and they’re worse than useless."



At fifteen years old, Lancel is becoming a man, yet this introduction frames him as timid and cowering—very much a boy. It's worth noting that at the same age, his cousin Jaime had won a tourney, fought against the Kingswood Brotherhood, was knighted for heroics, and was soon to be part of the elite Kingsguard. Lancel, in contrast, is portrayed as a mistreated lackey.



"Don’t just stand there gaping, Lancel, pick it up!” The lad jumped.



Despite Barristan and Ned finding the scene amusing, with the drunken king reducing the Lannister boys to tears, it's fair to assume that Lancel might have felt bullied and trapped in his role as squire to Robert. How frustrating his situation must have been, given his later confession in AFFC that his idol, role model, and primary male influence was Jaime.



"I only wanted...” Lancel shuddered. “Seven save me, but I wanted to be you.” Jaime had to laugh.



Jaime and Lancel are physically comparable, a likeness Tyrion noticed. The quite understandable ambition to be like a successful relative in this case has sinister connotations, which grow to haunt Lancel further down the line. Jaime notoriously murdered his king, and as Lancel supplying Robert with strongwine is presented as a poisoning-of-sorts, the squire followed in his cousin's kingslaying footsteps.



When Cersei invites Lancel into her bed, he is once again following the path of Jaime—losing his virginity to her at approximately the same age that his cousin did. So Lancel's aspiration to “be” Jaime has led him down a questionable path. With his mother far away, he seems to have no positive female influence, nobody to be genuinely kind to him. On the contrary, Cersei is taking advantage of him for her own gain. Lancel has a dutiful nature—it took him running for the breastplate stretcher, but also fit perfectly into Cersei's strongwine plot.



“A stalwart boy, Ser Kevan Lannister’s son ... I hope the dear sweet lad does not blame himself."



After taking to Cersei's bed and gaining a knighthood, Lancel's confidence increases. At this stage, his self-concept is no doubt more in line with his idol, Jaime. The ACOK riot scene in King's Landing shows us that he has also grown brave.



“Back to the castle. Now.” Cersei gave a curt nod, Ser Lancel unsheathed his sword.



Whether Lancel could have been an effective fighter against the mob is questionable, but this does not seem like the tearful, cowering squire we witnessed in AGOT. However, Lancel's bravery is questioned in his obedience to Cersei and Tyrion. When the Imp blackmails him completely with threats to go to Joffrey, his cockiness is washed aside very quickly. This is typical of a victim, and someone who still feels powerless underneath the bravado.



Then we have the most vicious beating of Sansa, the first time the two characters are seen together. Lancel is present as Sansa is to “answer for [her] brother’s latest treasons”, and it's clear she is about to be beaten. It's impossible to know what Lancel was thinking at that point, but perhaps GRRM is trying to let us know via Sansa's perception of him at that moment:



"there was neither pity nor kindness in the look he gave her"



Lancel might have related to Sansa here, watching a monarch be abusive towards a powerless victim, as Robert had been to him. The regret at the situation felt by Dontos and Sandor is easy to pick up on, but with the look Lancel gave, there is no reason to think he had any objections. He was a Lannister with values in line with Cersei and Joffrey: that it was OK to beat Sansa Stark. The lack of pity might suggest he even gained satisfaction from seeing the girl disempowered, not unusual for someone who has himself felt that desperation. Lancel goes on to deliver the false accusations that earn the innocent and defenceless Sansa “countless blows” and almost a sexual assault. The fact that it's Tyrion who saves Sansa is worth noting, for when the Imp later offers to match her with Lancel instead of himself, Sansa (although in a submissive, defeated state) does not object to maintaining the betrothal, partly on account of Tyrion's kindness here. The offer of Lancel is ignored; despite finding him “comely”, Lancel's part in the beating leads Sansa to accept Tyrion without hesitation.



The next time Lancel and Sansa are seen together is in the (apparent) safety of the Queen’s Ballroom, during the Battle of Blackwater. Lancel and his men were rumoured to be in the thick of the action, and there's no reason to believe he wasn't fighting well. He endures a painful wound that would nearly take his life. Trying to convince Cersei to let Joff join the battle is the first time we see Lancel act defiantly towards her.



"Gods be damned, Cersei"


[…]


“No!” Lancel was so angry he forgot to keep his voice down."



Here Lancel wants what's best for the troops and the people of King's Landing, and not what's best for Cersei. She responds by palming his wound, causing him to almost faint. In the absence of Cersei, Sansa changes the mood of the Ballroom immediately; she calms the women and exerts a positive and calming influence under terrible circumstances, as she thought her beheading was inevitable at this stage. Then comes a key moment in the study of Lancel and Sansa: she helps him at this most crucial point.



“Sansa went to Ser Lancel and knelt beside him. His wound was bleeding afresh where the queen had struck him. “Madness,” he gasped. “Gods, the Imp was right, was right...”


“Help him,” Sansa commanded two of the serving men. “Take him to Maester Frenken.”



Although this act of kindness causes Sansa some cognitive dissonance and she thinks she should rather be killing him, her merciful nature shines through. Given the confusion amidst the invasion, and the fact we see people running to avoid the injured soldier, it's quite possible Lancel would have not received the treatment he needed were it not for Sansa. This is something he was surely well aware of in the months spent lying on his recovery bed. When he arose, it was as a devout and pious man.



Before the battle commenced, we saw the people of King's Landing singing together, a communal prayer to ward off the horrors of war.



Across the city, thousands had jammed into the Great Sept of Baelor on Visenya’s Hill, and they would be singing too, their voices swelling out over the city, across the river, and up into the sky. Surely the gods must hear us, she thought.



Sansa witnessed this, and the song she sings with the crowds is rather fitting to the Ballroom scene.



She knew the hymn; her mother had taught it to her once, a long time ago in Winterfell. She joined her voice to theirs.


Gentle Mother, font of mercy, save our sons from war, we pray, stay the swords and stay the arrows, let them know a better day. Gentle Mother, strength of women, help our daughters through this fray, soothe the wrath and tame the fury, teach us all a kinder way.



It's not unreasonable to think that soldiers injured or in frightening positions would have thoughts of the Mother, representing mercy. And Sansa embodied the qualities of the Mother when she helped Lancel. In AFFC, when Lancel is discussing the moment he became decidedly pious, he pinpoints the influence of the Mother with saving him.



“When it seemed that I might die, my father brought the High Septon to pray for me. He is a good man.” Her cousin’s eyes were wet and shiny, a child’s eyes in an old man’s face. “He says the Mother spared me ..."



So Lancel believes he was spared by the Mother, and he must realise Sansa's actions in the Ballroom both helped to save him, and were in the spirit of the Mother. In retrospect at least, through his now pious lens, perhaps Lancel reflects on Sansa's kindness as a 'religious moment', one where mercy was given from the unlikeliest source —at the most desperate moment. The Seven is the only entirely faith-based major religion, instead of displays of magic, the facets of the Deities can be embodied by common everyday people, in their behaviour.



It's perhaps significant how GRRM chose to portray Sansa’s approach the injured Lancel:



"Sansa went to Ser Lancel and knelt beside him."



Sansa is kneeling, an act associated with both submission and prayer. The last time Lancel saw Sansa kneeling was back at the beating, just before his speech condemned her to the violence he watched from a short distance. How these two scenes must have replayed in his mind as he lay incapacitated: Sansa on her knees, once begging for mercy, and once offering it. Lancel then goes on to do some kneeling of his own, when in prayer during Jaime's visit, confessing his sins.



Following Blackwater, Joffrey's wedding is the next time we see Lancel, and Sansa is there too. His appearance has deteriorated to the extent he is comparable to a post-Ramsay Theon, an indication that his injury caused sustained and significant suffering, and likely emotional suffering as well. This adds further weight to the notion Sansa's intervention saved his life by getting him to the maesters in time. Having not left his sickbed in months, and looking like a corpse, Lancel's reaction to Sansa's kind and courteous words is telling.



His cousin Ser Lancel had been brought down by Ser Kevan, the first time he’d left his sickbed since the battle. He looks ghastly. Lancel’s hair had turned white and brittle, and he was thin as a stick. Without his father beside him holding him up, he would surely have collapsed. Yet when Sansa praised his valour and said how good it was to see him getting strong again, both Lancel and Ser Kevan beamed.



So, barely able to stand and not far from death, Lancel shone for a moment here. He's too weak to be insincere, so this might be an indication of the profound effect Sansa has had on him, and along with other significant factors, the moment of mercy perhaps contributed to a redefining of his character. Compare this moment to when Cersei, the woman he “loves”, visits him:



“Lancel, I am happy to see you looking so much stronger."


...


“There are outlaws in my castle.” Her cousin’s voice was as wispy as the moustache on his upper lip.



There is neither beaming nor happiness from Lancel in the passage. He maintains feelings for his cousin, but also harbours guilt and sin. Cersei's pleasantness is notably forced; she has ulterior motives for the visit. This contrasts with Sansa: although she was obliged to complement Lancel at the wedding, we can guess her courtesy came naturally to her, and there was little selfish intent.



Now Lancel enters a new phase of his character arc—remorse, piety and devotion. Radical changes in personality are often accompanied by influences both good and bad. Brienne seems to bring out the best in Jaime, set against the relationship with his sister. Perhaps a similar if less pronounced dynamic is occurring with Lancel; this time with Sansa's brief but significant influence being the foil for Cersei's poisonous control. They are certainly the two females with the largest impact on his recent life. His relationship with Cersei has steered him towards kingslaying, incest, and deceit, among other things. Yet, for all the affection he thought they shared, Cersei cared little for him or his life. This became apparent and the guise was dropped when Cersei aggravated his war-wound, effectively leaving him to die.



Sansa showed him kindness, mercy and care—some of the qualities associated with his new influence, the Seven. Lancel has made a choice to become virtuous in the eyes of the Gods. With his family wanting him to be a political pawn once again, and without underplaying the role of the High Septon's preaching, it's difficult to see where anyone in Lancel's story displayed the qualities of the Seven that Lancel now aspires to. Sansa and her benevolence is the exception, and must surely have played its part in his new found faith. With Lancel's confession to Jaime signifying his final repentance regarding his passions for Cersei and with Sansa long gone after the wedding, Lancel has decided to adopt entirely new female influences altogether: the Mother and the Maid. Lancel displays kindness, compassion and understanding in his time with Jaime; and like the Mother, perhaps Sansa Stark taught Lancel Lannister a kinder way.

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Male Influence Project

Sansa's Effect on Lancel Lannister

*snip

Brilliant essay yolkboy! :) I love the connections between Lancel and Jaime, Lancel and Cersei, Cersei and Sansa and Lancel and Sansa. Using the hymn of the mother, so integral to Sansa's whole Blackwater experience, and the contrasting images of Sansa kneeling to connect Sansa's mercy to Lancel's "conversion" is perfect. I never thought much about the impact their brief interaction would have had on Lancel until reading this, but now it seems clear that Sansa (and her mercy) must have played a pivotal role in his development. This will be a great addition to the influences project. Well done! :cheers:

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