Some Thoughts on Sansa

I’ve blogged before about why Sansa is my favorite character in Game of Thrones, and other people have blogged better in defense of her being a feminist character. Yesterday Anne Perry at Pornokitsch posted an excellent essay that I almost entirely agree with (I particularly enjoyed the part about the princess-in-a-fairy-tale trope reversals), in which the salient point is that we may like Arya, we may identify with Arya — that Arya, who bucks the system and swears vengeance does what is right and proper in fantasy texts — but Sansa is who we are. (In fact, it calls to mind a great essay I can’t find — maybe by Mark Millar? — positing a similar argument about Batman and Superman, respectively.)

Though she, like all of the female characters in Game of Thrones, is problematic. In a world in which the characters are, if unsubtle, generally complex with several competing motivations, most of the female characters’ can be distilled into one essential desire or value: to be queen (Margaery); to obtain power (Cersei); her children (Catelyn); revenge (Arya); honor (Brienne). (I’m not even going to go into Daenerys’ legion problems.) Sansa’s motivation is also singular: survival. Though, as the narrative progresses, this is a change from the desire for the fairy tale ending promised in stories, and I always thought this meta-fictive element made her more interesting than every other character.

Sometimes I want Sansa to win the Game of Thrones; sometimes I want her to eschew male society altogether — poor girl gets perved on in every single book — to become a Septa, a guide for some other future queen of Westeros.

But that’s neither here nor there, and not just because it’s pretty clear that nothing that anyone wants from ASOIAF will ever happen. The only point I disagree with in the linked essay is the metatextual paradigm on which it is based. Why does a Sansa v. Arya argument (of which this is far from the first, if it can even be described that way) even exist?

Is there one for Jon versus Robb? Tyrion versus Jaime?

Not that I know of. And why not? Rivalries between those two pair would have greater stakes, would they not? They each have a clear underdog, with Jon as bastard, hated by Robb’s mother, and Tyrion as dwarf, hated by the Lannister patriarch. Neither of these two stand to inherit, but both are set up as more prominent characters within the text.

Sansa and Arya — virtually equals in power — have, what… different hobbies and envisioned futures? Different personalities and goals? And this is the basis for their rivalry, on which fandom invectives and flamewars are based?

I think that discrepancy is worth taking a moment to reflect on.

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3 Responses to Some Thoughts on Sansa

  1. I’ve also found that Sansa is increasingly fascinating as the story goes along. One of the things I like about GoT is that there are so many intriguing female characters. I’ve never felt a need to pick an allegiance from among them, but I am starting to wonder if Sansa, for all that she started less sympathetic, may end up the sanest and most reasonable of them all.

  2. Nathan says:

    Sansa may be my favorite character as well, and there is a growing group of people who think she is going to come out of this whole thing ‘the winner,’ in what ever messed up form GRRM decides to do so with.

    I do think there is a bit of a Tyrion vs Jaime thing out there, tough I agree with your larger point of the lack of need to compare every female character only to each other.

    • cecilykane says:

      Ah, I do hope so! Really hoping that prophecy Cersei is so concerned about deals with Sansa rather than %$@#ing Daenerys, who is basically just a Mary Sue product of the male gaze, IMO.

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