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.