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Lessons through humiliation

Updated: Nov 15, 2018

Young Lady Sansa Stark slowly learns to play the Game of Thrones

Sansa Stark learning to play the Game of Thrones
Art by Irakli Nadar

As a writer, George R.R. Martin is unique in many ways, but most evidently, in his use of literary devices and consistency throughout the books, associating style to character, which keeps the readers’ attention and focus, all the while changing pace from one POV to the next. The consistencies are shown in countless characters that are loved by some fans while hated by others as they shift inside their grey areas.

One such characters is Sansa Stark. Written at first as an airhead, naïve and with no sound judgement, Sansa is ambitious, dreams of being above her family and to have people grovel at her feet and despite the constant not-so-subtle demonstrations of the truth around her, she can’t see past her own judgment and prejudice, which brings her to more and more pain as the story evolves. Eventually, it seems, she will learn and there’s every indication is that she will become one of the best players in the game.

Thanks to the terrible education provided by a suspicious septa, with the support of a prejudicial mother, Sansa shows her less than flattering self in A Game of Thrones, starting as her sister’s bully and evolving into a liar to protect her betrothed, running to the queen when things don’t go her way and considering her family indebted to her once she imagines herself saving them. She couldn’t see how her marriage would never take place. Once her father is murdered right before her eyes, she slowly starts to have the lies peeled off and she sees the truth, despite her inability to act upon it, develops a denied romantic interest towards the Hound, evolving to lie to herself that she was kissed by him, although that kiss never happened, then falling back into the naïve dreamer when she considers marrying into the Tyrells. Every single one of those times, the brutal reality is brought back to her through public humiliation and victimization and although she becomes a sad character, her prejudices and poor judgement reign supreme and she continuously hurts those who stand by her because of their appearance, until she eventually starts to recognize that they are not the enemy.

The greatest difficulty with Sansa as an attractive character to those who don’t romanticize her image but rather accept and read her as she was written, lies in the fact that she never shows any remorse, compassion towards those she wronged and she never regrets her wrongdoing despite her pain, and her prejudice is reflected time and again.

Unfortunately, Sansa was so deeply brainwashed as a child, that although she eventually concludes that there are no heroes, she still falls for the songs, thinking that Ser Dontos could be her savior. Interestingly enough, all the while she is saying there are no heroes, her “bastard brother” is written as an exact parallel to her ideas, showing the reader he is not only honourable, but also a hero like the ones in the songs. She falls prey to Littlefinger, but again, during Arya’s chapters, she is highlighted as the person with poison in her hair and the one who will kill the giant who destroys her snow castle, as a clear evidence that she will bring Lord Baelish’s downfall.

She is playing her part as a natural daughter to the most terrifying character in the books, learning incredible lessons and slowly becoming, for the first time, interesting and insightful. As she accepts to be betrothed to a kid who wants nothing to do with her, she learns yet another lesson, because as Littlefinger’s scheme goes sour, she is, once again, humiliated.

Unable to see his own mistakes, he is surely going to try to offer her to another possible ally, in this case, someone like young Griff, who needs all the help he can get. While those plans take place, she learns yet more lessons and by the time the Vale ends in the hands of Daenerys Targaryen thanks to the debt a little lion has to pay the mountain clans, Sansa will likely be a most knowledgeable player holding all cards in her hands.

#SansaStark #LearningToPlayTheGameOfThrones #ASOIAF

Lessons through humiliation

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