There Are No Heroes Left for Sansa Stark

This post contains some plot development mentions, so if you haven’t finished Season 1 of Game of Thrones/haven’t read the first two books, you may see spoilers.

Everyone has a special character they hold as a litmus test to gauge how decent another person is. (Don’t you?) Let it be forever known that my litmus test is Sansa Stark. In fact, I will go as far as to say that if you’re a person who wholeheartedly wishes the very worst for her, you probably hate women. Oddly enough, Sansa Stark is not my favorite character, but she is definitely one I feel very protective towards, which is why I’m establishing this credo.

This is partially a contrarian reaction to the vitriolic hatred she’s received from the fandom, but at the root of my defensiveness lies the fact that the unwarranted hatred of Sansa reveals the undercurrent of misogyny that runs within the geek collective consciousness. Even though there has been a little more love for Sansa lately, the hatred that still remains is absolutely ridiculous, and now that Season 2 is about to start, I’m not letting my guard down.

Arya Stark

Admittedly, it’s easy to dislike Sansa based on first impressions. Upon the series introduction, Sansa is an 11 year old girl (14 in the TV series) whose only concerns are her hair and various pretty things; she spends her time daydreaming of marrying a handsome knight, and she worries about not letting her bratty sister muss up her dress. She is willfully unsympathetic to her half brother Jon, aligns herself with her mother Cat (another much hated character), and is so painfully naive that it’s impossible to not grit your teeth whenever she talks. I will acknowledge that Sansa’s younger sister Arya, a charismatic tomboy, is more likable and easier to sympathize with, but this is the only allowance I will make. It’s still not enough justification for the undeserved and unreasonable hatred of Sansa.

It’s easy to lambast a character – I know I certainly liked to scream (and cry) over Ned’s lawful stupidity honor – but when does character critique overstep? In Sansa’s case, the conversation has long ceased to be a legitimate character study and has crossed a disturbing amount of boundaries into deranged hatred territory, all because she is a naive girl child. Seriously?

The Stark children (even Jon Snow) all have this willful expectation that they will always be met and treated with some modicum of honor and respect. This is due to their genteel upbringing with parents who, being parents, shielded them from the harsher realities of how ugly the world can be. Their physical isolation growing up in Winterfell only solidified this disconnect with the rest of the world. Is Sansa naive for trusting Cersei Lannister and thinking that marrying Joffrey is the end all be all? Absolutely. Does that make her some sort of villain who “deserves” to be raped, beaten, and killed? Absolutely fucking not.

What is it about Sansa that riles people up so? If it’s because she’s gullible and makes poor judgment calls, we need to remember that she’s barely a teenager, in the book or the series. In fact, whatever mistakes Sansa has made in the past, she has made up for it by learning really fast, the hard way.

See, if anyone’s to be at fault for Sansa’s questionable logic and tendency to trust bad people and run her mouth, it would be her parents. Sansa grew up nurtured with stories and songs about heroes and wasn’t told not to assume that the rest of the world would be just like the stories, full of good people like her parents. Because her parents didn’t think to teach her “stranger danger” or any modicum of self preservation, at the end of the day, Sansa is a child who happened to grow up thinking everything would always be okay. Those who want to scorn Sansa for her naivete and over reliance on stories and songs about heroes and epic deeds of old, should then also apply the same criticism to Arya. For Arya too, learns the hard way that there are no heroes, just self serving people, and the great warriors are morally ambiguous at best. In a sick sense, the sisters are granted their wish – Sansa to be a lady, and Arya to be a great warrior, except in true G. R. R. Martin fashion, it’s in the most twisted of ways. Sansa is a lady at court, but as a prisoner, while Arya may get to put her sword training to use, but only because she’s on the run and every second is a fight for survival. Neither path is what they wanted, and definitely not the stuff the expected from legends and fairy tales.

Sansa has absolutely no idea how to navigate her world, trapped countless miles away from mother and a pawn of people who only care about what’s between her legs and her claim to Winterfell. She is alone, physically and emotionally abused, and with a threat of rape at every turn. No one cares about her well-being, and the few who do have their own secret motives, are now dead, or too powerless to actually help her. Even her own brother didn’t deem her worth a ransom to get her back when he had the chance.

Sansa is always a prisoner because no matter whose “protection” she falls under, she ends up just further ensnared. The only constant in her story is the certainty that she is always in danger of being coerced. None of this matters to the Sansa haters, who viewed her as somehow being responsible for her father’s death and every other bad thing that’s happened to the Starks since the Children of the Forest roamed the world at large. What, was she going to somehow single-handedly swoop down, save her father’s neck, and fly off with him and Arya back to Winterfell to alert the rest of Westeros of the treachery? What’s a young girl really expected to do when she’s constantly sandbagged by adults? Even pros like the Lannisters at times find their backs against the walls. In fact, at this point in the game Sansa should be given even more credit, since she’s playing on par with some of the “big kids”.

There is an interesting plot note, which is a parallel that runs at the beginning of Sansa’s story arc that mirrors another young woman’s, in terms of maturing and character development under harsh conditions. That would be the fan favorite Daenerys Targaryen: the much beloved khaleesi, daughter of fire and blood, mother of all dragons.

While the two come from vastly different backgrounds, they parallel each other in ways others can’t. Daenerys is just two years older than Sansa and starts out the same way: painfully naive and timid, way too trusting and ignorant of how things work, and with no control over her life. So how did one ascend into becoming a solid favorite and a Westerosi Queen hopeful, while the other continues to be the most loathed?

Daenerys’ endearing qualities stem from her departure from “femininity”; she rejects the autonomy of King’s Landing and its system and jump starts her own kingdom by becoming khaleesi and embracing a foreign, “barbaric” culture. That she managed to hatch dragons, participate in battles, and start a sweeping revolution is undeniably impressive. Arya, too, has rejected the workings of Westeros to a lesser degree. But in this aspect, Dany is lauded for the same reasons as Arya – they are not “feminine” and weak girly girls.  Sansa on the other hand, does not have the luxury of being freed from the political system of King’s Landing and its predators.

There is no denying that Dany and Arya both fought and paid dearly, especially with the young khaleesi learning how to assert herself after a rather problematic first marriage. However, given her standing, Daenerys enjoys a degree of luxury to command others and bend matters to her will. Sansa on the other hand, doesn’t have the same resources. She can’t rampage the court and slay the Lannisters in an open battle: she’s just one girl, without even her direwolf. As the orphan daughter of a traitor, she is cautious and restrained; she bides her time making allegiances, doing things the boring and bureaucratic way. For whatever reason, this translates as her being indifferent, passive, and helpless, when in reality she’s just using whatever resources she has to survive.

Misogyny (internalized or not) is most decidedly at the root of the Sansa hate. It’s a fairly common, knee jerk reaction to loathe a female character who’s “weak and feminine” (as if that’s any sort of excuse). When fans discuss pitting Arya against Sansa, it’s just another sign of completely missing the picture. Each sister is playing to her own strengths and their situations are vastly different, yet they’ve both managed to survive because they’re playing the game. Sansa couldn’t possibly defend herself and fight the way Arya does, but Arya also wouldn’t last a day in Sansa’s slippers, lacking the finesse and perceptiveness. The sisters are two sides of the same coin. Is Arya a badass? Definitely, but she isn’t a typical Westerosi girl. Sansa’s plight is the more common one, and she’s shown herself to be a fast study.

Watch Sansa’s eyes in this scene (especially 1:25) where she not only threatens Joffrey and his big head, but almost pushes him off the castle wall (like the little shit would deserve).

Sansa has paid for the sins she didn’t even commit, with tears, blows, and blood. She’s lost or been separated from everyone who mattered to her, starting with her wolf. As the books (and future episodes) progress, the game becomes more and more dangerous for her, while she continues to fend for herself without any support. But if I’ve learned anything in this tumultuous, emotional journey full of tears and WTFs, it’s that everyone gets their dues, sooner or later. Sansa might look like a Tully, but in her heart she is a Stark of Winterfell, through and through.

One day, the young wolf will return to the North. Until then, leave Sansa alone.

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34 Responses to There Are No Heroes Left for Sansa Stark

  1. Katrina says:

    One word. Brilliant. Just truly amazing. Everything you said. Sansa’s not my favorite character but I never understood the unnecessary hatred towards her. I especially loved this part-

    “Sansa couldn’t possibly defend herself and fight the way Arya does, but Arya also wouldn’t last a day in Sansa’s slippers, lacking the finesse and perceptiveness. The sisters are two sides of the same coin.”

  2. Chai Latte says:

    Well said, well said. Sansa is my babygirl, and woe betide anyone who disses her in my presence. It makes me get all Lady Stoneheart up in here. You make a fantastic point–I think that those who hate Sansa really do hate women in general. Obviously so, since they don’t think her story is worth hearing. Those people, as far as I’m concerned, can get bent.

    Sansa. Is. A. KID. If she lived in a world like ours, she’d be in fucking MIDDLE SCHOOL, listening to her iPod and texting her friends.

    In WHAT universe is it logical to expect A PRETEEN CHILD to be able to navigate the same treacherous, volatile royal court that took the life of her father, a grown-ass man, for God’s sake? If this makes sense to you, clearly you have a problem with your soul being missing. Please, get that checked out or something.

    I’m noticing more and more that there is a LOT of hate directed towards teenage girls, something that disturbs and puzzles me a good deal. It tends to manifest most noticeably at things that teenage girls enjoy, and if teenage girls enjoy it, WELL, it must be WORTHLESS.

    The only point I disagree on is when you assert that Sansa is ‘willfully unsympathetic towards Jon Snow’. Maybe I missed something, but I cannot remember ANY point in the books where she is unsympathetic towards him. She doesn’t have that much interaction with him (is that what you meant?), and she refers to him as her ‘half-brother’, rather than the ‘bastard’ epithet employed by, well, pretty much everyone else. She even taught Jon how to talk to girls (the scene in the second book where he meets Gilly and says, “That’s a pretty name”, he remembers that Sansa told him that was a nice thing to say to a girl.)

    I’ve adored Sansa from the beginning. She made me smile, and I feel nothing but affection for her, both in the books and the TV series. (And can I just say that Sophie Turner as Sansa is OFF THE FUCKING CHAIN; she is fantastic at conveying Sansa’s naivety and vulnerability–and the Northern steel hidden underneath. Oh yes, it is there, all right.)

    And yes, I love that Teen! Sansa on the show has a bit of snark. It makes me feel better, knowing what’s to come for her, that she’s got some moxie in there. When the day comes when she’s powerful, WATCH THE FUCK OUT. She’ll take over Westeros, one Martha Stewart place setting at a time. Should be one hell of party. ;-D

    Here’s what gets me, though: her major ‘sin’ pretty much amounts to ‘trusting the wrong person’. DEAR GOD WILL NO ONE SAVE US FROM HER EVIL??!!! /sarcasm

    Meanwhile, we have a character that cuts people up for the lulz (Qyburn), though he says it’s for educational purposes, a character that PEELS OFF OTHER PEOPLE’S SKIN, while they’re still FUCKING WEARING IT, and then uses it for arts and crafts projects (Ramsay Bolton/Snow/Whatever), and, Walder Frey, who is hands down the worst host ever in Westeros history. I mean holy shit. And don’t even get me started on Gregor Clegane.

    But who does the fandom direct their haterade toward? The powerless teenage girl. I believe this may be what we refer to as a ‘LOGIC FAIL’.

    • Chris says:

      i dont think anybody in their right mind could equivocate Sansa with qyburn or roose, sansa’s going to be a badass though for sure

    • ladonna says:

      Oh you all are SO RIGHT. Sansa is going to be one BADASS WARRIOR. She is sucking up political and psychological strategy like a sponge. If you re-read the vision of Bran, Oh it’s Gregor alright, as Robert Strong. and he’s going to be fighting Sandor (who won’t or can’t fight). And it’s Sansa riding in on the back of the cream dragon TO MELT GREGOR AWAY. Don’t discount Sansa. Remember GRRM always twists these fairy tales. This time SHE’LL DO THE SAVING. And arya and her pack of wolves, with Nymeria, are going to hunt Ramsay down, hang him upside down. And arya is going to flay him. slllooowwwllly. HOUSE SIGIL BOLTON AS ART.

  3. koreofasphodel says:

    When I first read the book, I confess to having disliked Sansa. I mostly hated that she was so mean to Arya and came across as very snobbish. By the end of the book, I felt sorry for her and protective of her. Now that I’ve finished the second book, I’m amazed at how much my opinion of her has changed. She has one of the more interesting character arcs in the series, and I am rooting for her so hard. She might not ever be a favorite of mine, but I want to see her safe, happy, and loved.

    I really love everything you said here. You summed her up perfectly and made some especially interesting points regarding how she compares to Dany. I hadn’t thought of comparing the two before, but what you say makes sense.

    • Chai Latte says:

      What kills me is that Arya is not any nicer to Sansa, really. The snark they direct at each other is pretty equal. It isn’t that they don’t love each other, just that they don’t understand each other. You never love anyone–or hate anyone–the way you do your sister.

      In this way, they are no different than any pair of sisters I’ve ever met. If you think Arya and Sansa’s interactions are bad? You should have heard some of the horrible things my sister and I said to each other growing up–anyone would have assumed, witnessing those interactions, that she and I hated each other. Maybe we did, in the heat of the moment, when she stole my favorite shirt or I used her hairbrush without asking. But it didn’t last. We were usually on speaking terms again within the hour.

      Nowadays I would not describe our relationship as ‘close’–but I know that if someone ELSE messes with me, my sister is right there in a heartbeat–and vice versa. I think that’s what Sansa and Arya would eventually be, were they ever reunited.

      • koreofasphodel says:

        That’s a very good point. I don’t have any sisters, so I couldn’t relate to that type of relationship. I also tend to relate more strongly to Arya as I was very similar to her when I was her age. For that reason, I think I felt more protective of her than I did Sansa. That really was only my first impression, though. My opinion has changed so much. I do still love Arya, but I very much agree that she and Sansa are just two sides of the same coin.

        • Chai Latte says:

          I’m probably the Sansa in my relationship with my sister. I feel protective of both Stark girls–no kid should have to endure the things they have to endure.

        • Tanya says:

          I’m probably going to catch so much flack for saying this, but I always felt suspicious of siblings who were such inseparable best friends, with the same common interests, that they would never argue or fight. ;) They have to at least have some sort of secret fight club, or something. But then, I don’t have sisters and my brother is 5 years older than me.

  4. Tanya says:

    I’ve always had sympathy for the babies (I started with the first 2 books and then actually went through and watched most of season 1). I think I didn’t really have it brought home for me until very recently, though. When we put together our Geeking Out list and included a link to that video where the kids playing Arya, Sansa and Bran sang the show theme, all cute and giggly. (http://www.themarysue.com/game-of-thrones-kids-sing-the-theme-song/)

    Yes it was the actors singing, but just the fact that they were being so playful and having such a ridiculous fun time goofing around, it reminded me that the kids they portray in the series aren’t any different: they still want to play, and be together with their siblings even when they don’t get along, and they want to make up silly songs or just be allowed to be kids. The toughest thing to witness is how these kids are robbed of their childhood by the times they live in and the political landscape.

    I have a hard time extending this protective sympathy to Joffrey, though. That princely shithead is a whole other category. He has all within reach: an heir, a male, pampered by his kingdom and his overly doting mother. He gets the opposite: everything is his toy and plaything, and he has all the time in the world to never grow up.

  5. Chris says:

    Very interesting article, I had not considered this subject before, but it does seem to ring true, to a degree. I have not seen a whole lot of anti-sansa material before, so I am not sure exactly what you are referencing. But I think it is perfectly justifiable for someone to come out of the first book being resentful of her actions.
    It did not seem like you were a big Ned fan, or maybe you are, but he is by far the best and most likable character created thus far. People are easily drawn to him for one fairly big reason; there is no divide in his character between good and evil, moral and immoral. Ned seems to know whats right, and does it, and George does not really draw away from this while he is alive, or dead.
    So being such a polarized version of good, a trait almost never found in these books, you obviously want him to live. And in one of the biggest emotional roller coasters of the series, he dies. People were angry, sad, bitter. They want justice and answers for their favorite character’s death, so they look to Sansa, because she did so much to mess help out the other side.
    I blamed Sansa, partly, because her actions played a huge role in Ned’s death, and it was frustrating that she could be so dense. But subsequent books changed my mind completely, and she actually becomes quite strong, like her mother. Her use of courtesy as a shield is awesome. Some may have hated her for her weak, naive character traits, but she definitely becomes one of the stronger women in this series.

  6. Pingback: Thoughts on Game of Thrones: When Sansa Met Shae | Cryptic Philosopher

  7. Lindsey says:

    Late to the party on this, but thank you! Reading the first book helped me understand Sansa so much better. She was raised to be a lady, have good manners, and marry a lord. Even before everything goes down, she is does exactly what society expects her to do. If you hate that, you should hate that society, not the girl who was raised in it and must work within it.

  8. Harold says:

    I’ll go so far as to say you are guilty of misandry, you irrationally hate all geek men…

    Now that we have hyperbole out of the way, please realize the majority of Sansa hate comes straight from what they see in the show. Because you are a woman, you will see things differently than the majority of male viewers. You know what it’s like to be in a society where women are not equal and more is expected from them for little in return.

    Every character has faults, but the first season is magnified because the majority blame her for what happens to Ned. She was naive and foolish. She stood by as her little sister was attacked and nearly killed by Joffrey. Then, when she’s called to testify before the King (who is her father’s best friend mind you), she lies because it would ruin her chance to marry Joffrey and be queen and have golden-haired children etc. That is what she wanted out of life.

    Then, she has the gall to blame Ned for her Direwolf Lady’s death and says she’ll never forgive him. Maybe if you had some integrity and took notes from your little sister or father, your direwolf would be alive.

    Having read the books, I won’t spoil much but I’ll say I can’t wait to see Sansa in season 3. The death of her father and the REAL cruelty of Joffrey has transformed her and she’ll redeem herself eventually.

    • Tanya says:

      If we take out the beginning part of this comment, it reads like 100s of other comments online that had actually inspired this post in the first place. So this isn’t a new opinion, and we certainly get that a lot of people feel this way, and it’s clear not everyone is going to agree but…

      I’m getting a whiff of rigid gendered thinking here. You make a logic leap in assuming that the hyperbole in the opening paragraph of the post is aimed solely at geek men. Believe it or not, there are plenty of women who hate other women, geek or otherwise. So no, there’s no misandry here (nor is there any on the show). And really… “Because you’re a woman…”? Compassion isn’t a strictly feminine trait.

      Well, you tried.

      • Bia says:

        Now, hating one female character is hating women. I don´t blame her for Ned´s death, but strikes me that she always do what she´s told and the only moment of rebelion is against her father that was the last move that led to his death. I totally agree with Harold, and I must remind that Sansa reacted to Mycah´s death as it was nothing.

    • Mila says:

      See, I feel like your point = taking everything at face value. Sansa blames Ned because a. she’s incredibly upset and disappointed that he couldn’t save lady, and b. because she can’t handle placing the blame on her future husband and mother-in-law. Lady’s death hits her hard, and she can’t begin that healthy/happy relationship she’s always imagined (thanks to Ned/Cat) with someone she’s furious with and feels betrayed by. Basically, she’s trying to smooth over whatever cracks are starting to form in her fairy tale. Yes, she’s willfully lying to herself, but when you’re 11 and betrothed to a future king who suddenly exhibits a side of sadism, you shouldn’t be expected to handle it well.

    • moushkas says:

      “Because you are a woman, you will see things differently than the majority of male viewers. You know what it’s like to be in a society where women are not equal and more is expected from them for little in return.”

      This is sexism, sir. What difference does it make regarding gender and seeing the way the society is in the novel. I think you’re missing the whole point of the Game of Thrones, books or otherwise. It doesn’t take a vagina to notice injustice, unless you’re admitting that having a dick means not having the ability to make an OBVIOUS observation.

      The world is all about places that people are put into. Everyone is a chess piece that can only move in certain ways on the board. Those who aren’t moving in pattern are casted from the board as dead or exiled. Sansa is trapped as a rook and that is how she has to move until she can take over the queen.

      Please rethink the assumptions you make based on gender. They aren’t right unless you’ve met every person in the world.

  9. Christopher says:

    Hello, I was wondering if I could please have permission to use the picture of Arya Stark in this article for a GCSE course I am currently undertaking, this course is very important to me as I need to complete it to take this subject further and get into a college or university which will give me a much better chance of getting a job.

    Yours faithfully
    Christopher Peet

  10. Grant Watson says:

    I haven’t read the books, but I’ve watched Season 1 of the series, and Sansa is one of the characters I immediately gravitated towards. She’s very believable: she’s a relatively self-centred, spoiled teenage girl who only discovers how appalling her situation has become once it’s too late to change it. I feel so sorry for her, and desperately hope she finds happiness by the end of the series.

    I like the character because, unlike most in sci-fi/fantasy TV, she feels like a real person to me. She has flaws.

  11. fasdfas says:

    i hate sansa because she’s a treacherous little shit, siding with complete stranger assholes while ditching her own family, not because of her feminity.

  12. Travis says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with the majority of what you’ve written here. Sansa deserves a lot more credit than she usually gets. She’s clever and sharp in ways that Arya is not, and is a complex character, certainly deserving of our sympathy and empathy, and certainly not “deserving” of what comes to her.

    However, I feel I would disagree with you on one major point – I can’t speak for everyone, of course, but for at least some of us who are not the strongest fans of Sansa Stark, I think our distaste stems not from misogyny, but from the opposite – feminism. While there are certainly multiple threads of feminism, one is the argument that women should not have to adhere to standard gender roles. Arya, Brienne, and Danaerys are excellent examples of strong female characters, playing against standard gender roles in different ways. Catelyn, Cersei and Margaery show their strength within standard gender roles, showing their skill, talent to use the power they have as wives, as mothers, as sisters and daughters, as women of the court & of the nobility, through their expertise in social machinations and pure strength of personality. But Sansa plays right into all the stereotypes that feminism tries to fight against. She’s prissy and fussy, attacks her sister for being too dirty and grubby and boyish, and wants nothing in the world more than the stereotypical princess fantasy of living in a pretty palace with a charming prince and getting to wear pretty dresses all the time. I’m not saying there’s any real reason to “hate” her, per se, and she certainly does provide a diversity of personality types among the cast, playing another side of the coin, as you say, as compared to certain other characters. But, from a feminist point of view – not, I should hope, a misogynistic one, since I’d hate to think myself misogynistic – she’s hardly the model character.

    • Tanya says:

      Actually, even some of the best intentions of feminism still carry with it internalized, subtle misogyny. While I wholeheartedly agree with you that diverse deviations from the “standard” notions of femininity in this show make for complex and interesting female characters, what ends up happening is that it’s still implied that believing in fairy tale notions of a prince charming, wanting to get married and wear frilly dresses, etc. are somehow less than desired. It carries with it that such qualities, being the most “ladylike” are thus unpalatable. Which is actually a misogynistic notion, that the most blatant representation of “femininity” is actually bad. What feminism strives, or should strive for, is that there is no right or wrong way to be a woman. There are ways to be good or bad people, however, and in Sansa’s case, many of her personality flaws are the result of a) she is who she is, her own person and b) she’s still a kid. She’ll figure it out, if she’s given the chance.

      This is a good read on internalized sexism, of which we all can be at times guilty, with some links and quotes. http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2007/10/20/internalized-sexism/

      And I hope you don’t take away that I’m accusing you or anyone else of being a bad feminist or misogynistic. Your comment is thoughtful and interesting, but it also brings up some those things that still need discussing.

    • Lois Lois says:

      I’d argue with you that Brienne is a very feminine character – her exterior may cause the reader to believe that she’s going against gender norms at first glance, but when you take a deeper look at her character, she’s basically Sansa, except in armor.

      I also differ from your point that Sansa plays into “stereotypes feminism fights against” because under feminism, a woman can wear skirts and be pretty if she wants, be as vain as she likes, or go in the complete opposite direction. Sansa doesn’t owe it to anyone to be a “model character”, because that’s the beauty of feminism.

  13. Isa says:

    Wow, I couldn’t have said it any better. From the beginning of the books, Sansa has always been one of my favorite characters. When I learned that she was one of the most hated ones from ASOIAF, I felt confused. I like how, different from Arya, she truly grows up mentally. She gets woken up out of her fairytales and dreams of marrying a brave knight or prince the hard way. Arya might be the one who fights her way through everything, but Sansa’s the one who truly uses ratio and who, time after time, tries to come up with ways to stay alive, even if she has to betray her own heart and mind. And that’s also why I hope that the two of them will meet up again in the end (and actually form an alliance) because they obviously need each other and like you so beautifully said, are “two sides of the same coin”. Imagine if you where a 12 year-old girl and you had to go through stuff like that. I don’t think a lot of us would take up a sword and start beating the crap out of everyone (Cersei, Joffrey, Littlefinger …). I think the reason why I like her so much, is because she seems, to me, the most realistic character and that’s what I like to see in a fantasy series like ASOIAF. Because, in a way, we want to be able to recognize ourselves in the characters. Perhaps that’s also why Sansa’s character receives so much hate. Because, even though we don’t like to admit it, we would do the exact same thing. Although, I would probably already be dead by the end of the second book.
    Like Tyrion said: “Lady Stark, you may yet outlive us all in the end.” (or something like that) and I truly hope she will.

  14. CatONineLives says:

    Interesting points; Personally, I think some of the ludicrous hatred for Sansa comes from younger female fans. It reminds me of being at school and seeing the shy, pretty feminine girls being bullied by the rough tomboys (who also used their loud mouths and masculine traits to hide a range of insecurities). Teenage girls can be strange, somewhat vicious, creatures, many of them detest “competition” in whatever form it takes, a young, intelligent girl who loves beauty and “girly” things is like a red rag to them. There doesn’t have to be any logic behind the hate other than “She’s just…ugh”, which I’ve actually seen too many times to feel comfortable with. In comparison, the adoration that the TV version of Ygritte gets is depressing to me. She’s done nothing but sexually harass one of the sweetest characters, cold heartedly watched him kill a man he was obviously upset about killing, and gurned smugly at him in every single damn scene they shared. Possibly some of the Sansa hate and the Ygritte love are symptoms of the dumbing down of society and even the ugly face of modern feminism where women think acting like aggressive men is “cool” and “badass” and women who are “girly” are despised.

  15. Jess says:

    My personal distaste for Sansa comes from the fact that she was, during the first book/series, SO caught up in her fantasies of becoming Queen and being part of the royal court that she was willing to treat her entire family with disrespect and disloyalty. She made her position at court the most important facet of her life and was willing to sacrifice her sister and father in order to achieve success. Even before her betrothal she was vain and selfish and mean to her sister and generally rude except when social norms dictated politeness.

    I don’t think, for a minute, that she intended to cause Ned’s death or that it was something she could have prevented. I do, however, believe that she caused the death of a young boy and of Lady and forced Arya to chase Nymeria away because she was incapable of considering the needs of others or the larger repercussions of her actions. Her fear of MAYBE falling out of Joffrey’s favor outweighed her loyalty to her sister and father time and time again. I don’t feel that those actions in any way deserve to horrible level of cruelty and abuse that she’s faced since but I also have trouble knowing if she would have grown as a person had she not lost her father and sister in King’s Landing.

    If things stayed relatively safe, would she have become so strong, would she have treated the people most intent on protecting her with more kindness? She’s an incredibly interesting character, and in the context of her current setting, a very strong and very brave one. But I have trouble telling if I would like her as a person had she not faced her current trials. If she’d never HAD to fend for herself, to strategize and to fight, would she have stayed just as vain and horrible as she was before? Yes, she was a child, but as a child I’d never have sacrificed my little sister for wealth and popularity. It’s the fantasy equivalent of getting your sibling and their friend sent away to boarding school or juvie because your crush beat one of them up and asked you to cover.

    So I don’t like Sansa as Sansa might have been in her ideal situation but I do like the person Sansa’s become, even if I don’t wish her the horrible life that led her there, if that makes sense.

    • Tanya says:

      It is so interesting to think about how any of the characters would have panned out in a less challenging, dangerous environment. (But then we wouldn’t have that much of an interesting book/series, right?) You’re right on point with the person Sansa is becoming; she’s going to be more and more amazing, I just know it. I think I had more tolerance and sympathy for her, even when she was acting in the most entitled spoiled way, because I found myself thinking that I might not have made decisions that would have been that much better, as a teenage girl. I also found myself getting more angry with Arya on occasion, because she did a lot of very willfully disobedient and reckless things that could have backfired a lot worse, for her and her parents. Anyway, I appreciate your thoughtful comment.

    • Vicky Chapman (@Yowie9644) says:

      Sansa behaves just like a young teenage girl with ‘princess’ idealization, who firmly believes she is in love with Joffrey. I don’t think she had any understanding or appreciation of the very real and tragic consequences her actions would have on her family – but thats how teenage girls often are, particularly ones that still believe in the “Handsome Prince” fairy tale. The shattering of her fantasy world is brutal and swift, but she is a quick learner, and figures out how to play the cards that have been dealt to her. The way she chooses to plays the game – through “proper” court behaviour – is far more subtle than Arya, but like her sister, she uses her own personal strengths to her advantage.

      Like others have expressed, I hope she and Arya learn to work together. They have complimentary skills and would be formidable as an alliance.

    • Elemeno P. says:

      This times a million. Of course Sansa has changed…she’s very plainly been shown the error of her ways (as a Philadelphia Eagles fan, I’m very much thinking Michael Vick here if you’re familiar with his story). However, when she was given a chance to “do the right thing”, she completely flubbed it. Yes, she’s a kid and I do blame her parents for not raising a child with a little more concern for things outside of knights, royalty, etc. But there were several chances for her to come to her family’s defense during the events surrounding Nymeria’s attack on Joffrey and she didn’t come through. That doesn’t mean I hate Sansa but I’ll never truly like her. Sorry.

  16. Emy says:

    It is typical for people to hate characters who have weaknessess that they themselves possess. People long to be like Arya (living vicariously through her spunky deeds) and they despise Sansa who represents their vulnerability. Decent people have compassion for Sansa because they can empathize with her plight. Do you think all the people who hate Sansa are brave and speak up and act like heroes? Nope.

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