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Monday, June 6, 2011

A Defense of Sansa Stark

Sansa Stark is taking a beating, on the show Game of Thrones, in the novel "A Game of Thrones", and on the Internet. Sansa is probably the most misunderstood character in the series and I'm sympathetic towards her. She's probably in the toughest spot of all the Stark kids.

The thing with Sansa is she's a Disney princess; she's consciously designed by George R.R. Martin, I think, as a commentary on a fairy tale princess in these types of stories. Unfortunately for Sansa, Game of Thrones is the opposite of a Disney movie. 

Sansa's whole life has been a fairy tale; a highborn girl born to one of the most powerful Lords of the Seven Kingdoms, and she was fed tales of knights and chivalry since the day she popped out of Catelyn's womb. Her life got even more fairy-tale-ier when she got engaged to Joffrey, the crown prince of Westeros, who is now King. This should be awesome for her: she's one wedding away from being Queen.

Except it's a horrible nightmare. Her father's imprisoned and condemned to die as a traitor, everyone in her household is dead, her sister is missing, and her family is now at war with her future family, whom she is now a hostage to. You can say she brought it on herself, like when she chose to lie for Joffrey and it got Arya's wolf banished and her own wolf killed. But she's going to marry Joffrey and be Queen so she thought she was doing the right thing. Her family wants her to marry Joffrey, right? Isn't she one wedding away from the Lannisters being her family too? 

Remember, Sansa is a kid. She's thirteen. Maybe she should know right from wrong, but this is a world where what seems right can do an incredible amount of wrong. Ask Ned about that. Sansa is  Tween age and couldn't yet comprehend, or wanted to comprehend, what we're privy to: how incredibly dangerous, backstabbing, and fucked up the politics are in King's Landing, which her father was trying to shelter her from. 

Sansa's great sin is placing her future family the Lannisters ahead of her own. She is just really beginning realize, too late, that the Lannisters are a nest of vipers. But she's still bound by oath to be one of them. It's a terrible position to be in, especially as a young girl now alone with no family or family friends, all of whom are dead, on the run, or imprisoned.

And look, Ned Stark is smart, courageous, noble, and well-aware of what he was getting into and he made a royal mess of things, so how can one reasonably expect better from Sansa? Unlike her brothers or even Arya, Sansa's not physically and emotionally equipped for the hell that's happened and is about to come. I can't help but feel bad for her.

Also, Sophie Turner is great as Sansa Stark.

Here's a very good piece on The Sins of Ned Stark and how they've affected his children.