stupid-sansa-meme-Sansa Stark has had a polarising effect on the new generation of Game of Thrones fans. While all of us were screaming for her to push Joffrey off the walkway, you may have fallen into the faction that passionately defends our damsel in distress, or you may have joined the ranks of the Stupid Sansa army.

Fact: “Stupid Sansa” and “Sansa push Joffrey” comes up in auto-complete on Google.

Or like me, you may be sitting on the fence, waiting. A decade-and-a-half and five books later, still waiting, for the now-heir of the North to come into her own.

 

 For the love of Dragons George, do SOMETHING!

But are we being unfair to our Stark princess? I have always suspected George deliberately placed Sansa in a cast of strong women to illustrate the reality of women’s lives in medieval times (and centuries after that). Women, “the frail sex” were the property of their husbands, raised to marry, breed, sew, sing and dance. And not much else. Sure they actually ran their family estates when their husbands were away, but if they became a widow and their husband didn’t provide a jointure they were at the mercy of charitable relatives, or the crown. In some cases even if they had been provided with a jointure they had to prise it from the hands of greedy relatives who disputed it. The wives (and families) of condemned traitors fared much worse, with all of the land reverting to the crown, they were utterly in the mercy of the monarch who executed the head of their house.

See: Sansa Stark.

This week Jamie Adair’s excellent  History Behind The Game of Thrones takes a look at Sansa’s roots in the prototypical medieval princess, how womanhood was a real threat to her and the parallels between her life and the life of Elizabeth of York, the first Tudor Queen and mother of the Tudor Dynasty.

Part one  The Origin of Sansa May Lie in Elizabeth of York

Part two Sansa Stark and Elizabeth of York: A Shattered Childhood

 

 

About The Author

Olga Hughes is currently pre-occupied with fairy tales, fantasy, misanthropy, medieval history and the long eighteenth century. She has a Bachelor of Fine Art from the Victorian College of the Arts and is currently majoring in Literature and History at Deakin. She has contributed to websites such as History behind Game of Thrones, The Anne Boleyn Files and The Tudor Society.

9 Responses

  1. Suzette R

    A decade and a half of waiting is an awfully long time. Sansa needs to get it together!! She’s living in a tough world and she needs to put the pedal to the metal and grow a pair. I mean, come on! Arya risks her life. Catelyn risked her life a couple a times. But not Sansa. She sits helplessly in the background.

    Reply
    • Olga

      She may be smarter than we think. She just needs to go one step further and be capable of actual violence. Violence would solve many ills for her.

      Reply
      • Harley

        What? Violence solves nothing. It’s the opposite of effective or smart. Especially on this show. Look where it got Arya, Mycah, Lady, etc.

      • Olga Hughes

        The remark was tongue in cheek. I wouldn’t use that scene as an example of where negotiation would work better than physical defence however. Arya was defending herself.

    • Brian

      In the words of Petyr Baelish, and the only one who puts any value on her as a person and not just a walking inheritance. She is a girl with no learning and scattered wits. You actually try to describe her as if she actively/decidedly makes decisions leading to her being in the situation she finds herself in. It couldn’t be further from her reality. The only “move” that she took upon herself was to betray her father which lead to his death. As well as igniting the Northern rebellion which led to the death of the rest of her family (as far as she knows). Every decision that she has made on her own has led to death and disaster. Most of what she does is forced or influenced by others. There are only two instances up until ADWD that this is not the case. The first is the aforementioned and the second was when she betrays her sister, which leads to Lady being killed.
      They do give her a “slightly” better image in the show as appose to the books. The scene with Bronze Yohn Royce and the others in the Vale is actually chalked up to her own quick thinking. In the book however, the situation is changed and she was heavily coached by Petyr. As to leave her to her own devices would have surely been disastrous once again. Her betrayal of Ned is also downplayed in the show.
      The only growth that she has shown so far as a character is her being able to use her sex appeal to influence men. This is hinted to at the end of S4 and shown in the new WoW Alayne chapter. This is likely due to the “lessons” given to her by Cersei and Margaery in King’s Landing.

      Reply
  2. Tatiana

    I don’t see how Sansa ISN’T already getting it together, to be honest. She stopped trusting the Lannisters after they betrayed her and her father, yet still learned to hide her hatred and play the dutiful hostage so that no one had an excuse to harm her. She saved Dontos’ life, which helped her to eventually escape King’s Landing. (Editor’s note – spoilers have been removed from this comment to protect the innocent reader who isn’t quite as far along in the story as yet) …that’s when her slowly building strength will show and she’ll take him out – or have him taken out.

    Now I will read your historical articles, which I’m very excited about. 😀

    Reply
  3. Jamie Adair

    In fairness, Sansa is not nearly as bad or naive as she used to be. I was actually quite proud of her when she resisted telling the Tyrells what she really thought of Joffrey, but then she told them. Still, she’s learned some really hard and terrible political lessons. In retrospect, I think the passive lady in her died when her dire wolf Lady died. I do feel a little bad about being so hard on her in my articles. But, I think it is really interesting how strongly people react to her.

    Reply

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