Let me come out and say it: Sansa Stark is one of my favorite characters from Game of Thrones, both the books and the series. Every time I say that she is in my top five along with Tyrion, Little Finger, Daenerys and Margaery I get this very puzzled looked of “why?”
It is not a secret that, even after what happened to her in her wedding night with the sadistic twisted Ramsay Bolton, she is still a hated character. I remember reading the books and having a strong sense of why is it that living in such an awful world, filled with treachery, blood, war, broken promises and men who disregard women this girl, this character doesn’t repel me? Why do I feel drawn to her, this Westerosi little bird when everyone is such a great fan of Arya Stark?
At first I thought I pitied her, but the more I read, the more I understood her and about myself I came to the realization that I love her precisely because she is that last shred of child-like naivete that Arya, in her tomboyishness doesn’t have. Don’t get me wrong! Arya is a great character and her fan base is entirely justified. We all know what she’ll become and how amazing it is that she does.
Yes, at the beginning Sansa was utterly utterly silly, bratty and her belief in romance, princes, castles and clothes was frustrating, especially when we know how much of an ass Joffrey was, but it seems we forget that she doesn’t know it, that she desperately wants to believe in a bright, sunny future where she can fulfill the role she was taught since she was a little girl. I guess I should add that I don’t blame Sansa for how naive she was, I blame Catelyn Stark.
So, what’s the issue with Sansa? Why do people hate her? It turns out it’s for something that I used to hate myself for. A lot of people hate her because she dares to be a girl in a fantasy world where we expect women to be the “strong, badass, female character” we can all root for, encourage to go back to claim what is hers “with fire and blood” or by being a very clever political player.
Despite what you might think Sansa isn’t the only one who has shown that being naive is counterproductive. Didn’t Rob marry for love and forgot his duty? I don’t remember an outrage against him when he basically got everyone killed because he fell in love, he believed in romance, in a happy ending, being king with the lady he loved by his side and a baby on the way. On the other side we have Ned Stark, his adherence to the nobility he was taught to believe in was is downfall, his honor helped events play an awful card for him. Isn’t that the same system Sansa followed? The same she was taught to honor and keep?
I’ve said so many times to my friends that for me she is one of the strongest characters in the books and the show. Even amongst all that has happened to her she still keeps that innocence she had when she was 11 years old and was promised to Joffrey.
In the ASOIAF women are presented with two choices: you either learn how to work the established system from within, which is what Cersei and Margaery do or you fight it from the outside, which is what Arya, donning in boy’s clothes, taking a sword and killing does or what Daenerys will have to do eventually when she (FINALLY!) reclaims her rightful throne.
My deepest belief, and I hope George Martin doesn’t dismiss this, is that Sansa will be the middle ground of both sides. People still believe she is this scared, little caged bird that needs protection, but her strength lies precisely in the fact that when other people has died, when they’ve had to run she’s endured, she remains. The North Remembers and she’s no exception. She’s not ruthless, she doesn’t wield a sword, but she wields a different kind of power: she survives and thrives where other character’s would have failed.