When You Use Violence as a Plot Device, You’d Better Make it Mean Something.


Game of Thrones – HBO – Sansa Stark

Sansa is the most interesting character right now on Game of Thrones. Why? Because she is the only female character still clinging to her naiveté. Though I do think that is about to change, for the better.

I’ve only read a few of the books. I stopped reading them when I got caught up in the TV show, as I didn’t want to feel any conflict between the story being created for television and the literary work. I don’t expect film to follow its literary predecessor to the letter. I don’t feel compelled to harbor that sort of expectation, so film doesn’t ruin books for me or vice versa. Film is a completely different medium, and my sole purpose for watching film created from books is that I am interested in the director’s and the writers’ interpretation of the original text: how they expand upon it, alter it, broaden or shrink its view. When I read, I am only concerned with my own interpretation. I’ll finish the books once the show ends, but to get back on point here: Sansa.

GoT is known for being a rapey violent show. The books are no different. That is how the world works, and these characters live in that world. It’s a primitive world. One filled with warring clans, much like our own as history has shown us over and over again. Much like our own today, except our weapons are a bit more sophisticated. That aside, I find GoT to be a very female oriented story. Women in the Ice and Fire world have no status beyond the property of men. In some countries, even today, women are still the property of men with no voice and no rights. In GoT, even highborn women — princesses and queens — are still subservient to their men: their fathers, their husbands, their kings. This is not fiction. That Sansa was raped by her husband on their wedding night was not surprising. This is not fiction. This is not cultural phenomenon. However, Sansa is an anomaly in the film GoT world. Why? Because she is the only lead female character who still clings to an outdated idea of woman.

All of the other major female players found a way to assert themselves beyond the constraints of woman. They are proactive. Offensive. Strategists in their own right. While the men are off doing men things like brandishing their swords at each other (yes that was a peen reference), the women sit behind the battle lines, orchestrating the real power shift. Except for Sansa.

Sansa is the ultimate pawn. Willingly so, I might add. So deluded with the fairytale idea of being a queen, she had no problem being sold off to Joffrey. Subsequently, a political turn of events saves her and she winds up married off to a dwarf as punishment. Luckily, Tyrion is a good guy (as good as anyone can be in this world) and her innocence remains intact. Joffrey’s ultimate demise puts her in hot water again, and yet again, she is rescued — by Littlefinger — destined to be another subservient pawn. Littlefinger is such a good strategist that the delusional pill he offers up to Sansa — that she will rule the north from her homeland — is not a difficult pill for her to swallow. Sansa has always clung to her delusions and has always allowed herself to be manipulated against her own best interests. Someone will save her: the Hound, Tyrion, Littlefinger. A man will save her, which is why she refused Brienne. Unlike her sister Arya who realized early on that men are not the answer and that she’d have to save herself, Sansa just takes whatever shit she’s dealt. She blindly sees herself as a survivor. As bad as things have gotten, she’s managed so far to keep her virtue unsullied, but this time, there is no one to save her from Ramsey. She’s been sold another bill-of-goods and another sadist. Ramsey is a critical catalyst here. He just is what he is. Ramsey is devoid of emotion, unlike Theon. Theon was a shit, ruled by emotional turmoil. His misplaced hatred and want for revenge against the Starks ruined him. He betrayed the people who treated him like family because of a delusion: that he had a birthright to something greater. He’ll have to confess to Sansa at some point that he didn’t kill her brothers, that they are out there somewhere. He’ll have to confess because Theon isn’t Reek. That he wept uncontrollably while having to watch his pseudo stepsister get raped proved that beyond a doubt, and Sansa isn’t a Bolton. She and Theon have both finally reached rock bottom. The delusions have been obliterated, and maybe now, Sansa will make a shift from passivity, find the courage to fight just like all the other ladies in this world, and maybe save a man in the process. I can only hope so, because rape isn’t something to be used gratuitously. I’ve used it myself in my own fiction, and so I know that it needs to be handled appropriately and with great care.


Comments are closed.