Why Sansa is Important
I actually find Sansa Stark to be a very interesting character because she shows how dangerous the patriarchy can actually be to women. I believe that Sansa is George RR Martin’s answer to the question of what happens to women who don’t fight against the social structure.
Game of Thrones is full of women who disregard traditional feminine roles (Brienne, Sansa’s sister Arya and Dany are the most notable) as well as women who seems to fit those roles on the surface, yet disrupt the patriarchal culture behind the scenes (Catelyn Stark, Cersei Lannister, Lysa Arryn etc).
Then there is Sansa, who completely bought into the idea of women as meek, feminine creatures who were supposed to be protected by strong powerful knights. Many GoT fans forget how young Sansa was at the beginning of the book series (twelve). Throughout the first book and first season of the TV show, Sansa comes off as a naive and somewhat bratty girl, which are traits that are not uncommon for pre-pubescent girls.
Sansa’s entire reality is wrapped up in her belief of how the world should be, at the tender age of twelve years she has not the wisdom or worldliness to understand the reality of King’s Landing. Fans often compare Sansa to her sister Arya, who by all accounts is a complete badass. I think that this comparison is unfair to Sansa, throughout the books Arya’s strong personality and willful disposition are extremely clear. Even Catelyn Stark admits that Arya was incapable of taming even when she was a child.
Sansa on the other hand seems to be a natural people pleaser and much less strong willed than Arya. I believe this comes down to a difference in personality rather than a difference in moral character. Anyone who has worked with children will know that each child is born with their own disposition and often times siblings can have very different personalities.
Sansa wanted to please, thus she easily fell into the role of the perfect little lady of Wintefell. Arya was Arya and because of who she was, found it difficult to fill this role because of her personality.
Thus, I think it is unfair to judge Sansa because as a child she fell into the role that was expected of her. Most children who want to please those around them will act the way they are told.
This is why Sansa’s character is so important. Sansa is the epitome of a woman who bought into her social role wholeheartedly. As a twelve year old girl, she had not yet encountered enough of the world to question this.
However, we see the reversal in Sansa after her father’s execution. Sansa’s last chapter in GoT is probably one of the saddest in the series because it is when she realizes that everything she believed in is essentially a lie. This is captured in the famous “there are no heroes” line.
By the time Sansa questioned the social structure, she was already a hostage and a punching bag for Joffrey. That is the tragedy of Sansa, just when she realizes the world is a far different place from what she thought, she is powerless to stop it and is subjected to the harsh realities of a male dominated world.
Sansa is a cautionary tale about why the patriarchy is so dangerous and why young girls must be taught how dangerous it is. Because of this, I’ve always found Sansa’s story lines interesting.