Throughout the history of, critics have had a Sansa Stark problem.
Sheis often portrayedas traditional, feminine, and therefore weak. Unlikeable, even. But that view is reductive and, in fact, I’d argue, merely plum wrong. Sansa isrevolutionary. Despite the years of conforming to Westerosi norms and unspeakable inhumanities she was both victim of and witness to, Sansa breaks out of these expectations on her own.
s Kaitlin Thomas wrote, An Open Letter to Sansa Stark: You’re Better Than This in response to Sansa’s actions in the season premiere, Dragonstone. In it, Thomas argues that Sansa’s actions in the premiere are hard to defend andeven make it hard to love her.
A recap: during thecouncil, Jon Snow, recently extol King in the North, announced today the Karstarks should be forgiven for their recent disloyalty( they fought against Jon for Ramsay Bolton last season ). Sansa, on the other hand, believes the smaller homes who showed up should be rewarded and the Karstarks penalise. She and Jon argue before Sansa ultimately defers to his judgment.
Some people, clearly, “dont like” that. But I say that Sansa Stark deserves our admirationfor her actions in Dragonstone. In fact, her actions build her even more likable than she was when she finally gave Ramsay Bolton his just desserts last season. Here’s why.
When I first started watching, it was hard to love or even like Sansa Stark. She seemed consumed by the prospect of marrying into a good family. But Sansa, when the present started, was a 13 -year-old girl in a feudal world which taught her that her worth was directly related to how well she could wed and what children she could bear. Since then, she’s been through trauma after trauma and survived.
The fact that, at the outset of season 7, Sansa is so outspoken and strong is nothing short of a miracle.
Thomas writes of the scene,
By[ arguing with him] in front of everyone, you undermine Jon’s strengths as a leader. He cannot be an effective and respected ruler if it appears that his family doesn’t even support him. That is Politics 101!
While the debate is awkward to watch, Sansa is. Jon’s actions say to the Karstarks( and others) that you can betray the Starks and still be welcomed back while simultaneously de-incentivizing smaller homes from helping in the future. That’s bad policy if the King in the North wants new bannermen to join him.
Thomas’s open letter demands that Sansa bites her tongue that shepubliclydefer to her friend, despite her posture as adviser lest his adherents lose respect for him. It’s a strange accusation: that she undermines him by speaking up. When should she speak up, if not at the King’s council?
If you look to other councils held in the universe, the purpose is to and dissent when necessary. While the monarch has final say, a good monarch listens to his council especially council members who have proven strategically savvy. She has done that and then some.
She saved Jon’s life last season by deliveringhim “the mens” he desperately needed to win the Battle of the Bastards even after he refused to listen to her. She also clearly cares for him, as we see in their debate after the council. She doesn’t want him to end up like their father, Ned, or their friend, Robb both of whom died, in part, because their inability to listen to advice from others isolated them.
Put yourself in her shoes.
Sansawatched her father kill her direwolf, Lady, at the direction of Cersei Lannister, despite praying him not to.
She watched her then-betrothed, Joffrey, sentence her parent to demise after “hes having” promised compassion and a life at the Wall.
Theon Greyjoy betrayed her family and exiled the Starks from Winterfell.
Littlefinger rescued her from King’s Landing and, little by little, constructed her trust, merely to sell her to the Boltons.
What genuinely proves me that her behavior isn’t inherently bad, that her unlikability isn’t due to her actions is Lyanna Mormont. Critics are giving kudos to the young Mormont for saying she won’t left open at home knitting by the fire.
And yet, Thomas’s particular piece penalizes Sansa for the same quality outspokenness for which Mormont is rewarded. It’s part of a long tradition of deriding Sansa.
To me, Sansa has blossomed. She is utterly likable. After everything, here she is: be permitted to voice her sentiment, be permitted to stimulate hard decisions even at health risks of seeming like she has betrayed her friend. She is a leader. She is the Starkwe have all been waiting for.
And I love her for it.