Sansa Stark is on the receiving end of endless disdain and dislike. She’s probably the least liked character in the Stark family and close to the bottom of the pile of all the players in Westeros. Yep, she ranks alongside the hated Joffrey and Littlefinger for some. What did this young girl do to deserve our ire? Mostly, she believed in a fairytale.
In stark contrast (pun fully intended) to her rough and tumble sister Arya, Sansa lives by everything she learned from her mother and her Septa. She paid careful attention to sewing and household matters. She holds being proper and polite above all other things, and it seems that includes putting honor aside for the sake of “please” and “thank yous”. She wants to marry a high lord, bear him children, and be a good wife. Pretty boring in my opinion. However, it is the way of Westeros. There’s a traditional path for women to follow, and she intends to do so. She never questions her role or place. I’d forgive that if it was all a cover because she has secret ambitions for power or politics, but she doesn’t. She believes in love and chivalrous knights and happy endings. And no one in the course of her few years has tried to persuade her that those things don’t exist.
She’s in a mindset that is ripe for harvesting when the Baratheon family comes to Winterfell. She longed for a prince in the cold keep and behold, Prince Joffrey shows up on her doorstep. She had to think it was meant to be. He was handsome and charming, and she was blinded by her dream world. She’s young – just 11 in the books – and the news that she would be leaving the dark north for the capital city of Westeros would be enough to dazzle any child. Add the betrothal to the prince arranged by her father and King Robert, and the situation is hopeless. Every silly, improbable fantasy of Sansa’s actually happens. Who wouldn’t allow themselves to be swept away in a similar situation? Especially as a pre-teen!
But why does she continue to allow herself to be deluded? Joffrey shows his true colors on the road to King’s Landing. He gives her enough wine to make her tipsy, and then he picks a fight with Arya. His actions result in the death of a boy and Sansa’s wolf. Sansa betrayed her sister and lied to protect Joffrey. It would have been stupid of her to do otherwise. She was put on the spot. How could she tell the King that his son is a liar? Joffrey’s obviously not the charming prince she believed him to be, but she still has to marry him. She doesn’t want to believe that her fairytale is slipping. She thinks lying about the events will endear Queen Cersei and Joffrey to her. Instead, Joffrey comes to hate her because she witnessed him being weak.
It takes far too long for her to realize that her Prince Charming is actually a monster. Even while her father is in captivity and she is held hostage by the Lannisters and forced to attend court and smile, she strives to find an excuse for Joffrey’s behavior. She blames it on the queen. She denies that her dream was just that – a dream. She doesn’t face it until Joffrey gives the order to have her father executed. Then, finally, she gets it.
It’s too late though. She’s stuck by Joffrey’s side and entangled in Cersei’s clutching grasp. Many think she deserves her fate. I disagree with that part. She is young. She comes from a damp, freezing place and has probably heard the phrase “winter is coming” enough times to make her mad. She was the daughter of a high lord. She’s never had to stand up for herself and find her way in life. Dislike her all you want for now (I don’t hold a lot of love for her), but remember that she knows her situation now. She has a chance to prove herself. I think she should be judged on her next steps rather than the ones on her gold-paved fantasy road.