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In A Game of Thrones, Sansa was a carefree girl living the life of a princess. She was engaged to a golden-haired prince, she lived in magnificent castles, and she even enjoyed watching knights beat the stuffing out of each other in the occasional tournament. Good times.
But then her father was beheaded in front of her, and as you can imagine, things kind of took a turn for the worse after that.
Sansa goes from princess ready to marry her prince to hostage of said prince. See, the Lannisters don't send her home to ensure that nothing happens to Jaime Lannister, who is Robb's hostage, and in turn, the Starks keep Jaime hostage as an insurance policy that Sansa isn't harmed. It's a classic stalemate type situation.
Worse, her handsome prince is now king and has transformed into a royally evil dude, abusing her emotionally and physically. In one scene, Joffrey summons her to court to answer for her brother's treason, a.k.a. his victory against the Lannister family—and as punishment for her brother's actions, he has the Kingsguard beat her, hitting her in the stomach and spanking her with the flats of their swords (33.Sansa.27). Unwilling to upset the king, the court just watches until Tyrion busts in and puts a stop to things like a boss.
For obvious reasons, when Joffrey touches her now, she is "filled with revulsion" (3.Sansa.33). As a hostage, though, and lacking any political power, Sansa has no way of protecting herself from Joffrey's abuse except by pleasing him. She agrees with whatever he says, and she constantly finds herself worrying, "I have to look pretty, Joff likes me to look pretty" (33.Sansa.1). This takes an emotional toll on the young girl, and she feels the once magnificent King's Landing has become her cage and her one-time crush her warden.
Sansa was once a huge fan of songs and stories about knights who fought evil forces to save their ladies. In fact, she thought Joffrey would be her shining prince, and they would live out their lives in a fairy tale, happily-ever-after type situation. As you can imagine, her current situation has dampened this romantic outlook a bit—after all, it's hard to believe in the bravery and chivalry of true knights when they are beating on you.
Despite all of this, Sansa remains a bit of a romantic deep down inside. When she meets Ser Dontos in the godswood, the ex-knight promises to repay her for saving his life by bringing her home. He admits to being a fool and a drunkard but reminds her that the songs speak of another fool who became a great knight: Florian (19.Sansa.38). Obviously, Ser Dontos is using her love of song to help her look past his drunkenness, but at the mention of songs, Sansa thinks:
Home, she thought, home, he is going to take me home, he'll keep me safe, my Florian. The songs about Florian and Jonquil were her very favorites. Florian was homely too, though not so old. (19.Sansa.58)
Throughout the novel, Sansa continues to think of Dontos as Florian and herself as Jonquil, the maiden in Florian's story. Clearly, she has not learned her lesson from last time. She viewed Joffrey as her bright, noble prince, and her desire to live the life of storied princess blinded her to his true nature until it was too late. Similarly, she views Ser Dontos and his promises through the filter of the stories, coloring reality through the filter of fantasy.
Still, we have to wonder whether or not Ser Dontos will come through with his promise to help her escape on the day of Joffrey's wedding. Guess we'll have to wait and see.
Perhaps unknown even to her, Sansa has become a novice at the game of thrones. While we do not see her obtain the same level of skill as Cersei, Tyrion, or Littlefinger, we begin to see the signs of a gamer all the same.
After bringing her to his tower, Tyrion asks Sansa what she really thinks about his nephew. Sansa replies she loves him more than ever, and Tyrion laughs, "Well, someone has taught you to lie well. You may be grateful for that one day, child" (33.Sansa.76-77). It's a lie or die life, and Sansa's finding her footing.
In another telling scene, Cersei wonders if Sansa is praying for a Lannister defeat at Stannis's hands. Sansa says she prays for Joffrey, and Cersei commands her to drink, saying, "Perhaps it will give you the courage to deal with the truth for a change" (61.Sansa.45-46).
In both scenes, Sansa is caught in her lie because she's not well-versed in the art of the fib. But we should note that she has begun to play the game all the same. She presents herself as Joffrey's loving, loyal fiancée even though she is secretly plotting to escape King's Landing with Ser Dontos; she embodies the role others expect her to while making her own plans behind their backs. The same can be said for all the great game of thrones players such as Littlefinger or Varys.
Granted, she's not racking up the high score here, but with practice she may be the best of them one day. And the girl is getting a ton of practice at King's Landing.
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