What do you think are the literary and historical antecedents (or inspirations) for figures like Varys and Littlefinger ? I've once read an essay comparing Varys to Fagin from Oliver Twist and it was kinda good.
Ahhh, I don’t know—I mean, I don’t have any original ideas about it, just what others have said.
Both are probably a deconstruction/subversion of the wise advisor/court mage trope (from Merlin on), but I think the inspiration behind them is a patchwork of various sources, tropes and ideas. There’s something machiavellian in Varys, and something of The Great Gatsby in Littlefinger. This article suggests as potential historical sources of inspiration Francis Walsingham for Varys and William Cecil for Baelish, respectively “spymaster” and treasurer to Elizabeth I. This post makes another Elizabethan parallel between Littlefinger and Thomas Seymour. This thread compares Varys to Zhao Gao, a politician of the Qin dynasty (allegedly an eunuch; there’s a conspiracy theory that Gao was a descendant of a disgraced royal family seeking revenge on the Qin dynasty, which ties nicely with Blackfyre!Varys).
I’ve seen people mention Rasputin and Oliver Cromwell, too, though I’m not sure about those. And I’ve read a convincing case that Littlefinger’s character
relies on the stereotype of the dishonest, manipulative jew.
Also. Grima Wormtongue? (+ Saruman to an extent, and even Sauron in the second age). Iago (for Littlefinger). Varys’ idea of the “perfect prince” dates back to Plato. And here (and also here) is an interesting (though debatable) comparison between Petyr and Heathcliff, especially vis à vis his obsession with Catelyn and later Sansa.
Do you think there's any chance that some insane S7 theories especially the "Sansa manipulating LF with sex to protect her brother" is going to happen? I just keep seeing all this crazy stuff lately and it bothers me to no end because it's simply not necessary for her to do that. At first it was just creepy PxS shippers predicting this stuff but now there are more who agree with it. What do you think?
This went so, so, so tangential to what you were asking and I am so, so, so sorry anon. Your question just happened to be a really good lead in to a topic I think about a lot.
If the sarcasm didn’t give it away, I disagree entirely with all these crazy theories and what they imply about Sansa as a character. While I can’t really talk about the show because no one really knows what’s going on, the “Sansa seduces Littlefinger” theory is also one in the books that I absolutely detest and doubt will actually happen.
Firstly, when people talk about Sansa (who is theoretically THIRTEEN YEARS OLD) seducing someone (generally Littlefinger), they always mention Cersei telling Sansa: “You little fool. Tears are not a woman’s only weapon. You’ve got another one between your legs, and you’d best learn to use it” (ACOK Sansa VI).
Earlier in the chapter, Cersei imparts another lesson on Sansa. She has constantly been playing the lie-to-their-faces game with the Lannisters and the entire court, so she tells Cersei she’ll remember the advice, but her internal thoughts are entirely different:
I will remember, Your Grace,“ said Sansa, though she had always heard that love was a surer route to the people’s loyalty than fear. If I am ever a queen, I’ll make them love me.
(ACOK Sansa VI)
Sansa has learned not to trust the Lannisters, especially Cersei or Joffrey, and uses plenty of verbal deception to pretend she still does. This is established from her first chapter in A Clash of Kings: ”Once she had loved Prince Joffrey with all her heart, and admired and trusted his mother, the queen. They had repaid that love and trust with her father’s head. Sansa would never make that mistake again“ (ACOK Sansa I).
I don’t think she’s taking any of Cersei’s advice to heart. In fact, while the narrative is interrupted and Sansa doesn’t get the chance to respond when Cersei shocks her with the “between your legs” comment, I’m almost certain the response would be one of Sansa’s many double-sided answers, with a lie at face while her true thoughts simmer within.
Sansa’s apprenticeship, as it were, is about her learning to be a queen. However, under Cersei’s tutelage she isn’t her learning how to rule people and be a queen, but how not to do it. Her lessons come from a woman who is obviously not particularly well-liked and doesn’t know what she’s doing. That’s why we see her directly rejecting this notion of making people fear her and being unkind.
Furthermore- Sansa is way too important to have some plot where she falls into the traps her mentors have tried to teach her. I know some people don’t like to acknowledge Sansa’s importance, despite her having more chapters (so far- and I don’t think her WOW chapter is included her) than arguably the most important characters(Bran), and her being the only non-”Big Five” name GRRM used in this post. But because of both of these points, I’d argue that Sansa has become, in her own right, one of the main characters along with Jon, Dany, Tyrion, Arya, and Bran.
Because of this, she isn’t going to end up having some half-baked seduction plot line. There is lots and lots and lots of speculation on Sansa’s endgame and role in the War of the Dawn. I get a little too shippy when I start talking about final endgame (although tbh I’m rather certain SanSan is actual endgame), but I personally find her role in the WotD to be rather clear, and perfectly paralleling Cersei’s lessons mentioned above.
Recognizably, Sansa does not necessarily have the same obvious “weapons” the other main POVs have- Bran has magic and Summer; Jon has swordsmanship, battle command skills, Ghost, and (eventually) a dragon; Dany has various skills commanding forces, an army, and Drogon; Arya has Needle and eventually Nymeria and her wolfpack; Tyrion will have a dragon and a generally large vast amount of knowledge to help with said dragons. But Sansa has shown skills useful to defense during a war- keeping people calm and leading those who can’t protect themselves.
During the Battle of the Blackwater, Sansa kept to Cersei’s side as Cersei entertained and protected the various women of King’s Landing. She learns Cersei’s lessons, of fear and harshness, and turns that all over when she gives her little speech about how they’re winning the battle and the queen is just going to check on things and will be back shortly. I imagine that Sansa will, in either Riverrun/Winterfell/Vale, rouse the various people who are fleeing the Others and rouse their spirits while running the castle and doling out supplies as needed (I’m unsure exactly where the war will drive them. My bet is sort of on Riverrun, with a potential severing of the Neck to end the war).
Finally, and I forget where I first saw this theory (I think @nobodysuspectsthebutterfly?), three of the fighting heroes have something the other two don’t: dragons. Considering that the dragon riders will eventually be the Big Heroes who save the world, some consider Arya and Bran to be in a secondary category of people, those who rebuild the world post-WotD. That’s where Sansa’s general destiny will eventually come in. All three of the Starklings have been developing helpful leadership skills- Bran as ruling Prince of Winterfell, Arya among the commonfolk of Westeros (and Essos), Sansa living as a bastard but also the essential ruling Lady of the Vale. They’ve all had to deal with managing people and goods, and these will be essential skills for reshaping the world post-Dawn, and likely important skills for protecting people during the war.
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