The Bastards and the Beasts
It’s very interesting that between the Stark sisters, each girl has three male figures that significantly affect their storylines and/or their public figures. For Arya, this is Jon Snow, Ramsay Snow, and Gendry - three bastards, two of which are of royal descent. For Sansa, this is Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish, Tyrion “The Imp” Lannister, and Sandor “The Hound” Clegane - three men who are vilified both within the context of the series’ world and fandom, to the point that they are more often referred to by their nicknames than their true names.
It’s understandable that for Arya, a girl who is unfazed by class and hierarchy, the three male figures that affect her moving storyline are bastards. Since the start we are shown that she does not care for bloodlines or birth; a person’s worth comes from their soul. Jon, her favorite brother, straddled the line of treason in his tenure of Lord Commander when he sent Mance Rayder to Winterfell in order to steal Arya back to him. After he receives the Pink Letter, he makes the decision to break his vows to ride to Winterfell, but is killed before he can carry it out. Ramsay Snow marries “Arya Stark” in order for House Bolton to stake a claim on the north; as her husband, he publicly tortures and humiliates the figure of Arya Stark, and acts as the foil and adversary to Jon Snow by catalyst of her. Gendry is Arya’s unsuspecting companion from her start on the road; they help each other all through the riverlands, and play on a strong team dynamic. When he is offered knighthood, Gendry makes the decision to leave Arya, though he seems to have come to regret that when Brienne comes upon him at the inn.
Sansa loves beauty. She loves songs and tales, pretty silks and lively court life; she wanted to be queen to be loved, and her notions of life were very much naive and built on fantasy. There is an ironic sort of poetry in her three male figures being unconventional by beauty’s standards. Littlefinger is of low birth, short, slender, with seemingly no skills of gallantry or strength; despite this, he is cunning and unassuming, which serves his purpose of later rescuing Sansa from court all the better. Tyrion is forcibly married to Sansa in order for House Lannister to stake their claim on Winterfell; though a Lannister, he is considered unattractive by most all, though he is no less intelligent and cunning for what he lacks in “beauty.” The Hound is gruff and mean, with a horribly burnt face that, in some parts, reveals bone and sores. At court with Joffrey, he helps Sansa learn how to appease and deal with the king. Later, he decides to leave her, and seems to come to have regret the decision. Furthermore, all three men are around the age of 30, which is far older than what Sansa finds ideal.
I just find it really interesting how the girls’ “three” parallel one another; Jon and Petyr both put into motion the plans to save the girls from abusive men/their husbands by proxy of Mance Rayder and Dontos (though one was successful where the other was misled), Ramsay and Tyrion were both matched with “Arya” and Sansa respectively to claim Winterfell, and Gendry and Sandor were the girls’ companions and protectors at times after Ned was killed, and later leave the girls. And of course the motifs of bastards and “beasts” really play into each girl’s personality, interests, and arc.