this Reddit thread is the reason why we can’t have nice things in this world.
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Intimate hearth side scenes
Yessss! It’s becoming my go-to but I love it. I’m starting to imagine the fire in their scenes as basically Calcifer from Howl’s Moving Castle...the fire in my fics is his own character at this point. A VERY important character. A very necessary inclusion.
But how intimate, that is the question? I have been toying around with a very silly idea, probably as a sequel to By Firelight, where Jon and Sansa are, uhh, canoodling by the fire in a little nest of furs and cushions...and in her eagerness to get Jon in the buff, Sansa accidently tosses his smallclothes into the fire. And then Jon completely teases her for it for the rest of the evening and Sansa is all, very sincerely I should add, “IT WAS AN ACCIDENT! Oh gods, I’ll make you a new pair I SWEAR!”, which just sends Jon through the roof laughing.
Is that too silly? I dunno, let me know!
(Also, apologies for being slow on answering some of your theory asks! I love them, but just have to pace myself because I always end up having a lot to say!)
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The dwarf tugged at her a third time. Stubbornly she pressed her lips together and pretended not to notice.
Someone behind them tittered. The queen, she thought, but it didn’t matter. They were all laughing by then, Joffrey the loudest.
“Dontos, down on your hands and knees,” the king commanded. “My uncle needs a boost to climb his bride.”
And so it was that her lord husband cloaked her in the colors of House Lannister whilst standing on the back of a fool.
- A Storm of Swords, Sansa III
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Honestly him knowing the broad strokes since 1991 about who might get married does give me Jonsa feels but then what he had planned for her character in the outline doesn't sound promising , though Sansa does marry the king in that letter.
I think we have to take that “original” outline with a grain of salt, because obviously the characterisations in it have changed quite a bit. Sansa, definitely, evolved into a different kind of character, so I don’t think we can look at the Sansa in that outline as being a true indication of her current character and where she’s headed. What I find interesting, and reassuring in terms of Jonsa, however, is the inclusion of a pseudo-incest romance. Also, it shouldn’t be forgotten that there are apparently several outlines — this is just the only one we have access to, and even then, some details in it are blacked out.
So, what I personally infer from that outline is that GRRM always planned to have a forbidden romance between a Stark girl and Jon Snow, which then becomes possible thanks to the parentage reveal. Arya and Sansa are not the same characters they were in the leaked outline, lots of things didn’t survive GRRM’s revisions...but I think the romance described in it did.
I think that there was always meant to be a Stark girl romantic heroine, and more than that, I think she may well have always been intended to be a redhead, because this tracks with GRRM’s past writing of romantic heroines, his artisitc influences, as well as his personal life:
In a New York Times profile, GRRM was asked the question, “what’s up with you and redheads?”, to which he answered: “I like redheads! I’m married to a redhead!”, before qualifying that he liked all hair colours;
George has expressed being a fan of the Pre-Raphaelite movement and painters, who quite notably have an unavoidable amount of redheads featured in their works. For more on that, see my post: GRRM, Sansa Stark & The Pre-Raphaelites;
He has written about more than one romantically coded red-haired (or auburn-haired) heroine prior to Sansa Stark, for example:
Laurie in A Song for Lya (1974)
Gourlay wasn’t the sociable type, but Valcarenghi had a woman with him, a stunning auburn-haired vision named Laurie Blackburn.
She smiled. A radiant smile in a radiant face, but there was no humor in it. Her hair fell in sweeping auburn waves past her shoulders, and she was dressed in something long and gauzy. I could see her gentle curves through its folds, and she made no effort to hide herself.
As discussed by a number of Jonsa theorists, this novella is particularly noteworthy because you have an auburn haired heroine (Sansa is specifically described as having auburn hair), who is also described as “radiant” (like Sansa is by Jon), and it is also a story that made his redheaded wife, Parris, cry upon reading. Interestingly, A Song for Lya is also a story that he brings up quite a lot as one that he is particularly proud of, outside of the ASOIAF series.
Sharra in The Lonely Lands of Laren Dorr (1976)
Not quite a full red-head, but notably reddish nonetheless:
She is grey-eyed and pale of skin, or so the story goes, and her hair is a coal-black waterfall with half-seen hints of red.
Sharra was frowning. She shook her long black hair, and in the dim light of the candles the soft red highlights glowed.
Her hair, jet black with light-born glints of red and purple, blew as freely as his cape, but the dark crown was in place.
I mean...that second description is eerily close to how both Ygritte and Sansa’s hair are described, though perhaps especially Sansa’s:
She had auburn hair, lighter than mine, and so thick and soft...the red in it would catch the light of the torches and shine like copper. – ACOK, Catelyn VII
There were spearwives with them, long hair streaming. Jon could not look at them without remembering Ygritte: the gleam of fire in her hair [...]. – ADWD, Jon XII
Crystal in The Tower of Ashes (1976)
Again, not fully auburn or red-headed, but this recurring motif of red tones shining in either firelight or sunlight:
Gerry set his aircar down in the weeds near the base of the tower, just a few feet from my own. Crystal was with him, slim and grave, her long gold hair full of red glints from the afternoon sun.
Alaina in The Stone City (1977)
Perhaps less romantic, more apocalytic Sci-Fi, but once again, there is possibly a hint towards GRRM’s admiration of red hair:
He forced a smile for bloated, pale-faced Takker, then quickly turned to Alaina. She had worked the jump-gun with him once, a year ago and more. And they had been lovers, briefly. But that was over. Alaina had put on weight and her long auburn hair was dirty and matted. Her green eyes used to spark; now amberlethe made them dull and cloudy.
Jennifer in Nor the Many-Coloured Fires of a Star Ring (1980)
Another not quite auburn, but still noteworthy:
Jennifer looked up at him, all business. She was a beautiful woman, tall and slim, with bright green eyes and long straight red-blond hair. She wore a severe white lab coat and a gold ring.
Kathy in Unsound Variations (1982)
She stood up, and shook loose her hair. It was long and auburn and it fell around her shoulders gorgeously, and Peter remembered the sweet lady he had married eight years ago, when he was a bright young author working hard on his first novel. He smiled. “You look nice,” he said.
Maggie in The Armageddon Rag (1983)
Like Sharra, Crystal + Maggie, not exactly auburn, but still “reddish”:
Maggie had never been a classical beauty. Her mouth was a bit oversized and somehow a little lopsided, especially when she smiled, and her nose was large and still crooked where it had been broken by a cop’s nightstick during the ’68 Democratic convention. But she had nice green eyes, and a generous mass of reddish-blond hair that always seemed windblown, even inside, and more animation to her than any woman Sandy had ever known. Maggie had been the first great love of his life, as well as the first lay, and sitting there in her living room looking down at her, he realized suddenly that he had missed her enormously.
I just found these by doing a word search on some books via the Internet Archive (which I’ve used previously for academic work, a useful site!), so this isn’t a complete list by any stretch, but it is uhhh...striking what it’s turned up, just by looking at a few of GRRM’s previous works. You do have the odd male character in these other works described as having red hair, but specifically auburn hair seems (from what I could gather) to be soley attributed to female characters and is always described positively.
Furthermore, the characters described with auburn hair also seem to have long hair, quite often falling past their shoulders. Those with hints of red, or reddish hair, are also described with lengthy and/or thick locks. It is probably unsurprising that GRRM links long hair with attractiveness, since long hair has for a long time been associated with western feminine beauty, which makes it interesting when you have fashion movements, like in the 1920s, which attempt to subvert/deconstruct those associations. But lets have a look at some of Sansa’s hair descriptions and see how they compare to Laurie, Alaina, and Kathy’s, and to a slightly lesser extent, Sharra, Crystal, Jennifer, and Maggie’s:
She had brushed out her long auburn hair until it shone, and picked her nicest blue silks. – AGOT, Sansa I
And there in their midst was Sansa, dressed in sky-blue silk, with her long auburn hair washed and curled and silver bracelets on her wrists. – AGOT, Arya V
She had auburn hair, lighter than mine, and so thick and soft...the red in it would catch the light of the torches and shine like copper. – ACOK, Catelyn VII
When she pulled it free, her long auburn hair cascaded down her back and across her shoulders. – ASOS, Sansa V
When Gretchel fetched her Lysa's silvered looking glass, the color seemed just perfect with Alayne's mass of dark brown hair. – AFFC, Alayne I
[...] and when they come together for his wedding, and you come out with your long auburn hair, clad in a maiden's cloak of white and grey with a direwolf emblazoned on the back [...] – AFFC, Alayne II
The specific trait of long, thick, auburn hair in ASOIAF is also shared by both Tully sisters, Catelyn and Lysa. However, on asearchforiceandfire, the person who is most frequently associated with these traits is still Sansa. For me, this just hammers home the fact that Sansa is the romantic heroine of ASOIAF, and I suspect that the leaked outline Arya would have also had red hair, specifically long, thick, auburn hair, which looks particularly beautiful when illuminated by firelight or sunlight. It just...it tracks, it tracks with what we’ve seen GRRM do before, what some of his artistic influences are, as well as his real life romantic history. So that leaked outline doesn’t make me worry about the likelihood of Jonsa, if anything it just confirms for me what I think one of his intentions for writing was all along...
I think he really wanted to explore the incest motif, as uncomfortable as that may be (certainly a...choice, George)! This becomes more obvious when you start digging into some of his literary influences, most notably William Faulkner and Tolkein (Quenta Silmarillion), who he’s spoken openly about as influential writers, but also most likely Lord Byron as well, since he had this to say about Jon Snow:
Well who wouldn’t want to be Jon Snow — the brooding, Byronic, romantic hero whom all the girls love. [source]
For the record, I don’t think he’s just interested in the incest motif and I don’t think that’s the sole thing he takes away from those authors — e.g. I do think he’s heavily inspired by the Romantic movement in terms of aesthetics — but it’s definitely a factor. I think it’s been a factor from the beginning, as illustrated by that leaked outline, however, the story and characters have shifted around and changed quite a bit since then, yet the incest motif remains.
I really put no stock in the original love interest being called Arya, because she isn’t the Arya we see in ASOIAF. There might be a few points of similarity, but taking into consideration everything GRRM has said on the possibility of Jon and Arya becoming romantic...it seems quite clear that aspect isn’t going to happen. Because really, it seems very counterintuitive to me, to have the romantic interest Stark girl for Jon Snow look very similar to him, and for them to have a very close sibling bond, if you are planning to go down the route where the romance is forbidden, but then allowed through a parentage reveal. Really, you want them to be, at the very least, visually quite different so that your audience can accept it a bit more easily. It also just seems nonsensical considering that GRRM has this similar looking (BAD) actual sibling incest in the form of the Targaryens and Lannister twins, which surely are there, in part, to act as foils. Of course, the fact that we have barely any information of an established dynamic between Jon and Sansa, which suggests a certain distance, also helps this eventual transition into romance. It is almost certainly a very intentional choice.
With that in mind, it makes far more sense to me that Jon’s love interest was always meant look different to him, was actually always meant to have beautiful, long, auburn hair, and as it stands in the canon iteration of the series...that person is Sansa Stark. It just is. It has been her since the moment Jon described her as “radiant” in Jon I, A Game of Thrones, and then made even clearer still in Arya I, where she’s described with, essentially GRRM’s personal feminine beauty ideal, “thick auburn hair”.
So, my faith in this quote hinting at a Jonsa marriage still remains:
Yes, I mean, I did partly joke when I said I don’t know where I was going. I know the broad strokes, and I’ve known the broad strokes since 1991. I know who’s going to be on the Iron Throne. I know who’s gonna win some of the battles, I know the mayor characters, who’s gonna die and how they’re gonna die, and who’s gonna get married and all that. The major characters.
[question if he knows Arya’s and Jon’s fates]
Tyrion, Arya, Jon, Sansa, you know, all of the Stark kids, and the major Lannisters, yeah. [source]
To my mind, GRRM has known since 1991 that Jon Snow will marry an auburn haired Stark girl, who he thought was his half-sister, who actually turns out to be his cousin. That is what I take away from that. Just from her physical description alone, when compared to GRRM’s previous writing, I feel like it is actually astoundingly clear that Sansa Stark is the romantic heroine of the series, and that’s discounting all the other romantic and Romantic (as in the literary movement) characteristics and parallels she has. It’s just...it’s just so obvious to me at this point. Literally all signs point to her.
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GRRM: Yes, I mean, I did partly joke when I said I don’t know where I was going. I know the broad strokes, and I’ve known the broad strokes since 1991. I know who’s going to be on the Iron Throne. I know who’s gonna win some of the battles, I know the mayor characters, who’s gonna die and how they’re gonna die, and WHO'S GONNA GET MARRIED and all that. The major characters.
Speaking words of wisdom...
[question if he knows Arya’s and Jon’s fates]
Tyrion, Arya, Jon, Sansa, you know, all of the Stark kids, and the major Lannisters, yeah. [source]
...Let it be
Look, call me Donkey coz I'm a Believer, and I will die on this hill.
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Sansa’s final chapter in ‘A Game Of Thrones’ is so incredibly heartbreaking
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There were a lot of choices D&D made and one of them was to split up Catelyn’s arc/symbolism between her daughters. And to an extent this decision made sense. I mean I hated it because it threw out Book!Arya’s whole arc about mercy and revenge vs justice, but that plot had been thrown a way a while ago anyway, so it wasn’t a huge loss. Lady Stoneheart wasn’t there and someone had to kill House Frey. Might as well be Arya since her arc wasn’t really going anywhere anyway (don’t tell me her leaving made sense, a one off comment doesn’t equal good foreshadowing). I can understand that.
What I cannot understand is why they gave Cat’s Jenny of Old Stones symbolism to Sansa. And not in a Sansa-stole-her-plot way...just in a this doesn’t really make sense way. Book!Sansa’s fiction (fictional-fictional?) counter part is Jonquil while Cat has Jenny (and Arya has Nymeria). In the show they keep giving Sansa the dragonfly imagery which could hint back to the Prince of Dragonflies which makes sense because growing up Petyr pretended to be Cat’s Prince of Dragonflies.
“We're all just songs in the end. If we are lucky." She had played at being Jenny that day, had even wound flowers in her hair. And Petyr had pretended to be her Prince of Dragonflies. Catelyn could not have been more than twelve, Petyr just a boy.” - Cat V, ASoS
And book-wise this is an interesting little connection between Arya and Cat since Arya meets a woman who may have known Jenny.
“The dwarf woman studied her with dim red eyes. "I see you," she whispered. "I see you, wolf child. Blood child. I thought it was the lord who smelled of death . . ." She began to sob, her little body shaking. "You are cruel to come to my hill, cruel. I gorged on grief at Summerhall, I need none of yours. Begone from here, dark heart. Begone!” - Arya VIII, ASoS
Show-wise this means absolutely nothing. It’s not even a parallel to Cat and Sansa because Cat doesn’t bring up pretending to be Jenny.
And what is so strange to me is that of what we know about Jenny, hers is a really sad story. One thing the show did right was the song about Jenny, its super beautiful and just as sad. Its about a woman who is so tormented by what happens she is basically driven mad by it. That’s so sad.
But what on earth does it have to do with Sansa Stark?
For book!Cat this parallel makes sense. All Lady Stoneheart has are ghosts. She is basically a walking talking ghost herself and she is literally a ghost of herself. She is Jenny after the Tragedy of Summerhall, driven mad by grief.
Sansa isn’t any of those things, in the book or the show. The closest she gets to being Jenny in the show is that she is Winterfell. She’s high in the halls of the kings who are gone and family-wise she is alone. But there is nothing to suggest she has been driven mad by grief or is haunted by ghosts of the past.
I really just don’t get the point of having Sansa affiliated with Jenny instead of Jonquil even if it is a kind of vague connection.
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With so much shared parallels and imagery, do you think we will get Jonsa in TWOW or ADOS ? I mean full blown feelings like the one in the parentage reveal fic of yours ( Btw ❤️ that fic). It obviously doesn't have to be exact.
Haha, thank you for the compliment! I can never be 100% sure...but I think we’ll definitely get the beginnings of Jonsa in Winds, because I think when they inevitably meet it is going to be pretty significant for several reasons, even for non-shipper readers:
They will be the first Starks to reunite, so that is, without a doubt, going to carry emotional weight for the characters, as well as the reader — For all that the show is beneath contemptable in its plot choices, having Sansa go north and having her reunite with Jon feels faithful to the direction she’s heading in, bookwise.
Reuniting with Jon coincides with Sansa’s journey north, her journey home — That, again, is very emotionally weighted, tinged with relief and joy, but also sorrow for a past, a version of home, that can never truly be recovered. That is very bittersweet, heartswelling but also heartbreaking.
It will coincide with, or follow, Jon’s resurrection, his rebirth and return to himself after a violent, traumatising death — To quote The Princess Bride, we all know that Jon is “only mostly dead”, having almost certainly warged into Ghost, but we don’t know how he will be revived, or how he’ll behave when he comes back. But the trauma of his murder (not just death, murder), the trauma of having confined yourself to the body of a wolf lest you die for real, on top of the trauma of having to come back into that murdered body...it’s going to be heavy, to say the least, and Sansa is going to be around to witness that struggle towards recovery, if not aid it.
All the above will, I believe, come across quite strongly on the page, those factors will very much be at the forefront of that reunion, and will be obvious in their significance to the reader. Even, if say, Sansa arrives before Jon returns to his own body, that won’t hinder the emotional power of her arrival at (most likely, though not definitely) Castle Black, it will just extend it to include three poignant, separate but connected, moments: (1) her return north, (2) the first Starks to reunite, (3) Jon’s resurrection. Their individual chapters, without a doubt, will be incredibly emotive, and with that emotive power fuelling them, PLUS all that foreshadowing, all those implicit parallels...well, buckle up kids, we’re going to be heading down a one-way track towards Jonsa town.
That first meeting is going to be so so sooooo loaded, so narratively, thematically, and emotionally significant, and it will inform all the interactions they have after that, even discounting the possibility of romance...but of course, the possibility of romance is heavily foreshadowed. So, I suppose with that force behind them, GRRM may choose to ride that emotional wave and start picking up the pace, establishing a close bond between them that straddles what is appropriate behaviour between “half-siblings”, facilitated by these factors:
The desire for trust, for familiarity, after betrayal/uncertainty/abuse;
The lack of a strong sibling dynamic/bond between them, or any established dynamic at all really;
A mutual, and deep desire for kindness, acceptance of self, and love, which could lead to a confusion between the familial/platonic + romantic;
The lingering trauma of having had to be someone else for an extended period of time — for Sansa, as Alayne Stone, and more confusing still, with Jon as Ghost.
Just going back to their reunion, I think there’s a reason why the Jon and Sansa reunion in the show felt so emotionally powerful, despite never having seen these two interact, or really reference each other on screen. E.g. there was no, to my knowledge, because I stopped fully watching due to s5, “Winterfell belongs to my sister Sansa”, or “Oh, it would be so sweet, to see him once again”, or anything that really foreshadowed them meeting again on an emotional level. Nevertheless, their reunion is arguably the most emotionally satisfying moment of the entire show, a moment that isn’t fuelled by vengence or one upping someone, instead it is fuelled by love.
Indeed, no matter the overall grimdark, frankly punishing message GoT tried so hard to push to appear edgy and unpredicatable, the moments that most resonate, that are most satisfying to watch, were actually the ones with real love behind them. Just imagine what it will be like in the book...
I mean, she’s a religious fanatic who we aren’t meant to fully trust, yet Melisandre does kind of have the right of it here:
"The heart is all that matters. Do not despair, Lord Snow. Despair is a weapon of the enemy, whose name may not be spoken. Your sister is not lost to you." – ADWD, Jon VI
Not to get too Frankie Goes to Hollywood here, but the power of love is...well, it is powerful stuff! We shouldn’t shake our heads, nor roll our eyes dismissively (not that Jonsas do), when Sansa thinks to herself:
There are gods, she told herself, and there are true knights too. All the stories can't be lies. – ACOK, Sansa IV
If love is a lie, if a belief in love is a sign of idiocy, if all we are meant for is to be born, betray or be betrayed, not trust anyone, suffer, then die...what is the point? Life isn’t a bed of roses, but likewise, it is completely devoid of roses either. What everyone is experiencing right now in the books is the very very VERY bitter, we haven’t yet got to the sweet, and it has to be some significant sweetness, I think, it has to restore some faith in humanity, to even just slightly alleviate all that pain and relentless loss. Because otherwise, what is the point? Not just in life, but narratively too.
Yes, maybe things will continue to go pear shaped for the Starks, maybe Jon and Sansa will never find the love, the sense of home, and acceptance they truly crave, maybe GRRM’s philosophy is that real and lasting love is ultimately an unachievable goal. Maybe...but we don’t know for certain, do we?
"[...] That was when Stark said, ‘In this world only winter is certain. We may lose our heads, it's true…but what if we prevail?’ My father sent him on his way with his head still on his shoulders. ‘If you lose,’ he told Lord Eddard, ‘you were never here.’" – ADWD, Davos I
I think this is such a key quote, and a far more realistic philosophy for life, spoken and believed in by none other than Eddard Stark. So yes, it is possible that these two statements, for example, will prove to be accurate:
No one will ever marry me for love. – ASOS, Sansa VI
You can't be Lord of Winterfell, you're bastard-born. My lady mother says you can't ever be the Lord of Winterfell. – ASOS, Jon XII
But...what if they aren’t? What if Sansa does marry for love? What if Jon does become Lord of Winterfell (or KiTN to S’s Q)? What if Jonsa does happen in Winds? What if we prevail? What if love prevails? Arguably, the first step towards this will be Jon and Sansa reuniting, because it will prove this assurance to be false:
Oh, it would be so sweet, to see him once again. But of course that could never be. – AFFC, Alayne II
Back to your question though, coz I got a bit carried away there philosophising! Do I think we’ll get mutually acknowledged and acted upon Jonsa in Winds or Dream? I mean...if not in Winds, then in Dream, yes. I think it will depend on the parentage reveal and when GRRM chooses for Jon to become aware of it and what he chooses to do with that information. In my fic, I played around with Jon experiencing grief and anger over this revelation, because:
It essentially confirms his greatest hang-up, that “he had never truly been a Stark, only Lord Eddard's motherless bastard, with no more place at Winterfell than Theon Greyjoy,” (ASOS, Jon III). But worsened by the added pain of also not being Ned’s son. It’s an identity crisis in waiting.
It completely dispells any glimmer of hope Jon might have had that his mother was alive, living somewhere far away, yet loving him. Again, it confirms a hang-up — that he truly is motherless. Lyanna is dead.
He was lied to, ostensibly for his own good, his whole life by the man he admired most, even when he was set to dedicate his life to a glorified penal colony. Even if it was done to protect him, that must still hurt.
But I also played around with him feeling a twisted sense of relief, and then guilt at feeling that relief. This would rest on whether or not he has developed romantic feelings for Sansa prior to this revelation, which because of the above factors, I think is likely. If that is the case, then his dragonblood both saves him and damns him, because:
On one level, the truth of them being cousins alleviates his shame, it makes a union between them legally and culturally possible.
On the other, however, the fact that he did believe himself to be attracted to her whilst she was still seemingly his half-sister makes him far closer to a Targaryen than I’m sure he’d like.
It just makes the reveal so much more fraught and emotionally weighted, so much more narratively meaningful, if these are the kind of emotions at play. So, yes, love can prevail, but sometimes not without difficulty, not without adversity. It’s not wholly good, but nor is it wholly bad either, and ultimately it’s which side you choose to lean into that matters in the end. Jon could let shame, guilt, anger and grief rule him...but what if he doesn’t?
In my fic, because I was writing it over two chapters — the second being requested in the comments because I made ch. 1 end too angsty, lol — I probably resolved things between them faster than might be realistic. It’s one thing to consider the circumstances in which Jon will discover his true parentage, it is another to consider when Sansa will. There might be some time between Jon’s discovery and Sansa’s, and then some time before we come to a mutual understanding between the two.
But as I said, I think the set up for there being a blurring between the platonic/familial and romantic is solid, but as Jon is the more “romantically” experienced of the two, I see him realising the true significance of that blurring a bit sooner. Both are adept at concealment, but I think it’s notable that we’ve seen Jon being continuously offered not quite romance, with two separate women, in fact. But both are thwarted by circumstance and the character of the person involved.
In Ygritte’s case:
Her behaviour was coercive, she pressured Jon into a sexual relationship;
For all her winning smiles and husky singing, Ygritte is a remorseless killer, a facet of her personality that Jon cannot rationalise, nor condone. She is also notably violent and aggressive towards Jon;
Any continuation of their “romance” is ended with her death.
Again, we have this ease with violence that does not sit well with Jon;
She is also “a stranger to him”, there is no depth of feeling there, no love;
To marry her would be to allow the burning of Winterfell’s godswood, and it would be stealing the rightful inheritance from Sansa, thus confirming all Catelyn Stark’s worst fears about usurping bastards. It would not be honourable.
The above don’t represent real, fulfilling love. They wouldn’t give him what he truly wants, which is the love of a lady, the lordship of Winterful, all without the burden of shame. We see that buried romantic desire projected first onto Ygritte:
If I could show her Winterfell...give her a flower from the glass gardens, feast her in the Great Hall, and show her the stone kings on their thrones. We could bathe in the hot pools, and love beneath the heart tree while the old gods watched over us.
The dream was sweet...but Winterfell would never be his to show. It belonged to his brother, the King in the North. He was a Snow, not a Stark. Bastard, oathbreaker, and turncloak... – ASOS, Jon V
And then again with Val:
[...] marry Val, and become the Lord of Winterfell? It seemed an easy choice when he thought of it in those terms...though if Ygritte had still been alive, it might have been even easier. Val was a stranger to him. She was not hard on the eyes, certainly, and she had been sister to Mance Rayder's queen, but still...
I would need to steal her if I wanted her love, but she might give me children. I might someday hold a son of my own blood in my arms. A son was something Jon Snow had never dared dream of, since he decided to live his life on the Wall. I could name him Robb. Val would want to keep her sister's son, but we could foster him at Winterfell, and Gilly's boy as well. Sam would never need to tell his lie. We'd find a place for Gilly too, and Sam could come visit her once a year or so. Mance's son and Craster's would grow up brothers, as I once did with Robb.
He wanted it, Jon knew then. He wanted it as much as he had ever wanted anything. I have always wanted it, he thought, guiltily. May the gods forgive me. – ASOS, Jon XII
I think Jon is more attuned, having been through the above, to what it is he desires romantically, because he’s been offered chances, but they’ve been ultimately lacking (whereas Sansa will not be). Sansa, on the other hand, has been presented with...not even chances at love, because they’ve been forced upon her and are all awful, or at the very least pretty subpar. I just think she’s had such an awful time of it that just Jon being a safe, trusted, loving presence will be a big deal for her, but she won’t necessarily cotton on to the romantic desire that will be simmering beneath that. But Jon will.
Looking at their previous brushes with “love”, both their arcs, I am convinced, have been preparing them for...well, for true love. For love and Winterfell. For family and for home. For something meaningful and momentus, because afterall:
This is true love, you think this happens everyday? – The Princess Bride (1987)
Because you know, lines like this:
Can coexist with lines like this:
They can even be spoken by and, with equal measure, be believed in by the same character. Because life, and love, is contradictory like that. And equally, just as GRRM can be writing murders, assaults, and war crimes, left, right, and centre...he can also be a fan of The Princess Bride:
But I’m getting off topic again! I just can’t stop philosophising about love! Basically, in Winds, I think "full blown feelings” will depend on when, and probably how, Sansa finds out about Jon’s parentage, then how she responds. I can see the reveal being a catalyst for her consciously acknowledging her love for him — I think Jon will have realised this beforehand, resulting in all the mixed emotions I discussed previously. But is Sansa going to find out from the horse’s mouth, or through another source? In what context will she find out, how will she be feeling at this time, will she suppress her feelings for a bit, unsure whether he returns them? If it’s from another source, it could be politically motivated, i.e. this throws Robb’s will out the window, who do we want to inherit now? But if it comes from Jon? Well, that’s what I chose, because it’s more interesting to write...because it’s more emotionally loaded, especially if a love confession is thrown in there too, but those could equally be separate reveals.
I guess the issue with drawing things out, prolonging Sansa’s discovery, prolonging their mutual understanding, even within Winds, let alone into Dream, is...well, the emotional momentum will already be getting interrupted by the book’s structure of multiple povs, working on differing timelines, and in differing places. With all that emotion, all that foreshadowing behind them, foreshadowing that has been building up across books, across narratives, across years...GRRM will want to make the most of that, but likewise, he won’t want to botch it. It will be a delicate balance of seeing the first shoots of those long ago planted seeds starting to finally come up, nurturing them, making the possibility of Jonsa more and more explicit, and then seeing those plants bear full blown romantic fruit. You don’t want to rush things, but likewise, you want to keep the tension high, and you don’t want to skimp on impact.
So...you know what, yeah, maybe we will get “full blown feelings” in Winds, but I think it’ll be near the end, I think it’ll act as a possible cliffhanger, leading us into the next book, leading us into A Dream of Spring. Thematically, narratively, that could work quite well, because even if they acknowledge their mutual feelings, there will probably still be several obstacles in their way, e.g. the marriage to Tyrion, the impending, or then happening, Westerosi Ragnarök, etc.
The last thing I’ll say on this, coz I really have rambled on, is that I think the ball will be in Sansa’s court when it comes to making Jonsa happen. She’s been on the receiving end of so much unwanted, abusive attention, it would be a powerful thing for Jonsa to be her choice, e.g. if they kiss (come on, they gotta) it will be Sansa that makes the move, as a contrast to all those forced kisses. I mean, that’s what I chose to do in my fic, because it is a powerful act for both of them. For Sansa, it is finally giving her romantic agency, it is giving her choice, and for Jon, it is him being chosen, it is him receiving the message that he is worthy, worthy of a lady, of true love, of his dream girl, Sansa (and Jon has always wanted to be worthy). So why skimp on something that impactful? Why water that down? It would be inconceivable ;)
(This is why I’m slow on answering some asks...coz I will ANSWER)
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Safe And Sound (x)
In the Vale, Sansa's been living as Alayne Stone, while Littlefinger's been planning to betroth her to Harry the Heir and win back the North in her name. But when whispers of Arya Stark being forcibly wed to Ramsay Bolton reaches the Eyrie, a new game must be played. Sansa must reveal herself sooner than intended and ride to Winterfell with the Knights of the Vale at her back.
They head for the Wall to join forces with Stannis Baratheon but instead they meet a much changed Jon Snow who has Theon Greyjoy as his prisoner. Jon and Sansa must work together to take back Winterfell, if they want to prepare the North for the wars yet to come.
They need to trust each other. Their safety and capacity to love depends on it.
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Even if we hate how the show ended, we had to take it and break it so we can see a few things that WILL happen.
LF being judged by Sansa, Arya and Bran, for example. I would love to see Jon asking for a log, but there was a poetic justice (bad scripted, but still like Grrm may write, better) that these three deal with him because he put them were they are. He plotted Jon Arryn's death, that made Robert go North, Bran fall after he saw Jamie&Cersei, Ned, Arya & Sansa going South and so.
Sansa, Arya and Bran wouldn't be who they are if it wasn't for LF intervention. Jon decided to join the Watch before Robert came North. He may have gone and become who he is in another circunstances.
I am quite certain that we’ll see Littlefinger’s downfall in the books as well. And there is a certain poetry to the fact that the remaining children of Ned and Cat serve justice to Littlefinger for both their parents in this way. Considering how Sansa is predicted to be the one to ‘slay a giant within the walls of Winterfell’, I am not quite sure if it might not be just her who kills Littlefinger. Arya and Bran did not suffer his grooming and I think it would work as well if it was just Sansa.
In principle I agree though. GRRM has said nothing that the ending in the books will be different (just that it is just an ending, whatever that means) and I still think that we can get hints from the show.
And yet, I still struggle with the ending. I think that all endings together for all the characters do not fit well together. I can see how the characters’ trajectory might carry them to the ending they have on the show, but I still think that they do not work well together, Tyrion as Hand and Bran as King being the most obvious.
By now, I think it might even be that GRRM plans that ending for them and that is what he told D&D. I do not doubt that he’ll execute it better, but the main problem of the fact that the endings do not fit no matter how hard you try, might still be as prominent in the books as on the show. Mayybe this is even the reason why GRRM seemingly is not able to finish. Because in the end when all the thread are united it is not a beautiful picture as it could have been, but a jumble. And how do you fix that? Every thread, every character can make sense on its own but not as a whole.
We’ll have to see once the books come out (if they ever will!).
Thanks for the ask!
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"What do you know of my heart?" in A Dance with Dragons and Sense & Sensibility
...or, what exactly is in Jon Snow’s heart? A comparison between Jon Snow and Elinor Dashwood, looking especially at this particular quotation, "What do you know of my heart, [...]? What do you know of [...]?", and how it relates to both characters.
Originally this was a reblogged response to @agentrouka-blog 's post about potential Sense & Sensibility references in ASOIAF...sounds far fetched, doesn't it? Or is it...? I'm just reposting it as a standalone (with a few additions), since Rouka and I need this new discovery, which started off as a bit jokey, to be known!
Buckle up kids...
Ok, hear me out here!
As noted by the sharp-eyed Rouka, the "What do you know of my heart, [...]? What do you know of [...]?" quote exists only in two places: Jon's A Dance with Dragons chapter and Emma Thompson's script adaptation of Sense & Sensibility. It is strikingly identical. We could chalk that up as GRRM just being a fan of the phrasing, a fan of good writing — Thompson, after all, won an Oscar for her adapted screenplay. Maybe it is all just a big coincidence, an unconscious inclusion. Or...could it be something more?
In both instances, this line alludes to the concealment and suppression of love, of being forced, by circumstance, to remain silent on those feelings. In Elinor's case, she was made privy to the youthful (impulsive) engagement between her love, Edward Ferrars, and Lucy Steele, which had to remain secret because of the disapproval it would garner from Mrs Ferrars, Edward's snooty mother. This revelation — that Edward is an engaged man, not free to return her love, even if he should wish to (which he does) — is deeply crushing to her. Nevertheless, she feels duty bound to keep their secret, because she was told in confidence, and she feels a loyalty to her friendship with Edward, a man she still strongly esteems. Elinor, therefore, endeavours to conceal her true heartache, so as not to burden her family, or give up the secret, but this is misinterpreted by her younger sister, Marianne, as evidence of her indifference, her lack of romantic feeling. But of course, the opposite is true.
Contrast this with Jon, and we replace romantic love with familial devotion. Melisandre tells him that "your sister is not lost to you," and to this Jon reacts harshly: "I have no sister." Because by becoming a man of the Night's Watch, he has had to essentially forgo all familial loyalties, something we see him struggle with throughout the books. Melisandre tells Jon that Arya is not lost to him, and yet, in a way, she was lost to him the very moment he said his vows before the heart tree. That is the pain behind his words, behind his rebuttal. The reality is, of course, that she will always be his little sister (no matter what) — in his heart he feels that, yet his vows prevent him to act on it...until he does, with violent consequences.
Jon, in his internal thoughts, asks "What do you know of my heart, priestess?" But surely, Melisandre does know. She knows that "the heart [...] matters", she knows that Jon Snow loves his little sister, that he fears for her, that he wants to save her, and she uses that knowledge to convince him of her magic + red god. Melisandre knows. The person, I'd argue, who doesn't, is Jon. He doesn't know his heart, not consciously, at least. Likewise, he doesn't "know of [his] sister", because (1) there is more than one "sister", (2) the girl being forcibly married at Winterfell is Jeyne Poole, and (3) Sansa and Arya aren't his sisters anyway, they are his cousins.
Melisandre, again, does "know of [his] sister", but the twist is that she is seeing the wrong "sister". The girl in grey she sees is not Arya Stark (who is in Bravos), not Jeyne Poole (who isn't his "sister"), and not Alys Karstark (who didn't travel west of Long Lake + wasn't dressed in grey). It is Sansa Stark, who is very heavily connected with returning north, with Jon Snow, and with rebuilding Winterfell.
Additionally, if we look at the foreshadowing at work, prior to this interaction, we see a subconscious Sansa plant, in the form of Jon mistaking Melisandre for Ygritte:
Someone was behind him, he realized suddenly. Someone who smelled warm as a summer day.
When he turned he saw Ygritte.
She stood beneath the scorched stones of the Lord Commander’s Tower, cloaked in darkness and in memory. The light of the moon was in her hair, her red hair kissed by fire. When he saw that, Jon’s heart leapt into his mouth. “Ygritte,” he said.
“Lord Snow.” The voice was Melisandre’s.
Surprise made him recoil from her. “Lady Melisandre.” He took a step backwards. “I mistook you for someone else.” At night all robes are grey. Yet suddenly hers were red. He did not understand how he could have taken her for Ygritte. She was taller, thinner, older, though the moonlight washed years from her face. Mist rose from her nostrils, and from pale hands naked to the night. – ADWD, Jon VI
Other people have written about the implicit similiarities between Ygritte's most attractive qualities (to Jon) and Sansa elsewhere, so I won't get into that here. But it is interesting that we have this potential plant. With this in mind, however, we can sense Sansa even more strongly in the subtext of the conversation that follows, because she is, unbeknownst to the both of them, who this conversation is actually about.
To get back to Sense & Sensibility, weirdly enough, Melisandre is Marianne in this exchange. Melisandre is the sensibility to Jon's sense. Ergo, Jon is Elinor, which incidentally, gives me immense pleasure because my name is, in fact, Elinor! (Elinor hive RISE!) Melisandre/Marianne places an emphasis on the heart, on love prevailing in the face of adversity. Let's compare scenes, shall we, both in the film adaptation, and the novel:
MARIANNE: But Edward loves you.
ELINOR: He made me no promises. He tried to tell me about Lucy.
MARIANNE: He cannot marry her.
ELINOR: Would you have him treat her even worse than Willoughby has treated you?
MARIANNE: No--but nor would I have him marry where he does not love.
[ELINOR tries hard to be controlled.]
ELINOR: Edward made his promise a long time ago, long before he met me. Though he may... harbour some regret, I believe he will be happy--in the knowledge that he did his duty and kept his word. After all--after all that is bewitching in the idea of one's happiness depending entirely on one person, it is not always possible. We must accept. Edward will marry Lucy--and you and I will go home.
It really is a great adaptation, because the script is remarkably close to Austen's original novel, yet condenses it down to be more consumable on screen. But unlike the conversation between Melisandre and Jon, we know exactly who this conversation is about: Elinor's love interest, Edward.
"Four months!" cried Marianne again. "So calm! So cheerful! how have you been supported?"
"By feeling that I was doing my duty. My promise to Lucy, obliged me to be secret. I owed it to her, therefore, to avoid giving any hint of the truth; and I owed it to my family and friends, not to create in them a solicitude about me, which it could not be in my power to satisfy [...] I aquit Edward of all essential misconduct. I wish him very happy; and I am so sure of his always doing his duty, that though now he may harbour some regret, in the end he must become so. [...] And after all, Marianne, after all that is bewitching in the idea of a single and constant attachment, and all that can be said of one's happiness depending entirely on any particular person, it is not meant – it is not fit – it is not possible that it should be so – Edward will marry Lucy; he will marry a woman superior in person and understanding to half her sex; and time and habit will teach him to forget he ever thought another superior to her." – Sense & Sensibility, ch. 37
In both instances, in book and film, you see Marianne's romantic disbelief, her sensibility, vs. Elinor's resigned pragmatism, her sense. With the latter, you have an emphasis on duty, both her own, as well as the object of her affection's. Duty is a key theme here. Incidentally, duty is a key theme and characteristic associated with Jon. So, let's cut to the exchange in Dance, between him and Mel:
“You will freeze your fingers off,” Jon warned.
“If that is the will of R’hllor. Night’s powers cannot touch one whose heart is bathed in god’s holy fire.”
“Your heart does not concern me. Just your hands.” – ADWD, Jon VI
The "heart does not concern" Jon, or so he tries to convince himself. Instead, he tries to focus on his duty, just as Elinor does, and what is possible vs. impossible. And he keeps his silence on his true feelings.
MARIANNE: Always resignation and acceptance! Always prudence and honour and duty! Elinor, where is your heart?
We could easily say the exact same to Jon, because the same sentiments apply! Jon is the epitome of resignation and acceptance:
He had never truly been a Stark, only Lord Eddard's motherless bastard, with no more place at Winterfell than Theon Greyjoy. – ASOS, Jon III
He wanted it, Jon knew then. He wanted it as much as he had ever wanted anything. I have always wanted it, he thought, guiltily. May the gods forgive me. – ASOS, Jon XII
Jon has also displayed prudence, or caution, when making decisions:
After each day's march the Magnar summoned him to ask shrewd sharp questions about Castle Black, its garrison and defenses. Jon lied where he dared and feigned ignorance a few times, but Grigg the Goat and Errok listened as well, and they knew enough to make Jon careful. Too blatant a lie would betray him. – ASOS, Jon V
Jon had never liked surrounding himself with guards, but today it seemed prudent to keep a few good men beside him. – ADWD, Jon XII
As a man of the Night's Watch, he is literally a standard bearer for honour and duty:
"[...] The Night's Watch is a sworn brotherhood. We have no families. None of us will ever father sons. Our wife is duty. Our mistress is honor." – AGOT, Jon I
"So they will not love," the old man answered, "for love is the bane of honor, the death of duty." – AGOT, Jon VIII
But more than that, as Ned Stark's "son", the child who looks most like him, Jon is connected to honour and duty through his Starkness:
He had a duty to Robert, to the realm, to the shade of Jon Arryn … and to Bran, who surely must have stumbled on some part of the truth. – AGOT, Eddard XII
Ned gave him a stony stare. "Have you no shred of honor?" – AGOT, Eddard XIII
"Lord Eddard Stark was not a man to sleep with whores," Jon said icily. "His honor—" – AGOT, Jon III
He was no true Stark, had never been one … but he could die like one. Let them say that Eddard Stark had fathered four sons, not three. – AGOT, Jon IX
Similarly, another way in which Jon and Elinor's characters are comparable are their good judgement. They are both very observant:
Jon's eyes were a grey so dark they seemed almost black, but there was little they did not see. – AGOT, Bran I
Jon had noticed that too. A bastard had to learn to notice things, to read the truth that people hid behind their eyes. – AGOT, Jon I
Elinor, for her part, sees the change in Willoughby's behaviour towards Marianne for what it is — nothing good — whereas her more "romantic" mother and sister do not:
"[...] And, after all, what is it you suspect him of?"
"I can hardly tell you myself. But suspicions of something unpleasant is the inevitable consequence of such an alteration as we have just witnessed in him. There is great truth, however, in what you have now urged of the allowances which ought to be made of him, and it is my wish to be candid in my judgement of everybody. Willoughby may undoubtedly have very sufficient reasons for his conduct, and I will hope that he has. But it would have been more like Willoughby to acknowledge them at once. Secrecy may be advisable; but still I cannot help wondering at its being practised in him." – Sense & Sensibility, ch. 15
...guys? Is Jon Elinor? Is Elinor Jon? As an Elinor myself...yes.
Furthermore, both Elinor and Jon end up duty bound into concealing their true feelings, both have to play a part — the confidant and the black brother. In Elinor's case, obviously in regards to Edward, but Jon is concealing left, right, and centre: (1) his abiding love for the Starks, (2) his loyalty to the Watch when he's with the Free Folk, (3) his desire for a loving lady wife, son called Robb, the Stark name, and Winterfell. Hell, his entire existence — R+L=J — is a concealment!
A part, he tried to remind himself afterward. I am playing a part. I had to do it once, to prove I'd abandoned my vows. I had to make her trust me. It need never happen again. He was still a man of the Night's Watch, and a son of Eddard Stark. He had done what needed to be done, proved what needed to be proven. – ASOS, Jon III
"It need never happen again." Oh dear, Jon. Unfortunately, yes it will. Admittedly, these might just be accidental similarities, but even so, put all together it is very interesting. (Once again, Elinor hive RISE!) But back to that key scene and shared quote.
To Marianne, the "heart" is key, and she makes that explicitly clear to Elinor. As does Melisandre to Jon:
“The heart is all that matters. Do not despair, Lord Snow. Despair is a weapon of the enemy, whose name may not be spoken. Your sister is not lost to you.” – ADWD, Jon VI
After both Marianne's "Elinor, where is your heart?" and Melisandre's "The heart is all that matters," we see our stoic hero and heroine break, though interestingly, only one of them explicitly states their true feelings, for the other it remains unspoken. Unconfronted.
[ELINOR finally explodes. She turns upon MARIANNE almost savagely.]
ELINOR: What do you know of my heart? What do you know of anything but your own suffering? For weeks, Marianne, I have had this pressing on me without being at liberty to speak of it to a single creature. It was forced upon me by the very person whose prior claims ruined all my hopes. I have had to endure her exultation again and again while knowing myself to be divided from Edward forever. Believe me, Marianne, had I not been bound to silence I could have produced proof enough of a broken heart even for you. [source] [youtube]
Elinor accuses Marianne of being so consumed by her own situation with Willoughby that she became blind to the truth of Elinor's real feelings, how she was suffering in put upon silence. Melisandre, though she recognises that "the heart is all that matters", is still nevertheless blinded by her fanatacism, arguably another kind of sensibility, in other ways — e.g. the fact that she's got the wrong sister, who isn't a sister at all.
“I have no sister.” The words were knives. What do you know of my heart, priestess? What do you know of my sister? – ADWD, Jon VI
For Jon, his sister is his point of "suffering", because like Elinor, he feels powerless in the face of seemingly immovable circumstance, coincidently, in the form of previous promises — his vows to the Night's Watch, and Edward's engagement to Lucy, respectively. So yes, what does Melisandre, like Marianne with Elinor, know of Jon's heart? Both have been too consumed by their own obsessions: Marianne with Willoughby, and Melisandre with R'hllor, both of which have proven to be, or will prove to be, deceptive and misleading. It's an admittedly weird comparison, Melisandre and Marianne, but...it kind of works? In the context of those scenes, it works.
Arya, and Jon's familial love for her, is foregrounded explicitly in this conversation, as well as in Jon's thoughts. So we know that Jon loves her, that was never in doubt. That is not what is being left unconfronted, or rather, unrealised. Because as stated earlier, we also have this foreshadowing towards Sansa, both as the girl in grey, and also, more subtly still, in the confusion between Ygritte and Melisandre. That is where these two scenes differ hugely — apart from, you know, the obvious genre differences — because where Elinor reveals, Jon keeps on concealing. Why? And also, what? What is in your heart, Jon? What do you not know of your own heart?
Ok, so still with me? My question is, why reference this scene, word for word, and this character of Elinor Dashwood, if there isn't a romantic subtext to all of this, a romance that is, as of yet, purely in the subconscious, waiting to be brought out into the light?
This may be completely crazy, but I think that the reason why GRRM referenes Sense & Sensibility, the reason why we can make a reasonable character comparison between Jon and Elinor...is because it is foreshadowing how Jon will have to conceal his feelings for Sansa — which will develop post-reunion, causing much angst —, akin to how Elinor conceals hers for Edward.
"I understand you – You do not suppose that I have ever felt much – For four months, Marianne, I have had all this hanging on my mind, without being at liberty to speak of it to a single creature; knowing that it would make you and my mother most unhappy whenever it were explained to you, yet unable to prepare you for it in the least – It was told me – it was in a manner forced on me by the very person herself, whose prior engagement ruined all my prospects; and told me, as I thought, with triumph – This person's suspicions, therefore, I have had to oppose, by endeavouring to appear indifferent where I have been most deeply interested – and it has not been only once – I have had her hopes and exultation to listen to again and again – I have known myself to be divided from Edward for ever, without hearing one circumstance that could make me less desire the connection – Nothing has proved him unworthy; nor has anything declared him indifferent to me – I have had to content against the unkindness of his sister, and the insolence of his mother; and have suffered the punishment of an attachment, without enjoying its advantages – And all this has been going on at a time, when, as you too well know, it has not been my only unhappiness – If you can think me capable of ever feeling – surely you may suppose that I have suffered now. The composure of mind with which I have brought myself at present to consider the matter, the consolation that I have been willing to admit, have been the effect of constant and painful exertion – they did not spring up of themselves – they did not occur to relieve my spirits at first – No, Marianne – Then, if I had not been bound to silence, perhaps nothing could have kept me entirely – not even what I owed to my dearest friends – from openly showing that I was very unhappy." – Sense & Sensibility, ch. 37
Just as the "sister", the "girl in grey," actually points to Sansa, so does this (frankly outrageous, George) reference to Sense & Sensibility.
Melisandre seemed amused. “What is her name, this little sister that you do not have?”
“Arya.” His voice was hoarse. “My half-sister, truly …”
“… for you are bastard born. I had not forgotten. I have seen your sister in my fires, fleeing from this marriage they have made for her. Coming here, to you. A girl in grey on a dying horse, I have seen it plain as day. It has not happened yet, but it will.” – ADWD, Jon VI
Yes, quite. "It has not happened yet, but it will." Jon, you don't know your heart, but honey, you will.
What do you know of my heart, priestess? What do you know of my sister? – ADWD, Jon VI
These two questions, placed side by side, are connected. The text makes us believe so. It makes us believe that what is in Jon's heart is his sister. But what we know is that his sisters are not his sisters, and that there is a sister he is not acknowledging here.
“I have no sister.” The words were knives. – ADWD, Jon VI
This question, this "What do you know of my heart?", is, unlike in Sense & Sensibility, being left unspoken. Therefore, I would argue, that the true answer is being left unspoken by the author as well. It is being left in the subconscious, rather than the concious, just like the truth of Jon's parentage, just like "What [we] you know of [his] sister?" is that they (plural!) are not his sisters.
Basically, post-resurrection, post-reunion, Jon will be forced by circumstance, by his belief that Sansa is his half-sister, into keeping his true feelings secret, just as Elinor was forced into secrecy by Lucy Steele. If their forbidden feelings develop side-by-side, we may even see Sansa emulating Elinor as well, who knows, though I think Jon will be the one to start feeling things first. Notably, Lucy has this to say about why she felt safe in telling Elinor of her hidden engagement:
"[...] And I do not think Mr Ferrars can be displeased, when he knows I have trusted you, because I know he has the highest opinion in the world of all your family, and looks upon yourself and the other Miss Dashwoods, quite as his own sisters." – Sense & Sensibility, ch. 22
Likewise, this sentiment is repeated in the film adaptation:
LUCY: You may well be surprised. I should never have mentioned it, had I not known I could entirely trust you to keep our secret. Edward cannot mind me telling you for he looks on you quite as his own sister.
Edward, according to Lucy, sees Elinor as a sister. Sansa, according to Jon, sees him as a half-brother. Although, they notably lack the sibling closeness of Arya and Jon...
He missed the girls too, even Sansa, who never called him anything but "my half brother" since she was old enough to understand what bastard meant. – AGOT, Jon III
But of course, Elinor is not Edward's sister, and the engagement between Lucy and Edward, in the end, does not come to pass, even after it is revealed to Mrs Ferrars, even after Edward dutifully stands by Lucy despite his mother's ire, and as a result forfeits his inheritance. In the end, Lucy kicks Edward to the curb in favour of the new heir, his brother Robert. But prior to that, Colonel Brandon suggests to Elinor that Edward (who he has never met) might take up the clerical post on his land so that he may have a living to support himself and Lucy. This is notable, because Edward always wanted the quiet life of a clergyman, and it is his relationship with Elinor which enables this offer. Then, once the engagement with Lucy is broken off, he is able to have not only the life he always wanted, he is able to share it with the person he most truly loves as well.
If we compare that to Jon and Sansa, likewise, Sansa is not Jon's half-sibling, but his cousin (hello, Fanny + Edmund from Mansfield Park). The circumstances that require his secrecy will inevitably be lifted through his parentage reveal — a future revelation that no one can deny isn't happening — but prior to that, he will stoically stand by his duty, he will cling to his sense of honour:
Jon said, "Winterfell belongs to my sister Sansa." – ADWD, Jon IV
So in this way, Jon will parallel not only Elinor, but also Edward, both characters who are well-matched by their sense of duty. We've already briefly looked at Jon's connection to duty, but Sansa is, notably, equally dutiful, and as the story progresses, becomes equally resigned to that which she believes she cannot have:
I don't want any Lannister, she wanted to say. I want Willas, I want Highgarden and the puppies and the barge, and sons named Eddard and Bran and Rickon. But then she remembered what Dontos had told her in the godswood. Tyrell or Lannister, it makes no matter, it's not me they want, only my claim. "You are kind, my lord," she said, defeated. "I am a ward of the throne and my duty is to marry as the king commands." – ASOS, Sansa III
It is not me she wants her son to marry, it is my claim. No one will ever marry me for love. – ASOS, Sansa VI
But then, like pretty much all Jane Austen couples, their "misunderstandings" (the truth of their relation, the fear of unrequited feelings) and the obstacles in their way (marriage to Tyrion, etc.) will eventually be lifted and a true meeting of minds will prevail. Another way in which Sansa and Jon could parallel Elinor and Edward, is that through marriage to their respective ladies, both men recieve their deepest desires — for Edward, life as a cleryman and the love of Elinor, and for Jon, the Stark name (+ Winterfell), and the love of a true lady (his foreshadowed dream girl)...aka the ladiest lady to ever lady, whose direwolf was also called Lady etc., etc.
Something that also makes this Sense & Sensibility reference in Jon's Dance chapter stand out, as possibily more than just a bizarre coincidence, is the inclusion of an Elinor in Sansa's pov...Elinor Tyrell:
Sansa recognized only Lord Tyrell's tall, dignified wife, Lady Alerie, whose long silvery braid was bound with jeweled rings. Margaery performed the other introductions. There were three Tyrell cousins, Megga and Alla and Elinor, all close to Sansa's age. – ASOS, Sansa I
Elinor also appears in Cersei and Tyrion's pov, but it is notably in Sansa's that she is first mentioned. Obviously, Elinor Tyrell is very different from the sensible and nuanced Elinor Dashwood. When I first saw my name in ASOIAF, I was a bit miffed because she's a tiny character, a Tyrell — I'd have preferred a Dayne, Hightower, or Blackwood, one of those cool, mysterious houses! — and she ends up embroiled in Cersei's plot to take down Margaery...so not great.
But now...now I'm re-evaluating, because, as an Elinor, I can tell you that I don't come across my spelling that much. El-ea-nor? Sure, just in English medieval history you have Queens Eleanor of Aquitane, of Castile, of Provence. But El-i-nor? Nope, not really. Elinor Dashwood is the OG Elinor, the one, the only really, literary Elinor. So, if you namedrop an Elinor then you are telling me that you are, at the very least, aware of Austen and Sense & Sensibility. But what is in a name? It could be that GRRM was just looking for a name for a very minor character and thought hey! Elinor, that's got a funky spelling — a bit like Jeyne, instead of Jane — let's just drop that in, no more thought about it. Incidentally, there is another Elinor, mentioned in The World of Ice & Fire (2014), FIre & Blood (2018), and The Sons of the Dragon (2017) — Elinor Costayne, later a Queen Elinor.
Is this Elinor comparable to Elinor Dashwood? Not really. So this could support the idea that GRRM was just fond of the name, he just thought it sounded right, and yet we know he chooses his names fairly carefully, and that he is interested in their meanings:
GRRM: I have a library and have for years of ‘what to name your baby’ books. Even though I’ve never had a baby. I’m always picking up new 'what to name your baby’ books, and 'what to name your baby’ books in other countries and all that, and you find cool sounding names. [source]
The names Arya and Sansa are meant to represent the polar opposites of their characters, Arya being a hard sounding name, Sansa a softer more pretty name, etc. [source]
Also, in the first linked source, which is a video, GRRM also talks about adapting specifically medieval English names for his characters:
GRRM: I wanted the flavour of medieval England, that was my goal, so I took some actual medieval names, some actual names that we still use today, like Robert. And in some cases, I tweaked them a little, like I made Edward into Eddard. If you actually look at medieval history, people didn't know how to spell their own names. There were a million variants.
Except, as far as I know, whilst Elinor is a variant of the more common Eleanor, which is itself connected to Helen...it is not a medieval variant, and it is not one created by GRRM, like Jane into Jeyne, or Edward into Eddard. If we look at Eleanor of Aquitane, for example, the medieval variants of her name are Alienor and Aenor. There is also an Eleanor variant used by Tolkein, Elanor, a name of a flower, but aslo a name given to Samwise's daughter. We all know GRRM's appreciation for Tolkein, so why not Elanor? Why Elinor?
In terms of popularity, Eleanor became established regularly by the 12th century but it wasn't especially common outside of the nobility. By the 15th century however, it became more established among all strata of society. [source]
Whether or not Elinor was a name used in the medieval period isn't very clear, and if it was, Eleanor was already rare, so Elinor would be rarer still. So, no, it doesn't really have its origins in medieval England, instead it first made (minor) waves during the Regency period, in 1811 when Sense & Sensibility was published.
Frankly, I just don't think you can include the name Elinor without being aware of the connection to Jane Austen and Sense & Sensibility, especially if you are a writer. Furthermore, Elinor Tyrell's inclusion in A Storm of Swords (2000) predates Elinor Costayne. But like I said, Elinor Tyrell doesn't really resemble Elinor Dashwood in anything but name...except:
Closest to Sansa's own age were the cousins Elinor, Alla, and Megga, Tyrells from junior branches of the House. "Roses from lower on the bush," quipped Elinor, who was witty and willowy. Megga was round and loud, Alla shy and pretty, but Elinor ruled the three by right of womanhood; she was a maiden flowered, whereas Megga and Alla were mere girls. – ASOS, Sansa II
We don't know if they are sisters, but Elinor Tyrell is the eldest, the "leader" of the three Tyrell cousins, not disimiliar to Elinor Dashwood, who is the eldest of the Dashwood sisters (Elinor, Marianne + Margaret), as well as the most responsible. So, there is a tentative link there, a tentative nod to Sense & Sensibility and the Dashwoods...first mentioned in Sansa's pov. As discussed, the next reference is in Jon's pov. Two Sense & Sensibility references, whether you believe them to be there or not, in Sansa and Jon's povs, respectively. It certainly gives me pause, because if the foreshadowing in Jon's chapter didn't already point towards Sansa, then the Elinor namedrop, to my mind, draws them together and puts these two references in conversation with one another.
Honestly, if GRRM has had the AUDACITY to knowingly reference the work of a woman who famously assured her readers "my characters shall have, after a little trouble, all that they desire," and then he doesn't follow through and do the same for Jon and Sansa...well, I'm not sure what I'll do. I'll be MAD, to say the least. You don't mess around with the master, you don't reference Jane Austen if you're not going to end your story with a happy marriage. Marriage. Ending in marriage. Wait, hang on a minute...!
Yes, I mean, I did partly joke when I said I don't know where I was going. I know the broad strokes, and I've known the broad strokes since 1991. I know who's going to be on the Iron Throne. I know who's gonna win some of the battles, I know the mayor characters, who's gonna die and how they're gonna die, and who's gonna get married and all that. The major characters.
[question if he knows Arya's and Jon's fates]
Tyrion, Arya, Jon, Sansa, you know, all of the Stark kids, and the major Lannisters, yeah. [source]
So, in conclusion, the "What do you know of my heart, [...]? What do you know of [...]?" quote found in both Jon's A Dance with Dragons chapter, and Emma Thompson's Sense & Sensibility script...may NOT be a coincidence, especially if we pair it with the inclusion of Elinor Tyrell in Sansa's pov. The romance between Jon and Sansa therefore may end up somewhat echoing the one between Elinor Dashwood and Edward Ferrars — imposed (but temporary) secrecy, seemingly unsure affections, which nevertheless ends happily. Maybe that sounds too good to be true, but as I said...you don't fuck around and find out with a Jane Austen reference, my man. You just don't.
(This started off as kind of crack and just a fun comparison, but now I've sort of convinced myslef...?!)
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Not an Embrace by bubug
For @ladytp 's fanfiction Winter thy enemy, thy friend commissioned by @lalloo75
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Nina Carlsen Photography
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Sansa WiP :)
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House Lannister ~ «A Song of Ice and Fire»
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Sansa returning to winterfell
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Sansa Stark of Winterfell by Angelica Arfini
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I noticed that the Family Tree foreshadowing is never discussed in the ASOIAF fandom to debunk our deluded speculations.
Because it’s impregnable. There is no debunking. Their only course of action is to ignore it, and pretend it doesn’t exist. What is the counter argument to Jonnel and Sansa Stark? How do you explain it away? Impossible.
Jonnel (One-Eye) Stark, son of Lynara Stark, married his blood relative, Sansa Stark.
Like, my god.
For the people that ship Sansa or Jon with another character, that piece of information has got to be shattering. It’s brutal. No mental gymnastics can overcome it. If I was dropped on my head as a child, eventually grew up to become a Sansan, and I saw that sitting in the Stark lineage, I’d have to move on with my life.
I would say I’ve read a good amount of the strongest theories, foreshadowing, parallels and clues that other fandoms like to champion their ships with, and I can say without bias (I mean not really, but I know I’m right), they don’t have anything even remotely as significant or glaring as Jonnel and Sansa Stark.
I started my fandom days on Reddit, knew a lot of the more well known Jonsa arguments (Ashford, the outline, drifting snowflakes), thought it was an intriguing idea, but mostly stayed impartial. It wasn’t until I made my way to tumblr long after the show ended, and I read everything in its totality, that I realized the inevitability of Jon and Sansa.
But what I’ll never forget is when I finally got to @occupyvenus‘s Jonnel and Sansa Stark post. I was DUMBFOUNDED. I could not for the life of me understand why this wasn’t the primary evidence used to support the theory. Why had I never heard of this? Why was this not in the Alt Shift X Jonsa video? Why do BNFs and the fandom not talk about this? Why is this not treated with the same legitimacy as the Ashford theory?
This is the Ashford theory on steroids.
Once upon a time, in the universe of A Song of Ice and Fire, there was a girl named Sansa Stark. She had a suitor. His name was Jonnel Stark. They were related. They married.
And don’t get me wrong, I bloody love the Ashford theory. It’s a brilliant piece of foreshadowing, and the parallels between Jon Snow and Valarr Targaryen are incredible (omg please read The Black Prince With The White Guardian by @butterflies-dragons).
But the thing with Jonnel and Sansa is that nobody can trot out their bullshit to dismiss it. There’s no alternative way to interpret it. Nobody can claim it’s an oopsie coincidence. There’s no playing ignorant and pretending Jonnel Stark is meant to represent Aegon VI Targaryen. Nobody is bending themselves into a pretzel trying to parallel the Hound with Duncan the Tall. Jonnel and Sansa are invincible.
There’s no way around the fact that a Jon and Sansa got married in canon. That exists. In the Stark lineage. George did that.
And that’s when I realized why I had never really heard about it before. It’s a nightmare for them, so best to not acknowledge it.
Everything about it is bad...
The lengths George went to in making sure it was abundantly clear that Jonnel Stark is a direct representation of Jon Snow. Lynara Stark? One-Eye? Made heir to Winterfell after the death of his older brother? JONnel? Hilarious. It’s so over the top, they don’t even try to posture like this could somehow not be a reference to Jon.
The timing of its release? 2014. This didn’t come out in the 90s. We’re dealing with newer material here, succeeding even the last book in the series, making this all quite relevant. Equally as bad, it predates Jon and Sansa reuniting on the show. They don’t get to claim it’s silly George giving a wink and smile to a major shipping faction, because that fandom largely didn’t exist.
The circumstances of how it came to be? A last minute add to the lineage! Are you friggin kidding me? Why so compelled to add that in, Georgie?
But worst of all? Jonos Frey. Oh my god. Jonos fucking Frey. Third child of Rhaegar Frey. That right there is the killing blow. That’s how they know this is big trouble. For GRRM to spoil the most substantial secret in the entire series (other than maybe King Bran), in the exact same way, using another little cutesy variation of Jon’s name, is devastating. There goes any hope of ever convincing yourself GRRM would never reveal something so important in such a flippant way. There goes any hope of ever convincing yourself it has to be meaningless.
So, what do they do? They ignore it. They have to. It simply doesn’t exist. They’ll dedicate themselves to countering all major Jonsa evidence with their flimsy nonsense, but they never touch this. What is there to say?
But never forget, if a Jonnel (One-Eye) Stark, son of Lynara Stark, had married an Arya or Daenerys in the Stark or Targaryan lineage, you’d never hear the end of it. Never. They’d smother you to death with it. It would be confirmation that their ship is endgame, and everyone else can pack it up.
Jonsas, don’t let them gaslight you. Don’t question your own judgement of how big it is. It’s not a clue or an Easter egg, it’s a bomb sitting on a page, begging to be noticed.
Anyway, wow, this really got away from me, lol. Thanks for the message.
If anyone wants to read more about Jonnel (One-Eye) Stark, son of Lynara Stark, husband and blood relative to Sansa Stark (And why wouldn’t you!?), I implore you to read the following:
The Original @occupyvenus
Just Some Thoughts on Jonnel One-Eye Stark and Sansa Stark @estherruth-jonsatrash
Jon ‘One Eye’ & Sansa Stark @ladyofasoiaf
And I suppose you could read my original commentary on it, but there’s no real literary analysis, it’s just me screaming “Are you kidding me!?” for several paragraphs. :) Here.
<3 <3 <3
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𝖆 𝖈𝖑𝖆𝖘𝖍 𝖔𝖋 𝕶𝖎𝖓𝖌𝖘
𝓢𝓪𝓷𝓼𝓪 𝓪𝓷𝓭 𝓐𝓻𝔂𝓪
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Does anyone know fanfics that Sansa dies in childbirth? It doesn't necessarily have to be Jonsa, but I prefer it to be.
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