Of all of the female characters that appear on HBO's "Game of Thrones," Sansa Stark comes across as the least empowered. Always subject to the vicious whims of both Joffrey and his mother, Cersei, Sansa has truly suffered a great deal in the first two seasons. However, she also has an inner core of strength, which she uses to her own benefit whenever she can.
From the very beginning of the series, viewers are not encouraged to see Sansa as empowered or independent-minded as either her mother or even her sister, Arya. In the beginning, all she wants to do is whatever she can to ensure that Joffrey loves her and that she is able to gain her fairy-tale ending. Very quickly, however, she gets caught up in the terrible storm that sweeps her father away, leaving her alone and abandoned within the enemy camp.
It is precisely at this point, when all hope is seemingly lost, that Sansa begins to show her inner strength. Certainly, she does not have it in her to openly rebel against her husband-to-be or her domineering future mother-in-law, Cersei, but she does persevere in the face of challenges that would no doubt overcome or crush a young woman of lesser stamina. The very fact that Sansa is able to survive at all is a powerful testament to her powers of survival and the fact that, like all of her family, she will be able to survive despite everything.
At the same time, however, we also have to note that there are moments when she's rebellious. For all that Joffrey tries to keep her subjugated as much as possible, it is clear from her performance that she has not completely bought into her submission. Though she mouths the platitudes and submissive statements that Joffrey expects of her, she still retains her loyalty and love to her family.
Clearly, therefore, we need to look beyond the surface of Sansa to see the inner strength. Doing so allows fans to understand the ways in which she seeks to reclaim power for her own, and just as importantly, allows us to see that she is just as empowered and full of agency as her mother and sister, who are more obviously agents in their own right. As the next few seasons will show, she is a woman who has a force all of her own.
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