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sweetsunray

The bear and the maiden fair - an analysis of all bear related themes in aSoIaF

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59 minutes ago, Equilibrium said:

@sweetsunray I actually read the Valkyrie of FM some time ago, I thought it was very good, can't say I recall particular stuff about swans. Now have you thought about symbolism of black swans specifically, as unexpected and unpredictable event. Swans are black and white and so is the House of Black and White and FM are pretty unpredictable bunch. Granted I am talking of top of my head and I will definitely have to read the whole thing again when I muster some time.

I will definitely dream of bears tonight.

 

 

The Black Swan stuff is so fascinating. The fact that there were 3 Swans is just 0_0

Arya felt as though the lake were calling her. She wanted to leap into those placid blue waters, to feel clean again, to swim and splash and bask in the sun. But she dare not take off her clothes where the others could see, not even to wash them. At the end of the day she would often sit on a rock and dangle her feet in the cool water. She had finally thrown away her cracked and rotted shoes. Walking barefoot was hard at first, but the blisters had finally broken, the cuts had healed, and her soles had turned to leather. The mud was nice between her toes, and she liked to feel the earth underfoot when she walked.

From up here, she could see a small wooded island off to the northeast. Thirty yards from shore, three black swans were gliding over the water, so serene . . . no one had told them that war had come, and they cared nothing for burning towns and butchered men. She stared at them with yearning. Part of her wanted to be a swan the other part wanted to eat one. -  (Arya, A Clash of Kings)

grrm literally writes "Arya felt as though the lake was calling her - ". 

She ends up at Acorn Hall and meets Lady Smallwood (of House Swann) their sigil is a black & white swan facing each other. 

Arya is literally the odd one out among Ned's children, born with the traditional dark Stark colouring unlike all her siblings who followed the Tully side. 

 

Arya_Nym collected some interesting quotes:

 

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2 hours ago, Equilibrium said:

And Maege Mormont, as far as we know she left with Glover to find Howland Reed and she bears Robb's will. Given that she is probably in the Neck at present, she has means, motive and opportunity to take vengeance on Frays.

Maege is Septa Unella. https://asongoficeandtootles.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/the-art-of-the-red-berring-cerseis-3-septas/

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On 5/4/2016 at 10:19 PM, Seams said:

("Hoary old snark" has a lot of the same letters as Arya Stark,

You can ALMOST make Lord Arya Stark.

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12 minutes ago, DutchArya said:

The Black Swan stuff is so fascinating. The fact that there were 3 Swans is just 0_0

Arya felt as though the lake were calling her. She wanted to leap into those placid blue waters, to feel clean again, to swim and splash and bask in the sun. But she dare not take off her clothes where the others could see, not even to wash them. At the end of the day she would often sit on a rock and dangle her feet in the cool water. She had finally thrown away her cracked and rotted shoes. Walking barefoot was hard at first, but the blisters had finally broken, the cuts had healed, and her soles had turned to leather. The mud was nice between her toes, and she liked to feel the earth underfoot when she walked.

From up here, she could see a small wooded island off to the northeast. Thirty yards from shore, three black swans were gliding over the water, so serene . . . no one had told them that war had come, and they cared nothing for burning towns and butchered men. She stared at them with yearning. Part of her wanted to be a swan the other part wanted to eat one. -  (Arya, A Clash of Kings)

grrm literally writes "Arya felt as though the lake was calling her - ". 

She ends up at Acorn Hall and meets Lady Smallwood (of House Swann) their sigil is a black & white swan facing each other. 

Arya is literally the odd one out among Ned's children, born with the traditional dark Stark colouring unlike all her siblings who followed the Tully side. 

 

Arya_Nym collected some interesting quotes:

 

Maybe the 3 black swans imply that there are 3 swan maidens in the story: definitely Arya, likely Sansa (per the swan dishes Tyrion gets offered and rejects after the first time, and once it's a black swan, but him preferring 'tarts'), and I would say Dany (since she becomes one of Jorah's swan maiden that he hopes to catch).

Absolutely: Lady Smallwood is feminine, but she can stand pretty much on her own to man (even foul mouthed, sexual affair with a singer), and she is a Swann of the Red Watch, and tells Arya that she's pretty.

The "Black Swan" was a courtesan. There are a lot of Swan references with regards to the Summer Isles (the ships are called swan-ships, they wear feathers, and sexually liberated, teaching Sam). And Arya's fascination for the Braavos courtesans, their grace, what they do, "floating" in barges is also swan-like. The "Black Pearl" is a courtesan with Summer Isle blood.

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4 minutes ago, sweetsunray said:

Maybe the 3 black swans imply that there are 3 swan maidens in the story: definitely Arya, likely Sansa (per the swan dishes Tyrion gets offered and rejects after the first time, and once it's a black swan, but him preferring 'tarts'), and I would say Dany (since she becomes one of Jorah's swan maiden that he hopes to catch).

Absolutely: Lady Smallwood is feminine, but she can stand pretty much on her own to man (even foul mouthed, sexual affair with a singer), and she is a Swann of the Red Watch, and tells Arya that she's pretty.

The "Black Swan" was a courtesan. There are a lot of Swan references with regards to the Summer Isles (the ships are called swan-ships, they wear feathers, and sexually liberated, teaching Sam). And Arya's fascination for the Braavos courtesans, their grace, what they do, "floating" in barges is also swan-like. The "Black Pearl" is a courtesan with Summer Isle blood.

They are black swans though. Why not just regular white ones? That was intentional. 

This actually might call back to Nassim Nicholas Taleb Black Swan Theory:

A “black swan” is a highly improbable event that ends up having a huge impact later on, and in hindsight is explained away as if it were logical the entire time it comes 3 characteristics: 1. surprise factor 2. has major impact 3. logical in hindsight

So that might be 3 black swan events coming up in Arya's story. 

The Swan Lake references to Arya are very interesting. 

More from Arya_Nym:

 

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13 minutes ago, DutchArya said:

This actually might call back to Nassim Nicholas Taleb Black Swan Theory:

You know I never heard of the term, but I checked it out, and I think you may be right that is what the 3 black swans on the lake may have as a layered meaning:

That Arya is an outlier character with an outlier endgame, very improbable (something the reader totally does not expect), but with major impact on the other events (and I have argued that Arya's Blind Beth spying on the Lys slavers talking about Hardhome is probably what prompted Tycho to not make much difficulty for Jon using his ships to rescue "women and children" from Hardhome), and in hindsight completely logical. 

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2 minutes ago, sweetsunray said:

You know I never heard of the term, but I checked it out, and I think you may be right that is what the 3 black swans on the lake may have as a layered meaning:

That Arya is an outlier character with an outlier endgame, very improbable (something the reader totally does not expect), but with major impact on the other events (and I have argued that Arya's Blind Beth spying on the Lys slavers talking about Hardhome is probably what prompted Tycho to not make much difficulty for Jon using his ships to rescue "women and children" from Hardhome), and in hindsight completely logical. 

It's just so interesting and I was hoping someone would do a deeper analysis on this connection between Arya and the Black Swans. I haven't found discussion on this topic, beyond this forum - great discussion btw. 

Skinny as they were, her legs were strong and springy and growing longer every day. She was glad of that. A water dancer needs good legs. Blind Beth was no water dancer, but she would not be Beth forever. - The Blind Girl, ADWD

Her plans of water dancing stay with her. In Winds, grrm highlight's her gracefulness both in character and physical behaviour. 

What could the future hold... 

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Well I'll just repost the swan-lake quotes and other swan references that I gathered in the Valkyrie thread:

WATER DANCING

Quote

Syrio "Just so. Now we will begin the dance. Remember, child, this is not the iron dance of Westeros we are learning, the knight's dance, hacking and hammering, no. This is the bravo's dance, the water dance, swift and sudden. All men are made of water, do you know this? When you pierce them, the water leaks out and they die." (Arya II, aGoT)

So, this says that Water Dancing is the bravo's dance. It's a fighting style. But if there's a Swan Lake link it means it is certainly to take place in or involving Braavos. Note that Syrio declares Arya II, in KL, is where her Swan Lake ballet story BEGINS.

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Illyrio to Varys: "You have danced the dance before, my friend." He was no one Arya had ever seen before, she was certain of it. Grossly fat, yet he seemed to walk lightly, carrying his weight on the balls of his feet as a water dancer might. (Arya III, aGoT)

Illyrio we learn later was once a bravo fighter, and thus a water dancer. Arya notes that though he's really really fat, he walks like a water dance... she particularly notes how he uses his feet, what part he walks on. The balls of the feet means he doesn' tput his weight on his heels, but the front of his feet, more like a ballet dancer.

 
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On the way back to his chambers, he came upon his daughter Arya on the winding steps of the Tower of the Hand, windmilling her arms as she struggled to balance on one leg. The rough stone had scuffed her bare feet. Ned stopped and looked at her. "Arya, what are you doing?"
"Syrio says a water dancer can stand on one toe for hours." Her hands flailed at the air to steady herself.
Ned had to smile. "Which toe?" he teased.
"Any toe." (Eddard V, aGoT)

 

 
Arya stands on her toes, on one leg. This is indeed reminiscint of ballet. Ballet dancers learn to stand upright, balanced without falling, on the tip of their toes, often on one leg. It's explicity linked to the water dancing. So, "water dancing" = "ballet" and Swan Lake is a ballet. It wasn't a pre-existing story that was adapted into a ballet like say Sleeping Beauty. It was written to be performed as a ballet. And only afterwards depicted in other art forms.
 
 
Quote

 

At the end she was knee-deep in foul-smelling water, wishing she could dance upon it as Syrio might have, and wondering if she'd ever see light again. It was full dark when finally Arya emerged into the night air.
She found herself standing at the mouth of a sewer where it emptied into the river. She stank so badly that she stripped right there, dropping her soiled clothing on the riverbank as she dove into the deep black waters. She swam until she felt clean, and crawled out shivering. Some riders went past along the river road as Arya was washing her clothes, but if they saw the scrawny naked girl scrubbing her rags in the moonlight, they took no notice. (Arya III, aGoT)

 

 
Here we get the image of water dancing ON water. That is what the swan ballet dancers do... the ballet is a dance as the swans dancing ON the water.
 
We have the night connection. Odette can only take her human form at night. That is her curse. The scene also coincides with the general swan maiden motif who strip their swan wings and feathers to take the form of a beautiful maiden in order to swim. Only in Swan Lake the maidens can do it only at night. In the other swan maiden stories it's a reverse tale... the swan maiden's feathers are stolen and she can't return to swan form, but forced to remain in human form, until they discover where there feathers are hidden.
 
And then we have a sorcerer who collects "birds"
 
I
Quote

 

llyrio to Varys: "You are more than a juggler, old friend. You are a true sorcerer. All I ask is that you work your magic awhile longer." They started down the hall in the direction Arya had come, past the room with the monsters.
"What I can do, I will," the one with the torch said softly. "I must have gold, and another fifty birds." (Arya III, aGoT)
 
Arya to her father: "The fat one said the princess was with child. The one in the steel cap, he had the torch, he said that they had to hurry. I think he was a wizard."
"A wizard," said Ned, unsmiling. "Did he have a long white beard and tall pointed hat speckled with stars?"
"No! It wasn't like Old Nan's stories. He didn't look like a wizard, but the fat one said he was." (Arya III, aGoT)

 

 

Varys here is represented as Rothbard. And Ned also thinks of him as a "magician"

Quote

"Varys?" he said groggily when it came. He touched the man's face. "I'm not … not dreaming this. You're here." The eunuch's plump cheeks were covered with a dark stubble of beard. Ned felt the coarse hair with his fingers. Varys had transformed himself into a grizzled turnkey, reeking of sweat and sour wine. "How did you … what sort of magician are you?" (Eddard XV, aGoT)

And then for aGoT, we have the Horned Moon dancing on the water of the moat of the Gates of the Moon, which I always saw as an ominous sign in relation to the location there (see Sansa and the Giants prediciton). But a moat is where usually Swans swim on the water around a castle.

 
Quote

 

Even so, it was full dark before they reached the stout castle that stood at the foot of the Giant's Lance. Torches flickered atop its ramparts, and the horned moon danced upon the dark waters of its moat. The drawbridge was up and the portcullis down, but Catelyn saw lights burning in the gatehouse and spilling from the windows of the square towers beyond.
"The Gates of the Moon," her uncle said as the party drew rein.

 

 
So we have the dancing element, a moat where usually swans swim, and moon/night symbolism, which links Swan maidens with Moon maidens. And in Swan Lake it is the moonlight, or the night in which the Swans can take on their identity again. I think this suggests that it is during the Long Night that Sansa and Arya have their identities revealed to at least one important person who will attempt to save them, from the disguise situation and captivity (in a metaphorical or physical form).
 

LAKES

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Despondent, she climbed off her horse and knelt by the lake. The water lapped softly around her legs. A few lantern bugs were coming out, their little lights blinking on and off. The green water was warm as tears, but there was no salt in it. It tasted of summer and mud and growing things. Arya plunged her face down into it to wash off the dust and dirt and sweat of the day. When she leaned back the trickles ran down the back of her neck and under her collar. They felt good. She wished she could take off her clothes and swim, gliding through the warm water like an skinny pink otter. Maybe she could swim all the way to Winterfell. (Arya IV, aCoK)

They don't taste of tears (salty) but the water is warm like tears. She associates it with summer, growing. It's an image of washing off the dust and dirt from a "journey". She wants to swim, take her clothes off. And she thinks of home. Arya of course can't take her clothes of, because she's in "disguise". But it does suggest that WF beckons or might be there for her after the Winter.

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To the east, Gods Eye was a sheet of sun-hammered blue that filled half the world. Some days, as they made their slow way up the muddy shore (Gendry wanted no part of any roads, and even Hot Pie and Lommy saw the sense in that), Arya felt as though the lake were calling her. She wanted to leap into those placid blue waters, to feel clean again, to swim and splash and bask in the sun. But she dare not take off her clothes where the others could see, not even to wash them. At the end of the day she would often sit on a rock and dangle her feet in the cool water. (Arya V, aCoK)

Again we have Arya wishing she could swim and shed her disguise, by day (when Odette can't shed her wings).

Arya sees swans on the lake, 3, and she wishes she's a swan (in the Bear thread I use the follownig quote in relation to the Ugly Duckling too). Note: the swans she sees are BLACK swans.

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Thirty yards from shore, three black swans were gliding over the water, so serene . . . no one had told them that war had come, and they cared nothing for burning towns and butchered men. She stared at them with yearning. Part of her wanted to be a swan. The other part wanted to eat one. (Arya V, aCoK)

But in disguise, Arya is like Odette in disguise, already a swan. Only at night can she shed her disguise and be her true self.

Funny note on disguises princes

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Yesterday Gendry had caught a frog and shared it with Lommy

Of course HH can be regarded as one of those castles where Arya is held captive, like Odette is held captive at the lake of Rothbard's castle

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It was another long day's march before they glimpsed the towers of Harrenhal in the distance, hard beside the blue waters of the lake. (Arya VI, aCoK)

SWAN COMBO REFERENCES

First swan reference is "white swan ship" of the "Summer Isles". So, swans are linked to "summer". We see this link reappear again when Arya arrives in Braavos. Here the white swan of summer is overtaken by a "storm dancer"

Quote

A high-masted swan ship from the Summer Isles was beating out from port, its white sails huge with wind. The Storm Dancer moved past it, pulling steadily for shore. (Catelyn IV, aGoT)

There's House Swann: showing a black and white swan on the shield. Not only do we meet Balon Swann who ends up wearing the white of KG, there's also Lady Smallwood where the tree maiden song is sung of Acorn Hall, who is called Ravella Swann from birth. She is a swan lady, and she calls Arya pretty.

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"Ser Balon Swann, of Stonehelm in the Red Watch," came the herald's cry. Wide white wings ornamented Ser Balon's greathelm, and black and white swans fought on his shield. (Sansa I, aCoK)

Tyrion eats a swan.

 
Quote

 

"We still hold Sansa," he corrected her, "and we had best take good care of her. Now where is this supper you've promised me, sweet sister?"
Cersei set a tasty table, that could not be denied. They started with a creamy chestnut soup, crusty hot bread, and greens dressed with apples and pine nuts. Then came lamprey pie, honeyed ham, buttered carrots, white beans and bacon, and roast swan stuffed with mushrooms and oysters. Tyrion was exceedingly courteous; he offered his sister the choice portions of every dish, and made certain he ate only what she did. Not that he truly thought she'd poison him, but it never hurt to be careful.
[snip]
As the swan was being served, the queen questioned him about the conspiracy of the Antler Men. She seemed more annoyed than afraid. "Why are we plagued with so many treasons? What injury has House Lannister ever done these wretches?"
"None," said Tyrion, "but they think to be on the winning side . . . which makes them fools as well as traitors."
"Are you certain you've found them all?"
"Varys says so." The swan was too rich for his taste.

[snip]

Serving men cleared away the swan, hardly touched. Cersei beckoned for the sweet. "I hope you like blackberry tarts."
"I love all sorts of tarts." (Tyrion XII, aCoK)

 

 

You could say that Sansa was served to Tyrion later on a silver platter, but she was cleared away again, hardly touched, and Tyrion just loves "tarts" (slang for whores). Interestingly 'swan' is served during the Purple Wedding and here's Tyrion's response to it.

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Then came some strolling pipers and clever dogs and sword swallowers, with buttered pease, chopped nuts, and slivers of swan poached in a sauce of saffron and peaches. ("Not swan again," Tyrion muttered, remembering his supper with his sister on the eve of battle.) (Tyrion VIII, aSoS)

The serving men brought out a heron stuffed with figs, veal cutlets blanched with almond milk, creamed herring, candied onions, foul-smelling cheeses, plates of snails and sweetbreads, and a black swan in her plumage. Tyrion refused the swan, which reminded him of a supper with his sister.  (Tyrion I, aDwD)

Seems to me that Tyrion's foreswearing 'swans' for himself. He doesn't want a swan 'again'. And it does reinforce the link of Sansa as a Swan.

Well the one at the Purple Wedding certainly points to Sansa as the swan.

Here's the quote again:

Quote

Then came some strolling pipers and clever dogs and sword swallowers, with buttered pease, chopped nuts, and slivers of swan poached in a sauce of saffron and peaches. ("Not swan again," Tyrion muttered, remembering his supper with his sister on the eve of battle.) (Tyrion VIII, aSoS)

Clever dogs => Sandor

Sword swallower => Sandor held swords to Sansa's throat (several times), and a Nissa Nissa link. It also sounds like sexual slang, aka Sansa wants Sandor's "Sword"

Pease => marriage dinner scene between Tyrion and Sansa where they discuss the "pease". You couldn't have had a more boring conversationbbetween two people who obviously have nothing to talk about with each other. They have nothing in common, nothing to share, and nothing to talk about, except pease, and even then still not without frustration and it being a minefield topic. The marriage was all buttered up to Tyrion as "She's pretty, she has a claim on WF", but it's boring.

Chopped nuts => Tyrion is blueballed by Sansa, and he's made fun of by everyone because he hasn't bedded her. Again sexual slang, this time about Sansa-Tyrion. She doesn't want his nuts, but rather chop them up.

=> so, for Tyrion, NO, NOT SWAN AGAIN. The swan (Sansa) disappears shortly after, taken away by Dontos to LF's ship. That paragraph is George shipping SanSan and saying Sansa-Tyrion is "not interested" from both sides.

Quote

The serving men brought out a heron stuffed with figs, veal cutlets blanched with almond milk, creamed herring, candied onions, foul-smelling cheeses, plates of snails and sweetbreads, and a black swan in her plumage. Tyrion refused the swan, which reminded him of a supper with his sister.  (Tyrion I, aDwD)

This one is in Pentos, in Illyrio's house, after he fucked the blonde girl that Illyrio bought for him. He also thinks how he can't seem to keep wives for long. That he wants his wife back, his wife Tysha. But as it is 3rd time in a row, I think it still refers to Sansa. However, she is a "black" swan to him, because he believes she played him false, had him set up for regicide. 

SWAN CONSTELLATION

There's an interesting passage in a Jaime chapter of him watching the night sky after he fought with Rorge, and he's a captive of Hoat.

Quote

Jaime lay on his back afterward, staring at the night sky, trying not to feel the pain that snaked up his right arm every time he moved it. The night was strangely beautiful. The moon was a graceful crescent, and it seemed as though he had never seen so many stars. The King's Crown was at the zenith, and he could see the Stallion rearing, and there the Swan. The Moonmaid, shy as ever, was half-hidden behind a pine tree. How can such a night be beautiful? he asked himself. Why would the stars want to look down on such as me? (aSoS, Jaime IV)

So we have a crown for a king, a Stallion, a Swan and a Moon Maiden. It seems to me that these are possibly 2 or 3 ladies going for the crown - the Stallion would be Dany.

The swan ships of the Summer Isles are mentioned again when Arya arrives in Braavos. Ineresting is that her first comparative thought is that she'll be a "mouse" again like in HH. Braavos is thus represented as much as a type of prison to Arya as HH, or where she has to live in disguise. There's also the interesting phrasing of "a girl"... this is an anonymous identifier, like Jaquen called her, a "no one". It's odd, because Arya isn't yet at the HoBaW, and you would expect her to think in terms of "than she/Arya could count".

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The Titan's Daughter dwindled in their wake, while the city grew larger with every stroke of Yorko's oars. A harbor was visible off to her right, a tangle of piers and quays crowded with big-bellied whalers out of Ibben, swan ships from the Summer Isles, and more galleys than a girl could count. Another harbor, more distant, was off to her left, beyond a sinking point of land where the tops of half-drowned buildings thrust themselves above the water. Arya had never seen so many big buildings all together in one place. King's Landing had the Red Keep and the Great Sept of Baelor and the Dragonpit, but Braavos seemed to boast a score of temples and towers and palaces that were as large or even larger. I will be a mouse again, she thought glumly, the way I was in Harrenhal before I ran away. (Arya I, aFfC)

Then yes, Summer Islanders are again linked with swans and feathery cloaks, and Arya likes them best.

Quote

Her favorites were the Summer Islanders, with their skins as smooth and dark as teak. They wore feathered cloaks of red and green and yellow, and the tall masts and white sails of their swan ships were magnificent. (Cat of the Canals, aFfC)

BTW aside from Sam and his Swan ship of the Summer Isles, the Cinnamon Wind that takes him from Braavos to Oldtown (and Sam's said to be fond of  'dancing' by Jon in aGoT, though he's clumsy at it), there are several references for Arianne regarding swimming (the water gardens), dancing as well, but there's her exchange with Ser Balon Swann. Areo Hotah notices from the beginning that the swans of his brooch seem to be fighting (= dancing) and will not be taken down as easily as Arys Oakheart, nor as easily "seduced".

I've been thinking for over a year now that Arya will train under the Black Pearl. Arya already shows an interest in pretty much all the courtesans, watching them, so proud about the fact she sold one her cockles, finding out the Black Pearl's real name, the Black Pearl being featured in the Mercy chapter and Raff talking gross about her. She is certainly fascinated by them, and I always linked them to 'swans' to Arya's 'ugly duckling' self image , with the boats on the canals like the 3 swans on the Gods Eye lake. It was enough to have that "I got a hunch feeling".

But the Summer Isles, feathery cloaks, swan boats, the Black Pearl having Summer Isle roots, Sam's sexuality on a Summer Isle Swan ship, Arya's ballet water dancing of Braavos => all these elements together make that more than a hunch. I think we have uncovered the symbolical textual links for Arya to be taken "under her swan wing" and probably the person to help her return to Westeros at some point, and on what type of ship she returns (a swan ship). I think we can now say with perhaps +90% certainty that Arya will apprentice somehow with the Black Pearl, and that this will not only affect her womanhood but her desire to return to Westeros. 

And since I've been writing fic with the Tempest in mind (the concept of sea-change), I also have come to see how sea voyages have become a means of a sexual sea-change in sexual mature characters in George's writing:

  • while Jorah's bear kiss re-awakens Dany's sexuality after being a widow for a certain time, Dany takes Irri as her bedwarmer lover and masturbates. This happens at "sea" => sea-change
  • Sam has his first sexual experience with Gilly. This happens at "sea" => sea-change
 
Quote

 

Ser Balon Swann was taut as a drawn bow, the captain of guards observed. This new white knight was not so tall nor comely as the old one, but he was bigger across the chest, burlier, his arms thick with muscle. His snowy cloak was clasped at the throat by two swans on a silver brooch. One was ivory, the other onyx, and it seemed to Areo Hotah as if the two of them were fighting. The man who wore them looked a fighter too. This one will not die so easy as the other. He will not charge into my axe the way Ser Arys did. He will stand behind his shield and make me come at him. If it came to that, Hotah would be ready. His longaxe was sharp enough to shave with.
[snip]
Arianne touched the pin that clasped [Balon's] cloak, with its quarreling swans. "I have always been fond of swans. No other bird is half so beautiful, this side of the Summer Isles."
"Your peacocks might dispute that," said Ser Balon.
"They might," said Arianne, "but peacocks are vain, proud creatures, strutting about in all those gaudy colors. Give me a swan serene in white or beautiful in black."
Ser Balon gave a nod and sipped his wine. This one is not so easily seduced as was his Sworn Brother, Hotah thought. Ser Arys was a boy, despite his years. This one is a man, and wary.   (The Watcher, aDwD)

 

 
It suggests that swans don't die easily, nor are they seduced easily, whether black or white.

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^ Nice! Gonna go over that. I love all your analysis!

Also Jaqen's fighting style is familiar:

Jaqen danced away from his slash, drew his own sword, drove the man back into a corner with a flurry of blows, and killed him with a thrust to the heart. - Arya, ACoK

--

Syrio said:

Now we will begin the dance. Remember, child, this is not the iron dance of Westeros we are learning, the knight’s dance, hacking and hammering, no. This is the bravo’s dance, the water dance, swift and sudden. - Arya, AGoT

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@sweetsunray @DutchArya

Another prominent water dance is non other then our favorite sellsword, Bronn.

Syrio “The steel must be part of your arm,” the bald man told her. “Can you drop part of your arm?"

Catelyn "He moved like a panther, and that ugly sword of his seemed a part of his arm"

Animal comparison are also great hint as Arya uses them all the time (Syrio used it) "Strong as a bear. Fierce as a wolverine." Not to mention omnipresent "quick as a cat"

"Bronn slid around him, quick as a cat"

"Arya saw the blow coming even before it began. She danced back out of the way, untouched."

"Bronn danced farther to his left"

"Bronn slammed it aside and danced away."

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3 hours ago, Equilibrium said:

@sweetsunray @DutchArya

Another prominent water dance is non other then our favorite sellsword, Bronn.

Syrio “The steel must be part of your arm,” the bald man told her. “Can you drop part of your arm?"

Catelyn "He moved like a panther, and that ugly sword of his seemed a part of his arm"

Animal comparison are also great hint as Arya uses them all the time (Syrio used it) "Strong as a bear. Fierce as a wolverine." Not to mention omnipresent "quick as a cat"

"Bronn slid around him, quick as a cat"

"Arya saw the blow coming even before it began. She danced back out of the way, untouched."

"Bronn danced farther to his left"

"Bronn slammed it aside and danced away."

Well all fighting is called "dancing". There's the "iron dance" - the sword dance. Syrio may not find it graceful, but that too can be graceful. Bronn is a graceful "iron dancer". Notice though that Catelyn refers to Bronn's sword as "ugly sword". When Jaime and Brienne fight, or Jon George uses phrases such as "dance away" too. The water dance though is specifically tied to the Braavos dueling with a Braavos' weapon. A "modern dancer" can be a graceful dancer, but it's a different dancing style from "ballet". Water dancing aims to poke holes, while the iron dance aims to slash and cut.

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13 hours ago, sweetsunray said:

~snip~

 

Very nice Equilibrium! :D

Speaking of the Black Pearl any relevance to your theory with her connection to “dragons”?

Quote

 

“I sold three cockles to a courtesan,” Cat told the sailors. “She called to me as she was stepping off her barge.” Brusco had made it plain to her that she was never to speak to a courtesan unless she was spoken to first, but the woman had smiled at her and paid her in silver, ten times what the cockles had been worth.

“Which one was this, now? The Queen o’ Cockles, was it?”

“The Black Pearl,” she told them. Merry claimed the Black Pearl was the most famous courtesan of all. “She’s descended from the dragons, that one,” the woman had told Cat.

 

And Arya would return to the HoBW with the things she saw snd heard. This was interesting:

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Sometimes she brought back sailor’s tales, of strange and wondrous happenings from the wide wet world beyond the isles of Braavos, wars and rains of toads and dragons hatching.

 

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“The first Black Pearl was black as a pot of ink,” said Daena. “She was a pirate queen, fathered by a Sealord’s son on a princess from the Summer Isles. A dragon king from Westeros took her for his lover.”

“I would like to see a dragon,” Mercy said wistfully.

 

 

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2 hours ago, sweetsunray said:

Well all fighting is called "dancing". There's the "iron dance" - the sword dance. Syrio may not find it graceful, but that too can be graceful. Bronn is a graceful "iron dancer". Notice though that Catelyn refers to Bronn's sword as "ugly sword". When Jaime and Brienne fight, or Jon George uses phrases such as "dance away" too. The water dance though is specifically tied to the Braavos dueling with a Braavos' weapon. A "modern dancer" can be a graceful dancer, but it's a different dancing style from "ballet". Water dancing aims to poke holes, while the iron dance aims to slash and cut.

Maybe you are right, I think there is a lot of identical language used for it to mean nothing. Bronn could have been to Braavos or other Free Cities, and there are some theories that lend further credence to such claim.

He may have adapted the style to circumstances, you can't poke holes in plate armor. 

Rapiers evolved from cut-and-thrust swords, and even rapier fighting involved occasional slashing, that is the reason rapier has blade,it ain't like epee used in modern fencing. 

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34 minutes ago, Equilibrium said:

Maybe you are right, I think there is a lot of identical language used for it to mean nothing. Bronn could have been to Braavos or other Free Cities, and there are some theories that lend further credence to such claim.

He may have adapted the style to circumstances, you can't poke holes in plate armor. 

Rapiers evolved from cut-and-thrust swords, and even rapier fighting involved occasional slashing, that is the reason rapier has blade,it ain't like epee used in modern fencing. 

There certainly is a cat association, and in that sense like Arya he seems to have "nine lives".

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On 21/8/2016 at 0:20 AM, Equilibrium said:

@sweetsunray I actually read the Valkyrie of FM some time ago, I thought it was very good, can't say I recall particular stuff about swans. Now have you thought about symbolism of black swans specifically, as unexpected and unpredictable event. Swans are black and white and so is the House of Black and White and FM are pretty unpredictable bunch. Granted I am talking of top of my head and I will definitely have to read the whole thing again when I muster some time.

I will definitely dream of bears tonight.

 

 

 

23 hours ago, DutchArya said:

The Black Swan stuff is so fascinating. The fact that there were 3 Swans is just 0_0

Arya felt as though the lake were calling her. She wanted to leap into those placid blue waters, to feel clean again, to swim and splash and bask in the sun. But she dare not take off her clothes where the others could see, not even to wash them. At the end of the day she would often sit on a rock and dangle her feet in the cool water. She had finally thrown away her cracked and rotted shoes. Walking barefoot was hard at first, but the blisters had finally broken, the cuts had healed, and her soles had turned to leather. The mud was nice between her toes, and she liked to feel the earth underfoot when she walked.

From up here, she could see a small wooded island off to the northeast. Thirty yards from shore, three black swans were gliding over the water, so serene . . . no one had told them that war had come, and they cared nothing for burning towns and butchered men. She stared at them with yearning. Part of her wanted to be a swan the other part wanted to eat one. -  (Arya, A Clash of Kings)

grrm literally writes "Arya felt as though the lake was calling her - ". 

She ends up at Acorn Hall and meets Lady Smallwood (of House Swann) their sigil is a black & white swan facing each other. 

Arya is literally the odd one out among Ned's children, born with the traditional dark Stark colouring unlike all her siblings who followed the Tully side. 

 

Arya_Nym collected some interesting quotes:

 

So interesting your examples about Black and White and the colour of the swans!!!!.....

Is there a coincidence that Black and White appears so many times in Arya's? Anything related to her journey? /personality/what she is experiencing maybe?

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1 minute ago, Meera of Tarth said:

Is there a coincidence that Black and White appears so many times in Arya's?

Not with the Swan Lake ballet references:

In Swan Lake a princess is a captive of a magician called Rothbard, and he has her under a spell where she's disguised as a swan (a white one). Only at night can she change into a human being again for a few hours. A prince witnesses this transformation and falls in love. She tells him he can release her from her spell if he chooses her for his bride and true love at a ball. Buth Rothbard finds out what's been going on, and he sends a lookalike (her dark twin) to the ball - the black swan. The prince only goes by the exterior similarity and proclaims his love to the black swan (false) princess in public, and thereby dooms the white swan to remain forever cursed. When he realizes his mistake he goes to her and they commit suicide (swan song). In the movie Black Swan they make the Black-White swan an inner struggle for the ballet lead actress. And this is what imo the black-white refers to in Arya's arc... the choosing of a path: does she become a black swan or a white swan.  

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3 hours ago, Meera of Tarth said:

 

So interesting your examples about Black and White and the colour of the swans!!!!.....

Is there a coincidence that Black and White appears so many times in Arya's? Anything related to her journey? /personality/what she is experiencing maybe?

It must be intentional because grrm's are purposeful and deliberate.

Even while blind Arya continues to get this contrast:

 

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She found her smallclothes in a pile, sniffed at them to make sure they were fresh enough to wear, donned them in her darkness. Her servant's garbwas where she'd hung it - a long tunic of undyed wool, roughspun and scratchy. She snapped it out and pulled it down over her head with one smooth practiced motion. Socks came last. One black, one white. The black one had stitching round the top, the white none; she could feel which was which, make sure she got each sock on the right leg. Skinny as they were, her legs were strong and springy and growing longer every day. She was glad of that. A water dancer needs good legs. Blind Beth was no water dancer, but she would not be Beth forever. 

More water references:

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"And who are you this morning?" she heard him ask, as he took his seat at the head of the table. Tap, tap, she heard, then a tiny crackling sound. Breaking his first egg.

[...]

Her face was still water, hiding all, revealing nothing.

"As you will." She could hear him peeling the egg, then a faint silvery clink as he picked up the salt spoon. He liked his eggs well salted.

 

^ The Kindly Man cracks, peels, and eats his egg while Arya fills him in on the gossip in Braavos, mentioning a mermaid had drowned, among other things:

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"The Merling Queen has chosen a new Mermaid to take the place of the one that drowned. She is the daughter of a Prestayn serving maid, thirteen and penniless, but lovely."

"So are they all, at the beginning," said the priest, "but you cannot know that she is lovely unless you have seen her with your own eyes, and you have none. Who are you, child?"

"No one."

"Blind Beth the beggar girl is who I see. She is a wretchedliar, that one. 

 

Arya assumes she is lovely, the Kindly Man pointing out that she cannot know for sure as she is blind. Arya's fondness for the courtesans is highlighted again. 

 

She had seen the Merling Queen before:

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Merling Queen was never seen without her Mermaids, four young maidens in the blush of their first flowering who held her train and did her hair. 

 

And with the Veiled Lady:

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Even the Veiled Lady was beautiful, though only those she took as lovers ever saw her face.

She sees her when she is Cat of the Canals, but I wonder... if she can't see the Lady’s face, what is Arya seeing that is "beautiful"? I assume it must be the way the Lady carries herself and what she is wearing that Arya is appreciating.

 

Quote

“Mercy, Mercy, Mercy,” she sang as she descended the wooden stair to the street. The handrail was splintery, the steps steep, and there were five flights, but that was why she’d gotten the room so cheap. That, and Mercy’s smile. She might be bald and skinny, but Mercy had a pretty smile, and a certain grace. Even Izembaro agreed that she was graceful. She was not far from the Gate as the crows flies, but for girls with feet instead of wings the way was longer.

The last line.... grrm is sneaky! Feet instead of wings

sweetsunray that's another nod to swan lake!

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1 hour ago, DutchArya said:

sweetsunray that another nod to swan lake!

Very nice find yes. Well to swan maiden in general.

And yes, I agree that Arya betrays a favoritism for courtesans. She thinks them beautiful or lovely without much question. She doesn't need to see their faces. The Veiled Lady might have a moustache underneath that veil for all she knows.

And Arya wants to be a swan! Not a duck. She can say and think "I don't care whether I look ugly or pretty", but in fact she does. She's lying to herself, understandably so though.

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11 minutes ago, sweetsunray said:

Very nice find yes. Well to swan maiden in general.

And yes, I agree that Arya betrays a favoritism for courtesans. She thinks them beautiful or lovely without much question. She doesn't need to see their faces. The Veiled Lady might have a moustache underneath that veil for all she knows.

And Arya wants to be a swan! Not a duck. She can say and think "I don't care whether I look ugly or pretty", but in fact she does. She's lying to herself, understandably so though.

It's an interesting contrast to her mentality while in Westeros. The same appreciation for feminine things were always of no interest to her. It's likely this change is mostly due to her nearing maidenhood? 

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3 minutes ago, DutchArya said:

It's an interesting contrast to her mentality while in Westeros. The same appreciation for feminine things were always of no interest to her. It's likely this change is mostly due to her nearing maidenhood? 

Probably nearing her maidenhood, and now having had several people tell her she's pretty (Ravella Swann, kindly man, Izembaro, the sailors and Braavosi people when she's Cat of the Canals and has her own face), and the courtesans are different from girls at court. Also, notice that after Acorn Hall at the Peach she is actually less perturbed by the girls there giving her a bath, putting perfume on her, and dressing her in clothes that imo have more frill than the acorn dress. 

The acorn dress that she ruins was actually one of the most comfortable and least princess-like dress that she starts to wear after KL. The purple dress with pearls Ravella puts her in is far more girly princess like than the acorn dress (and originally Arya calls it worse), but Ravella also called her pretty by then and she behaves. At the Peach she's not bothered at all by the frill (imo poochy) dress they stuff her in.

Initially we have this image where Arya sees Jeyne Poole & Sansa whisper, gossip and giggle and Beth looking up at those two, with Sansa being perfect ladlylike (and Arya's first chapter reveals she think it's not fair) that she cannot ever hope to mimic, and Jeyne calling her horseface. So, Arya is all "Pffff, I don't give a shit. I don't even want to be like that." (and of course she doesn't, nor does she need to). It's rejecting those who reject you type of thing. Like a see-saw. So, she goes completely the opposite way, simply to establish for herself that she's still a girl and of worth, no matter what she looks like or what she wears. Once she's done that for herself and has some positive feedback, she automatically comes more open minded to exploring for herself what type of femininity she actually aspires to. So, she looks around herself and watches the women that pique her interest. It's not just hormonal imo. It's a psychological process.

I kindof recognize it. I was a tomboy and not girly. I hated skirts as a child. Oh, and I had short hair ('cause my dad wanted me to have short hair... it's his ideal look for women). And I was constantly confused with being a boy as a child at elementary age. Worse, my first name was an unknown female name in my region, and everybody mispronunced it and thought it was a boy's name. Good thing I wasn't bothered with anyone giving me cars and such for presents at birthday parties, 'cause I liked playing with cars anyway. Meanwhile the girly-girl peers also let me know very clearly that I'd never be attractive or pretty in the eyes of boys (and yup that banged up my self-image at the time, which turned out to be bs of course). Around 14 I finally decide to let my hair grow (aside from Sinead short a decade later for a year, I've had long hair ever since). While I began to like dresses and skirts, I was not confindent in it yet (kindof felt uncomfortablze with being gazed at). So, I didn't actually start wearing it regularly until I had the Sinead short hair-cut. Here's the mistake my mom made - because I didn't like sweet-princess girly-girly, my mom bought me skirts like scottish tartan stuff. My mom thought they were a compromize. I hated the compromize more than anything else though. It just felt like "ok, so I'm wearing a skirt, but it's not even a pretty one, so am still tomboy". If I was going to wear a skirt I actually wanted one of those red skirts that were more inspired on Spanish dresses. I didn't want nice-parish girl. I wanted bold feminine. That's what I started doing around 23-24: either boldly feminine or jeans-feminine top/t-shirt-leather jacket, but no compromize. 

Well, and that acorn dress reads like a "compromize" dress imo for Arya. I actually think Arya considers it a bit of a childish dress (with the acorns).

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