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sweetsunray

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

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5 hours ago, Tijgy said:

And I do not think you referred to him yet, but I might have found someone who might wanting to take revenge like the chained bear during the RW - although he is associated mostly with giants. 

"The Greatjon had drunk another Lord of Walder's brood under the table, Petyr Pimple this time. The lad has a third his capacity, what did he expect? Lord Umber wiped his mouth, stood, and began to sing. "a bear there was, a bear, a BEAR! All black and brown and covered with hair."

 

I failed at. He’d cozened the huge northman into drinking enough wine to kill any three normal men, yet after Roslin had been bedded the Greatjon still managed to snatch the sword of the first man to accost him and break his arm in the snatching. It had taken eight of them to get him into chains, and the effort had left two men wounded, one dead, and poor old Ser Leslyn Haigh short half a ear. When he couldn’t fight with his hands any longer, Umber had fought with his teeth.

:agree:

And what about Harrion Karstark? The Karstarks come wearing pelts of seal, bear and wolf in Bran's chapters (courtesy PainkillerJane for that find). We have Rickard Karstark killing "2 boys" in revenge (like Wayland) and then Harrion is sent by Roose to attack Duskendale with Glover, captured and kept a prisoner in Maidenpool. His family in the North wanted to provoke the crown in killing him. I really don't think Harrion will be a happy camper when he makes his way back North. Some of those Karstarks will become wolf and grizzly food imo (seals).

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36 minutes ago, sweetsunray said:

Thank you, and it's nowhere near finished. I''m going through the earlier ideas again and there were loose ends what I was not yet sure what it was about. Craster's Keep and the Fist belong together and well, I'm starting to get a fuller picture now.

The recent realization in relation to Harrenhal that Jaime is a bear-character and actually his journey with Brienne from RR ro HH is very much a parallel to Arya-Gendry, and that Gregor is a revenge bear helped with what's going on with that giant snow bear at the Fist.

I also noted there are more bears in the NW. I'll leave the quotes to prove it for the essay I'm writing out, but basically Bedwyck (Giant), Brown Bernarr, Black Bernarr, Aemon, Samwell, Clubfoot Karl, Chett, Softfoot, Small Paul, and Bowen Marsh are all bear characters, and Ollo Lophand probably too, and maybe Bannen. I suspect Stonesnake may be a bear too, because he talks about the mountain being like a mother and suck her teats.

Anyway you can see there are quite a number of bears, and you could divide them in loyal good protective bears (with loyal friends like tree Dywen and Edd, bat Pyp and aurochs Grenn) and then corrupted (wighted, undead, revenge) bears.

Then you have the sables: fierce, and brave knights but stupid, like Royce, Jaremy and Thoren. And once in a while you have a shadowcat like Dirk.

Anyway, there are quite a lot of bears at the Wall in the NW. But here's the folklore issue with bears. They seek a den in the "fall" to hide from "winter" and "sleep", or they are hunted down and become meat. And we see all our main bear-characters die or disappear or go in hiding in the fall: Sansa at the Vale, Sandor at QI, Jaime & Brienne at the BwB, Samwell's at Oldtown, Gendry's with the BwB not knowing who he is, etc, etc

While the link between Giant and bear is hinted at since aGoT, it is very much pronounced in the prologue of aSoS with the wighted snow bear. First they shout a giant, then a bear. And Sam writes in his notes "being attacked by a giant or a bear". The giants look bear-like. And Tormund has his tale about hiding in a giant's abdomen for a winter and killing her after, though he admits to Jon he sucked her teats, and then emerged when it was spring again. Tormund is a bear character and is metaphorically describing his birth, and his mother probably died not long after his birth. And sure polar bears may not actually den in winter, but Tormund's two stories both involve wintersleep metaphors. 

Anyway Giants = Bears = Mountains.

But as was noted before: what the hell happens if all those bears go den in winter? They're supposed to protect the forest/realm (which is why we have so many bear characters in the NW).

And then we read the NW vows and what is said about the Horn of Joramun:

  • We are the "horn that wakes the sleepers"
  • The Horn of Joramun wakes the giants from the earth.

Who are the sleepers? Bears are. Who are giants from the earth? Bears are.

When that horn blows not only will we see natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis and avalanches (mountains waking up), but all the bears will be woken from their den and re-emerge from their hiding place.

:commie::cheers::thumbsup:

Oh I like that!

And Sam is also a bear??!!:wub:

Oh, that's becoming more and more interesting. Have you already explained Sam or did I miss something?

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47 minutes ago, Meera of Tarth said:

Oh I like that!

And Sam is also a bear??!!:wub:

Oh, that's becoming more and more interesting. Have you already explained Sam or did I miss something?

I'm writing that essay for the moment, but I will give a sneak-peek:

The most evident bear character is of course Jeor Mormont, the Old Bear. The Mormont sigil is a black bear in a green wood (for more on the Mormonts see Bear Ancestry). He was the Lord of Bear Island, Bear Island's king over bears so to speak, and made way for his son, renouncing title and land by joining the honorable role to protect the realm of the enemy North of the Wall with the Night's Watch and became Lord Commander. He had the ancestral Valyrian sword Longclaw in his posession, which used to have a silver bear figure for a pommel, before he gave it to Jon Snow.

Key words that regularly appear for speech with Jeor are gruff, grunt and growl, grumble and rumble, and once in a while a roar.Below are but a select few picks regarding Jeor Mormont, to illustrate his bearness. Of note here are the words "shaggy", which is the meaning of the PIE root word that the Baltic languages used for their word to identify a bear, 'lacis'. And also important is the concept of a bear being strong.

Quote

 

Jeor Mormont, Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, was a gruff old man with an immense bald head and a shaggy grey beard. (aGoT, Jon III)

Mormont picked up a crab claw and cracked it in his fist. Old as he was, the Lord Commander still had the strength of a bear.(aGoT, Tyrion III)

Lord Commander Mormont resplendent in a black wool doublet with silvered bearclaw fastenings. (aGoT, Jon VI)

The hair that had retreated from Mormont's spotted scalp had regrouped beneath his chin in a shaggy grey beard that covered much of his chest. He thumped it hard. "Do I look frail?"
Sam opened his mouth, gave a little squeak. The Old Bear terrified him. "No, my lord," Jon offered quickly. "You look strong as a . . . a . . ."
...[snip]...Mormont pawed through them brusquely, giving each no more than a glance and a grunt
(aCoK, Jon I)

[Mormont] had grown more restive every day they waited; much longer and he would have been fit to whelp cubs.(aCoK, Jon V)

 

 

As we know when a bear dies and all is at rest his spirit returns to the heavens in the shape of a bird. George uses this for example in relation to Gregor by having him called back to King's Landing from Harrenhal by a bird, at which point he simply kills Vargo without further torture. And in aCoK, we see the bird connected to the concept of a bear several times:

Quote

 

"I'll have his best. Smart birds, and strong."
"Strong," [Mormont's] own bird said, preening. "Strong, strong." (aCoK, Jon I)

Jon: "No doubt. You'd best get a bird ready. Mormont will want to send back word."
Sam: "I wish I could send them all. They hate being caged." (aCoK, Jon IV)

 

 

The concept of the "strong bear" therefore suggest for example that Gregor Clegane is still a bear character as Robert Strong, albeit likely a poisoned or corrupted bear.

Of course Jeor Mormont and his pet raven are the easiest example as the bear with his bird spirit.

Quote

 

He had a raven on his arm, and he was feeding it kernels of corn.(aGoT, Jon III)

Jon heard the ravens before he saw them. Some were calling his name. The birds were not shy when it came to making noise.
They feel it too. "I'd best see to the Old Bear," he said. "He gets noisy when he isn't fed as well."(aCoK, Jon IV)

Wherever the raven went, Mormont soon followed. (aSoS, Samwell II)

 

 

The last quote above comes from the chapter where Jeor dies, and surprisingly fits the concept of the bear-spirit as a bird. Realistically, Mormont goes where he chooses and wishes to go, and his pet raven would be the one following him. But Sam makes the opposite observation. The bear-character follows the bird, whether it is the bird's song, call, order, or physical form.

Another bear character is Bedwyck. He goes by the nickname Giant, despite the fact that he is only give foot tall. If Tyrion is a small bear character, a giant come amongst the Night's Watch, a giant of a Lannister as well as huddled in bear furs, then Bedwyck is also a small bear character. And it is not just his nickname alone.

Quote

Jon heard a rustling from the red leaves above. Two branches parted, and he glimpsed a little man moving from limb to limb as easily as a squirrel. Bedwyck stood no more than five feet tall, but the grey streaks in his hair showed his age. The other rangers called him Giant. He sat in a fork of the tree over their heads ... (aCoK, Jon II)

 

Giant climbs trees. Yes, Jon compares him to a squirrel, but small bears climb trees too, and are as good at it as a squirrel. The true give away though is how Giant makes a nest for the night in the hollow of a dead oak at Craster's Keep. Squirrels make their nest in a living tree, not a dead one. But black bears very much use hollows in trees for the night.

Quote

Giant had crammed himself inside the hollow of a dead oak. "How d'ye like my castle, Lord Snow?"(aCoK, Jon III)

 

His true name Bedwyck reminds us of Urswyck, or at least they share the latter half of the name -wyck.

Quote

"I don't recall as we did." Giant was no more than five feet tall—his true name was Bedwyck—but a fierce little man for all that. "Slayer, did you ask Craster for his counsel?" (aSoS, Samwell II)

 

And there is Brown Bernarr. The PIE root word *bher or *ber used in the Germanic languages to identify a bear means brown. In fact we see that exact PIE root word appear in Bernarr. Meanwhile the PIE *ner or *nar  means man. Hence, Brown Bernarr means brown bear-man. And certainly Dolorous Edd makes a comparative remark between a bear and Brown Bernarr.

Quote

"I'd not call it sleeping. The ground was hard, the rushes ill-smelling, and my brothers snore frightfully. Speak of bears if you will, none ever growled so fierce as Brown Bernarr."(aCoK, Jon III)

 

If Brown Bernarr is a bear-character, then so is Black Bernarr who shares the same name, except that he is basically said to be a black bear-man.

Quote

There were rocks beneath the snow, and the roots of trees, and sometimes deep holes in the frozen ground. Black Bernarr had stepped in one and broken his ankle three days past, or maybe four, or . . . he did not know how long it had been, truly. The Lord Commander had put Bernarr on a horse after that.(aSoS, Samwell I)

 

And then there is Samwell. The earliest hint for that goes back to aGoT.

Quote

He looked up. Samwell Tarly stood rocking nervously on his heels. His cheeks were red, and he was wrapped in a heavy fur cloak that made him look ready for hibernation. (aGoT, Jon VIII)

 

It is never specified what type of fur Sam's cloak is, but hibernation is already an allusion to it. Giant mentions Samwell in relation to finding himself a tree to sleep in as well.

Quote

Giant smiled. "Unless Sam's found him a tree too. What a tree that would be." It was Ghost who found Sam in the end. The direwolf shot ahead like a quarrel from a crossbow. (aCoK, Jon III)

 

Notice the metaphor of Ghost shooting like a quarrel from a crossbow when Jon and Ghost find Sam who they have been looking for! This is how after all a located bear ought to be ritually captured, if only symbolically.

Then there is his connection to the ravens. No, he does not have a pet raven, but he does take care of them and is the person who sends the messages at the Great Ranging. And he connects himself spiritually to a raven when he says he wishes the raven he sends back home for the Wall could carry him along.

Quote

Sam took a bird from one of the cages, stroked its feathers, attached the message, and said, "Fly home now, brave one. Home." The raven quorked something unintelligible back at him, and Sam tossed it into the air. Flapping, it beat its way skyward through the trees. "I wish he could carry me with him."(aCoK, Jon II)

 

And yes, Aemon Targaryen is also a bear character in that sense. We are actually told Aemon is huddled in a bearskin, and this is mentioned both in Sam's POV as well as Jon's.

Quote

 

When the maester appeared, he was bundled up in a bearskin three times his size. (aFfC, Samwell I)

Maester Aemon was seated in the back of it, huddled in a bearskin that made him look as small as a child. (aDwD, Jon II)

 

 

The rest are gazillion of quotes, but not yet in any order or with accompanying text. But a shadowcat kills the ram (Dirk-Craster) and see Jon's thoughts when he climbs the mountain to catch the wildling watchers unawares, and uses a dirk on Ygritte. And then Lophand mortally wounds the bear. Jeor gets to give his last wish and tell him to go, but most especially Raven orders him to go, and then the wives come with Gilly and tell him that Jeor's dead and that he should take Jeor's cloak and run with Gilly whom he had already cloaked in the previous chapter. And thus we have a bear-wedding the moment a bear dies and the bird spirit tells him to go.

His nickname is Slayer, which means "destroyer" and thus "bear" (Kingslayer for Jaime is the same thing). There are "honey" quotes too. And he hates shooting arrows (Jaime hates bowmen). Sure they do - it's the weapon used to ritually kill bears. Heartsbane for sure will come into play through Sam & Gilly (and the Gillyflower has relevant meaning too).

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1 hour ago, sweetsunray said:

...

Anyway you can see there are quite a number of bears, and you could divide them in loyal good protective bears (with loyal friends like tree Dywen and Edd, bat Pyp and aurochs Grenn) and then corrupted (wighted, undead, revenge) bears.

...

Anyway, there are quite a lot of bears at the Wall in the NW. But here's the folklore issue with bears. They seek a den in the "fall" to hide from "winter" and "sleep", or they are hunted down and become meat. And we see all our main bear-characters die or disappear or go in hiding in the fall: Sansa at the Vale, Sandor at QI, Jaime & Brienne at the BwB, Samwell's at Oldtown, Gendry's with the BwB not knowing who he is, etc, etc

While the link between Giant and bear is hinted at since aGoT, it is very much pronounced in the prologue of aSoS with the wighted snow bear. First they shout a giant, then a bear. And Sam writes in his notes "being attacked by a giant or a bear". The giants look bear-like. And Tormund has his tale about hiding in a giant's abdomen for a winter and killing her after, though he admits to Jon he sucked her teats, and then emerged when it was spring again. Tormund is a bear character and is metaphorically describing his birth, and his mother probably died not long after his birth. And sure polar bears may not actually den in winter, but Tormund's two stories both involve wintersleep metaphors. 

Anyway Giants = Bears = Mountains.

But as was noted before: what the hell happens if all those bears go den in winter? They're supposed to protect the forest/realm (which is why we have so many bear characters in the NW).

And then we read the NW vows and what is said about the Horn of Joramun:

  • We are the "horn that wakes the sleepers"
  • The Horn of Joramun wakes the giants from the earth.

Who are the sleepers? Bears are. Who are giants from the earth? Bears are.

When that horn blows not only will we see natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis and avalanches (mountains waking up), but all the bears will be woken from their den and re-emerge from their hiding place.

You know I love my snow bears :wub:

I have been doing my own research on a slightly different, but related topic the past few weeks. Jon has many, many attributes that link him to Odin (a few to Bloodraven as well, but that is not for here and now). I also found a bear connection that I think fits with what you are explaining about the Nights Watch guys. Here is a little of what I found and it sounds to me that maybe these remaining NW loyal bear men will come out of hibernation and find their identity as snowbears, ready to defend their leader. So in this case, wearing a pelt could mean into battle could be symbolism for following Jon under his banner into battle (or something):

  • Berserkers (or berserks) were champion Norse warriors who are primarily reported in the Old Norse literature to have fought in a nearly uncontrollable, trance-like fury, a characteristic which later gave rise to the English word berserk. These Viking champions would often go into battle without mail-coats; the word "berserk" meant going into battle wearing only wolf, bear or animal skins.[1] Berserkers are attested to in numerous Old Norse sources.

  • the berserker is this expression most likely arose from their reputed habit of wearing a kind of shirt or coat made from the pelt of a bear (ber-) during battle. The bear was one of the animals representing Odin, and by wearing such a pelt the warriors sought to gain the strength of a bear and the favor of Odin.  There are two people that wear a bear pelt to gain Jon's favor, but we will talk about Mance here.

    A Storm of Swords - Jon I

    There was no doubting which tent was the king's. It was thrice the size of the next largest he'd seen, and he could hear music drifting from within. Like many of the lesser tents it was made of sewn hides with the fur still on, but Mance Rayder's hides were the shaggy white pelts of snow bears. The peaked roof was crowned with a huge set of antlers from one of the giant elks that had once roamed freely throughout the Seven Kingdoms, in the times of the First Men.
    • NOTE: this happens when Jon wakes from his wold/weirwood dream where the tree-Bran touches him on the forehead, possibly awakening Jon's third eye, and then the first  thing Jon sees is his destiny... the wildlings.
  • A Storm of Swords - Jon II

    "Yes, but . . . Tormund, I swear, I've never touched her."
    "Are you certain they never cut your member off?" Tormund gave a shrug, as if to say he would never understand such madness. "Well, you are a free man now, but if you will not have the girl, best find yourself a she-bear. If a man does not use his member it grows smaller and smaller, until one day he wants to piss and cannot find it."
    • Tormund is "Father to Bears" so I would trust what he has to say.

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Yes, @bemused has an essay as Jon being a berserker, and while it became associated with wolves at some point, its origin is with bears and indeed are Odin's "avengers".

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7 hours ago, sweetsunray said:

I also noted there are more bears in the NW. I'll leave the quotes to prove it for the essay I'm writing out, but basically Bedwyck (Giant), Brown Bernarr, Black Bernarr, Aemon, Samwell, Clubfoot Karl, Chett, Softfoot, Small Paul, and Bowen Marsh are all bear characters, and Ollo Lophand probably too, and maybe Bannen. I suspect Stonesnake may be a bear too, because he talks about the mountain being like a mother and suck her teats.

 

I like the Wall is being protected by a whole bunch of bears :D 

@sweetsunray I am not really sure how you intend to plan your thread in the future (if you intend to write your posts on your blog, in this thread), ... but, when I wanted to use your links in your first post to go to specific essays, I just went to the main page of the General (ASOIAF) Subforum and not to the specific post.

So if you have ever the time, it might be interesting to fix the links? It might be handy for future readers or people who want to reread a specific part of the thread. ;) I forgot to mention this in my first reply. 

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10 hours ago, sweetsunray said:

I'm writing that essay for the moment, but I will give a sneak-peek:

<snip>

oh, thank you!

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7 hours ago, Tijgy said:

I like the Wall is being protected by a whole bunch of bears :D 

@sweetsunray I am not really sure how you intend to plan your thread in the future (if you intend to write your posts on your blog, in this thread), ... but, when I wanted to use your links in your first post to go to specific essays, I just went to the main page of the General (ASOIAF) Subforum and not to the specific post.

So if you have ever the time, it might be interesting to fix the links? It might be handy for future readers or people who want to reread a specific part of the thread. ;) I forgot to mention this in my first reply. 

That's because the link was made in the previous forum format, so it refers now to a link that's incorrect and redirects to the general forum yes. I do try to update the older essays with the reworked ones yes.

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@sweetsunray i stayed up late reading all of this and really thinking about it. I have only one thing to say. Well done! This is some legit exegesis here. Color me impressed AF

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On 21/08/2016 at 0:53 AM, DutchArya said:

 

 

On 21/08/2016 at 1:10 AM, sweetsunray said:

 

One problem I can see with the Black Swan Theory idea is that Taleb first wrote about it in 2001 and only gained popular traction with the 2008 financial crisis. However, black swans have long been used to describe the realisation of things once thought to be impossible - since the once thought mythical birds were shown to exist. So I think there still is a deeper meaning to the swans in Arya's arc: that events will unravel in a direction not anticipated by many readers, but it is unlikely that three instances of Taleb's theory will be realised.

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I recently discovered something with regard to bears.  Actually, one bear: Ursa Major.  The Big Dipper (so called in the US) is part of the astrological sign Ursa Major.  Two alternate names (in other cultures) for the Big Dipper are The Wain and the Ploughman.  A wain (old word for a wheel, especially a wagon wheel apparently) is presented in the sigil of House Waynwood.  And a ploughman, of House Darry.  So, we have Waynwood and Darry associated with bears, albeit in a somewhat indirect way.  I'm not sure what this could entail, although Lady was "executed" in House Darry's godswood.  

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So, we have Waynwood and Darry associated with bears, albeit in a somewhat indirect way.  I'm not sure what this could entail, although Lady was "executed" in House Darry's godswood.

Perhaps another way to connect Sansa to her bear-part : when Lady is sacrified, the she wolf is very docile and obedient, as if she was representing the princess/queen part. That would mean that Ned Stark didn't sacrified the wolf-part of Sansa, but another part, the "queen-part". And indeed, she won't marry to Joffrey, and king Joffrey never treat her like a queen. Also, when she is at the court, her docile appearance is just an "armor of courtesy" : in fact, under this armor, we found the wolf-part, the same that she reveal when she run to queen Cersei when Ned want to take her back to Winterfell ("she was a fury like Arya"...), aso...

At the Eyrie, the bear-part (= lady and queen part) begins her resurrection : for example, when she's building Winterfell with snow, she is compared to a little bear. 

So, what was killed in Trident, in Darry's godswood, could reborn in the Vale, with the Waynwood ^^ (let's bet it's not the last step !)

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10 hours ago, GloubieBoulga said:

Perhaps another way to connect Sansa to her bear-part : when Lady is sacrified, the she wolf is very docile and obedient, as if she was representing the princess/queen part. That would mean that Ned Stark didn't sacrified the wolf-part of Sansa, but another part, the "queen-part". And indeed, she won't marry to Joffrey, and king Joffrey never treat her like a queen. Also, when she is at the court, her docile appearance is just an "armor of courtesy" : in fact, under this armor, we found the wolf-part, the same that she reveal when she run to queen Cersei when Ned want to take her back to Winterfell ("she was a fury like Arya"...), aso...

At the Eyrie, the bear-part (= lady and queen part) begins her resurrection : for example, when she's building Winterfell with snow, she is compared to a little bear. 

So, what was killed in Trident, in Darry's godswood, could reborn in the Vale, with the Waynwood ^^ (let's bet it's not the last step !)

That's an interesting idea.  Sansa's Vale arch parallels that of Idunn.  Both were kidnapped by a giant /titan in the form of a bird (mockingbird in LF's case) and hidden in a mountain.  Though Idunn never dies explicitly in this tale, it alludes to resurrection.  When Loki steals her back, Idunn is hidden in the form of a nut, essentially a seed, a dormant form of life waiting to resprout/be reborn.

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a dormant form of life waiting to resprout/be reborn.

  •  
  •  

 

That make me think to Snow White's tale (which is also a popular variation about the myth of maidens who represent the death and the rebirth of nature). GRRM makes with Sansa lot of explicit reference to Snow White. One day, her promised prince will come ;) 

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1 hour ago, Isobel Harper said:

That's an interesting idea.  Sansa's Vale arch parallels that of Idunn.  Both were kidnapped by a giant /titan in the form of a bird (mockingbird in LF's case) and hidden in a mountain.  Though Idunn never dies explicitly in this tale, it alludes to resurrection.  When Loki steals her back, Idunn is hidden in the form of a nut, essentially a seed, a dormant form of life waiting to resprout/be reborn.

This again reminds me of the idea of a fire moon meteor lodged in the ice moon, and Sansa as a depiction of that. The idea of her as a seed waiting to trigger regeneration fits well. Comets and meteors are star seed of course... I should read up on the myth of Idunn.

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Yeah, ok, it's very like the Persephone myth, with her absence causing the gods to wither and grow old and grey, just like Demeter's absence does when she goes looking for Persephone. It seems like a cycle of the seasons myth, with her abduction naturally occurring during winter... and of course the Eyrie is a prominent ice moon / ice castle symbol. Where are Sansa's fruits of immortality? I know she made children's snow knights, which is a stand in for the CQ making Others, who are immortal, but there is not fruit involved. I know she has a persephone pomegranate scene with Petyr at his little sheepshit castle on the Fingers, and they cut some fruit there, but it's Petyr offering the fruit as Hades did to persephone. Perhaps at the upcoming tourney that Sansa designed she will hand out fruit or something symbolizing such?

ETA: Also, the giant who stole Idunn turned into an eagle but was burned out of the air by a pure the gods built on Asgard. That sounds a lot like Varamyr's being burned out of his eagle, FWIW. 

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1 hour ago, LmL said:

Yeah, ok, it's very like the Persephone myth, with her absence causing the gods to wither and grow old and grey, just like Demeter's absence does when she goes looking for Persephone. It seems like a cycle of the seasons myth, with her abduction naturally occurring during winter... and of course the Eyrie is a prominent ice moon / ice castle symbol. Where are Sansa's fruits of immortality? I know she made children's snow knights, which is a stand in for the CQ making Others, who are immortal, but there is not fruit involved. I know she has a persephone pomegranate scene with Petyr at his little sheepshit castle on the Fingers, and they cut some fruit there, but it's Petyr offering the fruit as Hades did to persephone. Perhaps at the upcoming tourney that Sansa designed she will hand out fruit or something symbolizing such?

ETA: Also, the giant who stole Idunn turned into an eagle but was burned out of the air by a pure the gods built on Asgard. That sounds a lot like Varamyr's being burned out of his eagle, FWIW. 

Sansa refuses to eat one of his pomegranates, which I think foreshadows that she will not ultimately be "stuck with him" as Persephone was with Hades.  She chooses a PEAR instead,  which drips down her chin.  The pear is what I believe to be the fertility fruit.  I'll have to look up some scenes involving pears again,  but two that come to mind (both from Dance) are Daenerys giving a pear to Daario, who ultimately becomes her lover and probably conceives a child with her; and Viserion who Daenerys finds resting beneath a pear tree with his (or her??) head on his tail, essentially a dragon in a coil, symbolizing renewal of life. 

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2 minutes ago, Isobel Harper said:

Sansa refuses to eat one of his pomegranates, which I think foreshadows that she will not ultimately be "stuck with him" as Persephone was with Hades.  She chooses a PEAR instead,  which drips down her chin.  The pear is what I believe to be the fertility fruit.  I'll have to look up some scenes involving pears again,  but two that come to mind (both from Dance) are Daenerys giving a pear to Daario, who ultimately becomes her lover and probably conceives a child with her; and Viserion who Daenerys finds resting beneath a pear tree with his (or her??) head on his tail, essentially a dragon in a coil, symbolizing renewal of life. 

Dany has that pear tree on her terrace, the one where Viserion coils around. And then later Dany gives Daario a pear from that tree and he eats it and tosses away the core.

  • Viserion sensed her disquiet. The white dragon lay coiled around a pear tree, his head resting on his tail. When Dany passed his eyes came open, two pools of molten gold.

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On 7/23/2015 at 7:34 AM, sweetsunray said:

Oh, sweet she was, and pure and fair! The ugly duckling!

 

I will leave the arguments for Gendry as a bear for the moment, though I will come back to that. Instead I will focus for a while on a character that I have as a POV used for Gendry's evidence as a bear - Arya Stark. She will inadvertently lead us back to the hidden bear. Some swan themes may be glaringly obvious plot wise, but just as much as Gendry is a very well rounded bear in symbolism, Arya is very much written out as a maiden by GRRM in very different ways. As a main character she has several plots, references and roles going.

 

I'm not the first to remark on the fact that Arya seems to have the "ugly duckling" role. We all know she was harrassed by Jeyne Poole to believe she's ugly, and yet all expect her to grow into a pretty or beautiful young woman, since Eddard Stark recognizes features of Lyanna in her. But upon my research I actually came upon a swan reference, in her pov. So, I decided to grab the Anderson story book that once was given to my mother in the 50s and actually reread the "Ugly Duckling" story as it was written by Anderson.

 

Anderson's story can be broken down in as follows: (link to ugly duckling)

  • A cygnet grows up with a duck family at a castle’s moat. They regard him as a big-sized ugly duck, bully and pester him, and he comes to believe it.  
  • Te “ugly duckling” runs off, away from the ducks and hens pecking at him, and the girl that throws the food kicking at him.
  • Wild ducks and exclusive male geese accept him friendly enough, though they still regard him as an ugly duckling.
  • The wild ducks and geese all get shot by hunters at the lake and reeds.
  • A fearsome, big dog with cruel eyes gleaming bares his teeth at him, growling, but eventually takes off. The duckling dares not to move for a while, until eventually it runs off out of the swamp.
  • During a storm the cygnet gets taken in by an old woman with a cat and hen at a farmstead that’s half in ruins, with a door swinging on its old and broken hinges.
  • The cat and hen act as if they are the lord and lady of the household, think and speak as if they're half the world - the better half of course - that they know better and that the ugly duckling is dumb, and should listen to his wise elders, and not talk back. The hen has "short legs" and the cat can "spark when rubbed the wrong way".
  • The cat and hen don’t understand why he wants to swim on a lake, when it’s warm and cozy within. All that is required from them is to do their job: purr and "crackle" (cat) and lay eggs (hen). He is kept by the old woman to see if he can lay duck eggs.
  • He decides to leave to swim on the lake and sees swans flying, thinks they’re beautiful and wishes he could join them, but can’t fly yet.
  • The lake freezes shut and he’s trapped. Famished and nearly frozen himself he is found by a farmer who takes him home, where he revives and gets well again.
  • The children of the farmer are so noisy that they frighten him. He ends up in a bowl of milk, then butter and finally flower, until it looks awful. Scared by all the noise and shrieks, he runs off again.
  • The “ugly duckling” spends a winter in a cave by a lake all by himself, suffering increasingly in his isolation, loneliness, cold and hunger.
  • With the coming of spring, he does admire the sun and the blooms, but has also come to a point of not wanting to live alone anymore, let alone another winter like it. And yet, he believes it is unavoidable, for surely no one will accept him. He wants to end his shame and misery, by ending his life.
  • He sees 3 regal swans and swims towards them, thinking they will peck him to death.. As he bows his head to be executed he discovers he sees his reflection in the water and discovers he’s all grown up and in fact a swan, instead of a duck.
  • The other swans welcome him and those who visit the lake say he is the most beautiful swan of all, making him shy, but also happy.

 

Now let's see how Arya's story compares to it.

  • Arya does not have the Tully look as the other trueborn siblings, she’s not a proper lady but a tomboy, she often has to point out that she’s a girl, not a boy. And on top of that Jeyne Poole and Sansa call her ‘horsefaced’. She believes she can’t be a proper lady and is ugly, and therefore never paired with the handsome boys. While she thinks it isn't fair and is angry, she also blames herself more than others.

 

 
  • Arya contemplates running away. She gets her wish when she must run from the Red Keep surviving in Flea Bottom.

 

 
  • Eventually, she's forced to run and travel with Yoren and the men and boys for the Wall (like the all male geese), pretending to be a boy herself, and through a fight earn her respect amongst the 'gutter rats'. It's rather confusing that now when she pretends to be what normally the majority of the people believe her to be, some Gold Cloak actually sees she's a girl (despite her hair cut). Now she must deny she's a girl.
 
  • They are being hunted by Gold Cloaks, hunted by a foraging Ser Amory, hunted by the foraging Mountain. Yoren intended to travel for Harrenhal to seek help with House Whent, not even knowing that is only wishful thinking, since Tywin Lannister has taken Harrenhal already. They dig in at the hodlfast with the towerhouse, where KR meets the God's Eye lake, making them basically "sitting ducks" for Ser Amory where The majority get slaughtered. Later Lommy is killed by Raff.

 

 
  • They get caught by the Mountain with Dogs for a sigil.
  • At the burned village at the God’s Eye, Arya sees black swans gliding over the water and wants to be a swan. She also wants to swim, like the Ugly Duckling yearns for the lake when safe with the cat and hen.
  • She is brought to the ruinous Harrenhal, where Goodwife Amabel, Harra and later Weese act as if they are the lords and ladies of Harrenhal themselves, and often refer to her being ugly and themselves as wise. Originally Arya is meant for the kitchens (laying eggs?) by the "clucking" Amabel, but eventually used as an errand girl under Weese who can "purr" and "crack" and has his eyes on her, like a cat.
 
  • Hot Pie (as short legged hen) and Gendry (as the cat that can spark if rubbed in the wrong way) don’t understand why Arya wants to escape the ruinous Harrenhal. They have their jobs in the kitchen and forge, get food and aren’t hunted.

 

 
  • Arya still escapes (taking Hot Pie and Gendry along) and manages to reach the Trident, but after the food of Harrenhal ran out many days before that, they venture out into a garden to steal vegetables, and end up taken by the Brotherhood, where she gets a period of reprieve and heal enough to become a little girl again. Initially she is highly suspicious, still hating to be seen as a 'little girl', reminding herself that this one and that one are not her friends, but eventually can interact normally with them, relax, not mind the singing, even share some of the experiences and thereby heal from the horror, until in the end she allows herself to be a little girl that misses her mother. GRRM shows us this in the way he has Arya describe events or people. There is a lot of 'stupid'(stupid songs, stupid little lady) or sometimes a 'silly' added to it, especially in relation to 'little girl', something she loudly protest against being called, but less and less so with each chapter. I give just a few selected examples.
 
[compare these two descriptions, from the same night. The first bath and dress experience is full of negative judgmental terms. Though the second dress is even a 'worse' dress than before, there is no actual negative judgmental term used. She says it's worse, but the descriptive language betrays she is not as bothered by it]
  • Arya ends up tearing and soiling the dress she’s given, causing a roar of laughter, as if she ended up in a tub of milk, butter and flower.
  • When Tom, Lem and Beric argue over what to do with her, her head pounds with all the noise and she runs outside the “barn/stable”.
  • She is taken by the Hound, who snarls at her, talks mean, but ultimately does not harm her. Here we get a repeat of the Ugly Duckling's meeting with the mean hunting dog.
 
 
  • Winter has come, and Arya hides with the FM, at a swamp-lake region, basically emotionally isolated and groomed into becoming “no one”.
 
 
  • Also, as Cat of the Canals in Braavos she admires and is fascinated by the courtesans (beautiful, independent women admired by men), as if she regards them as the swans of the female world (and Lynesse, Jorah’s swan maiden is a courtesan in Lys)

 

  • If GRRM is incorporating the “ugly duckling” story, then he’ll have Arya grow up, possibly surrender to be executed, or may even contemplate suicide in a conflict of the heart and mind, over shame of what she has done. But she will discover she has grown into a beautiful woman (on the inside as well), welcomed with open arms. I’m not sure but the courtesans of Braavos may end up helping her somehow. Or the “regality” of swans implies she joins the court. Here follow some quotes of suicides she learns about, about philosophy of death as a gift to end pain, to contemplate the possibility whether GRRM might include Arya becoming pre-suicidal at some point. She learns how Ashara died by Edric Dayne; she considers jumping into the Trident as the ferry crosses, despite the risk of drowning, and thinking that drowning is better than Joffrey; witness to the gift of mercy on the man of Pinkmaiden; Sandor wanting her to give him the gift of mercy; she gives the bravo the gift of mercy to a bravo shortly after entering the House of Black and White; the kindly man explains how death can be an end to pain and suffering when sins and burdens become too much to bear; she remembers the old Northmen claiming they go out to hunt in the middle of winter as an expression to die in the snow.
 

 

Conclusion

 

Though we know Arya as a she-wolf, a great part of her plot is analogues to the ugly duckling's plot. We solely miss the ending. If a major part of her story is that of the ugly duckling, then this implies we can regard har as a swan in a plot sense.

Most impressive analysis of Arya as a swan symbol. 

Could Sansa be one as well (read your analysis mirroring Tyrion's rejection of swan meat to Sansa's situation)

Sansa=Hansa  Hansa is another name for goose, also prevalent in folklore of the north and reminds me of the Hanseatic bankers who beggared the Spanish Empire in the 16-17th centuries.

These are simply random thoughts- I don't pretend to writing up extensive essays (yet!) just brbling along with my morning coffee.

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