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Puns and Wordplay

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As I was re-reading some early Bran POVs, I started to wonder about Little Walder and Big Walder, so frequently referred to as Catelyn's wards. Suddenly the similarity between "wards" and "swords" struck me. Ned's sword, Ice, is reformed into a big sword (Oathkeeper) and a little sword (Widow's Wail). Similarly Catelyn "has" two wards: a Big Walder and a Little Walder. There is informed speculation in this forum that Big Walder killed Little Walder, blaming the death on the mysterious serial killer on the loose in Ramsay Bolton's Winterfell. If it is correct to conclude that one ambitious Walder is trying to kill Freys in order to clear a path to become the Lord of the Crossing (children's games are never just games in ASOIAF), one might draw a parallel between the wards and swords: Catelyn would like to wipe out as many Freys as possible, and it appears that this ward/sword is an automated weapon that may help to achieve her goal.

Help me to make a list and analyze some of GRRM's other plays on words and/or rhymes.

Bear / bare - I think the intertwined Mormont and Stark stories may play on the idea that a person who is stark naked might also be described as bare naked.

stark / House Stark - There are several references to stark, treeless mountaintops and stark stones after Winterfell burns.

Tywin / twin - The Lannister patriarch invests a lot of his hopes for the glory of his house in his messed-up twins.

Hart / heart - The hart trees seem to be a network with sap that looks like blood.

stew / steward - We see sister stew and singer stew and later get a complex lesson about the varied translations of the Selaesori Qhoran, including stinky steward and/or Hand of the King. How are stews and stewards linked, if at all?

Bowl / bole - In the thread about Jojen Paste, there is speculation that the juxtaposition of Jojen with a bole (tree trunk or stump) strengthens the theory that Jojen eventually will end up in a bowl.

Corn / Acorn - Bran feeds corn to the crows; Tyrion feeds acorns to Pretty Pig.

And then there are the many names of characters that allude to wordplay - rain / House Reyne, for instance, winking at the death by drowning inflicted on the upstart house. I've always thought that the sword Needle alludes to Ned + Lyanna. Aegon and his nickname egg would be an obvious reference to a dragon egg.

I'll add others as they come to me.

Edited by Seams

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Had a few more come to me this morning:

hide / hide - In a very early chapter, Jon tells Arya not to hide too long, to go back to her room. Because hide is another word for a pelt or animal skin, this goes to the warging or "skin changing" ability of the Stark children. They have to balance their warg adventures with being present in their own bodies. In other words, don't "hide" too long.

sew / sewer - Tyrion is an expert on the sewer system at Casterly Rock. "Sewing" is mostly done by women and, in the books, seems to be a metaphor for holding the kingdom (or society) together.

And another character name:

Aside from the letter "N", the name Oathkeeper contains all the letters for both Theon and Reek. This could strengthen the notion that wards and swords should be considered alongside each other - Oathkeeper is made from Ned's sword, Ice. Theon is Ned's ward.

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Dawn was forged on the heart of a fallen star.

Bran is the fallen Stark who is in the heart of the weirwood.

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Dolorous Eddison Tollet, OR Toilet:  he seems to be around urine, feces, and vomit.

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53 minutes ago, evita mgfs said:

Dawn was forged on the heart of a fallen star.

Bran is the fallen Stark who is in the heart of the weirwood.

 

43 minutes ago, SerLinginBerry said:

I liked the guard in Cersei's first AFfC chapter. His name is Red Lester....a pun on Red Leicester cheese.

 

38 minutes ago, evita mgfs said:

Dolorous Eddison Tollet, OR Toilet:  he seems to be around urine, feces, and vomit.

These are great, you guys! Thank you for these contributions.

I thought of another one that was discussed elsewhere awhile ago:

craven / raven - This one seems most closely linked in the person of Sam Tarly, who is always worried about being craven and who takes charge of the Night's Watch ravens. Bran recalls that his father told him, "There's no shame in fear, my father told me, what matters is how we face it." (ACoK) Any other ways these two sound-alike words are paired?

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20 hours ago, Seams said:

sew / sewer - Tyrion is an expert on the sewer system at Casterly Rock. "Sewing" is mostly done by women and, in the books, seems to be a metaphor for holding the kingdom (or society) together.

A couple new thoughts this morning on sewing, my favorite motif. There is another sound-alike word having to do with planting crops: sow. The landowners and peasants throughout Westeros have to prepare for long winters by sowing seeds and storing harvested grain for winter food. When Bran is sitting as Lord of Winterfell, he and his advisors instruct a liege lord to set aside more of his crop. I wonder whether this means that Bran is also part of the sewing/sowing motif? It could also be an allusion to the old phrase, "As ye sow, so shall ye reap," meaning people get the outcomes they deserve.

Also, Penny's pig, Pretty Pig, is female. That makes her a sow, an adult female swine. I realize this is pronounced differently than the sow having to do with planting crops, but it could be part of the same motif. Tyrion rides the sow when he joins Penny's comedy jousting act. There is a lot of talk in Tyrion's Selaesori Qhoran POVs about the crew's desire to kill and eat Pretty Pig, but Penny manages to keep the pig and dog alive with Tyrion's help. (Penny feeds the pig acorns, which I associate with the tree-worshipping Starks. Speaking of sewing, Arya wears a dress with acorn embroidery when she is recognized as a high-born girl at Lady Smallwood's house.)

So it may be a bit of a leap of logic, but the sow (pig) could be part of the sewing motif in that Tyrion is working to keep her alive in the same way his sewing of an outfit aboard the Shy Maid might represent his work to keep the seven kingdoms united. I think he presumes that the pig has died when he and Penny and Ser Jorah make their way to the Second Sons. Maybe we will find out otherwise in TWoW, or maybe a different symbolic pig will enter the story to tell us that there is hope for the survival of the Seven Kingdoms.

I've been trying to work out the Penny-related chapters. This may be one of the key pieces I need to make sense of the allegory.

Sewing / sowing / sewers / sows.

Edited by Seams

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The letters of "Daenerys" rearranged spell "Ser Dayne"

And of course, Sarella is Alleras backwards...

Edited by LiveFirstDieLater

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I think Grey-joy will be where Theon ultimately ends up if we use a black to white color scale. It's not just his name.

He started off kinda cocky and obnoxious but saves Bran from the wildlings = medium grey

Theon goes to his father where it's decided he should take Winterfell = darker grey

Ramsay captures and tortures Theon, now Reek, and he is in a pit of mental despair and wanting to die = darkest grey

Ramsay has Theon betray his own Iron Born people at Moat Cailin and assists in some way to the hunt of Ramsays tortured lovers, thereby forcing Theon to partake in the death and demise of others = black

Theon accepts his new subservient place in life and begins to ask for forgiveness at the Weirwood seeing how his first Theon life wasn't as bad as he thought = rising back to dark grey

Theon tries to help fArya/Jeyne survive Ramsay = another rise back to medium grey

Theon actively tries to save Jeyne and then gives Stannis some info in the Winds chapter = back at center to medium grey where I think he will stay because he will never truly forgive himself for the human tragedies he has caused. His physical reminders won't grow back either. 

He may see the clear/white side of the scale, but won't live long enough to enjoy it. 

Edited by The Fattest Leech

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9 hours ago, The Fattest Leech said:

I think Grey-joy will be where Theon ultimately ends up if we use a black to white color scale. It's not just his name.

...

Great point! I had wondered why GRRM would give the nasty and serious ironborn such a surname, both with its Stark connotations and the added word "joy" which seems like a misnomer. I am developing some new ideas to go with the wards and swords wordplay, and Theon's surname may fit with that motif. Thanks for this interesting analysis!

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12 minutes ago, Seams said:

Great point! I had wondered why GRRM would give the nasty and serious ironborn such a surname, both with its Stark connotations and the added word "joy" which seems like a misnomer. I am developing some new ideas to go with the wards and swords wordplay, and Theon's surname may fit with that motif. Thanks for this interesting analysis!

If it fits, feel free to use it. :thumbsup:

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The first two sentences of Ned’s POV I from AGoT follow:

“The visitors poured though the castle gates in a river of gold and silver and polished steel, three hundred strong, a pride of bannermen and knights, of sworn swords and freeriders.  Over their heads a dozen golden banners whipped back and forth in the northern wind, emblazoned with the crowned stag of Baratheon” (AGoT  39).

First sentences in a POV are often significant, and in these opening sentences Martin captures the pomp and circumstance of a royal arrival featuring colors uncharacteristic of the cold grey north splashed against the sky,

Martin’s “nautical motif” is evident in words such as “poured”,  “river”,  “gate”,  “whipped back and forth”, and “in the northern wind”, all of which conjure images of movement as well as of the sails of a craft upon a body of water.  

The “river” speaks to an analogy Lord Brynden makes in his lessons to Bran, comparing time to a river.  Moreover, the water imagery brings to mind Homer’s Odyssey, the story of Odysseus’ ill-fated voyage home to the island of Ithaca.  Like Odysseus, each Stark embarks on a symbolic “odyssey” of  his/her own, a long arduous journey during which he/she will encounter perils that he/she must overcome.  Some will survive, others will fail.  Ultimately, all will return to their home in some fashion or another.

LION MOTIF:  Martin uses the word “pride” – aka a family of lions – here “a pride of  bannermen and knights, of sworn swords and freeriders ”.  When Robert vaults off his warhorse, he greets Ned with a “familiar roar”.  Martin intimates that this Baratheon is more a LION than a STAG, for King Robert  confides in Ned that he plans to name Jaime Lannister “Warden of the East” and send little Robert Arryn to foster with Tywin Lannister.

Two pages later, once the King is with Ned for a while, he behaves more like a STAG when he “snorts” a remark that Ned’s people in the north are hiding underneath the snow.

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Near the center of the novel A Dance with Dragons, Martin presents a Jon POV that is rich in figurative language that speaks to the oneness of Jon the warg and his direwolf Ghost.  At the same time, Martin foreshadows Jon sharing his direwolf’s skin in the near future.

Martin plays with his cloaking/coating motif by suggesting that Jon Snow metaphorically is the “snow”, as in Jon’s observation that Ghost “seemed to love fresh snow” [462].  Ghost loves Jon Snow so much that he even covers himself with “snow”!

 So much so  that “At the base of the Wall he [Jon] found Ghost rolling in a snowbank . . . When he saw Jon he bounded back onto his feet and shook himself off” [462].

Because Martin repeats this and more figurative language pertaining to cloak/coat wearing and removing, Martin may indeed suggest that Jon Snow will wear his direwolf’s skin as warg – and direwolf will be in disguise as Jon Snow, wearing his snowy coat, yet cognizant and aware as his master – the warg within the direwolf.  Eventually, Ghost will “shake” off or shake out Jon Snow’s warg, returning warg and wolf to the body of Jon Snow.

Furthermore, Martin makes clear to readers to pay heed to language when Jon Snow says, “The words matter . . .”[462].  In context, Jon refers to the NW oath that his new recruits will speak beyond the Wall in the grove of nine weirwoods.  Yet, at the same time, Jon’s words “cloak” deeper meanings – Jon is Martin’s voice attesting to the importance of the author’s words as well as the sacred oath of the SB of the NW.

A great deal of Jon’s dialogue has deeper meanings:  the NW words “bind us all together” and “They make us brothers” [462-463].  Jon and Ghost are thus bonded, closer than even Jon and his half siblings.

When Jon calls Ghost “To me”, the direwolf “shook the snow from his back and trotted to Jon’s side” [463[.  This is the second reference to Ghost wearing the skin of “Jon Snow”.  Then Jon and Ghost travel beneath the ice, “the trees stood tall and silent, huddled in thick white cloaks” [463].  Martin dresses the trees to emphasize the idea of “transformation/rebirth/skinchanging”.  The men who march with Jon will return transformed – and they will wear the black as SBs.  Likewise, Jon Snow will also be transformed/reborn/skinchanged not long after his return to the Wall.  Mayhap he will shed his black cloak – Martin hints at this, yes?

Ghost stalks beside Jon’s mount, sniffing the air.  When Jon asks “What is it?”, Jon admits to himself, the reader, and Ghost that Jon Snow has limited vision:  “The woods were empty as far as he could see, but that was not very far” [463].  Perhaps Jon’s vision will be clearer when he looks through the red eyes of Ghost.

Jon watches as “Ghost bounded toward the trees, slipped between two-white-cloaked pines, and vanished in a cloud of snow” [463].  Martin employs the past participle of “slip” - “slipped”, a word BR speaks to Bran, telling him to slip his skin and fly.  “Vanished” is an important word as Martin employs it consistently from the first novel AGoT throughout the novels that follow, when the author describes any of the Stark direwolves as they enter the forest or elsewhere.  “A vanishing act” is a trick, an illusion that magicians perform – it is a fitting word for Martin to repeat because his world of ice and fire is filled with magic.

Martin poignantly depicts Jon and Ghost’s bond – their oneness:

“Jon smelled Tom Barleycorn before he saw him.   Or was it Ghost who smelled him Of late, Jon Snow sometimes felt as he and his direwolf were one, even awake” [466].

“The shield that guards the realms of men.  Ghost nuzzled up against his shoulder, and Jon draped his arm around him.  He could smell Horse’s unwashed breeches, the sweet scent Satin combed into his beard, the sharp smell of fear, the giant’s overpowering musk.  He could hear the beating of his own heart” [469].

Martin emphasizes that Jon and Ghost are connected in language that is obvious and in metaphoric/symbolic language as well.

The third time Martin refers to Ghost and his snow coat is here:  The great wolf appeared first, shaking off the snow” [466].  However, Ghost is also a “white shadow at Jon’s side” with red eyes like the weirwood’s.

Martin makes many other references to cloaks, all of which play into the theme of changing/transforming through wearing an outer garment that is superfluous when held up against what rests inside the heart of he who wears another’s likeness.

“The evening sky had turned the faded grey of an old cloak that had been washed too many times . . .” [466].

Their hoods were raised against the biting wind, and some had scarves wrapped about their faces, hiding their features” [464].

With their black hoods and thick black cowls, the six might have been carved from shadow” [468].

“The wind . . , made their coats snap and swirl . . .” [469].

Finally, Jon Snow removes his cloak upon returning, “hanging his cloak on the peg beside the door” [470].

After taking off his cloak, Jon reads the words of a king, after which he reflects upon Winterfell, “the castle is a shell . . . not WF, but the ghost of WF” [470]. 

Jon without his NW identity and cloak is an empty shell as is WF without a visible Stark on location.  Ghost will house Jon Snow’s warg, and wolf and warg will make their presence known as a Ghost in Winterfell, literally and symbolically.

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Seams, I reccomend reading that passage about Ice in Catelyn's first chapter from a double entendre point. Ned is stroking and polishing hiw "greatsword" and Catelyn finds it has its own beauty. Later she gets shown Ned's bones and remarks his sword is missing. Following the same double entendre, we get the Osiris-Isis myth. Osiris is murdered and Isis goes searching for his body (or rather the separate pieces of his body). She can find everything but his phallus. So, then she has a golden magical one made.  

Edited by sweetsunray

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6 minutes ago, sweetsunray said:

Seams, I reccomend reading that passage about Ice in Catelyn's first chapter from a double entendre point. Ned is stroking and polishing hiw "greatsword" and Catelyn finds it has its own beauty. Later she gets shown Ned's bones and remarks his sword is missing. Following the same double entendre, we get the Osiris-Isis myth. Osiris is murdered and Isis goes searching for his body (or rather the separate pieces of his body). She can find everything but his phallus. So, then she has a golden magical one made.  

Wha?!?! Mind blown. Thank you. I don't know much about *Egyptian mythology, but wow, that is a beautiful connection. 

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58 minutes ago, sweetsunray said:

Seams, I recommend reading that passage about Ice in Catelyn's first chapter from a double entendre point. Ned is stroking and polishing hiw "greatsword" and Catelyn finds it has its own beauty. Later she gets shown Ned's bones and remarks his sword is missing. Following the same double entendre, we get the Osiris-Isis myth. Osiris is murdered and Isis goes searching for his body (or rather the separate pieces of his body). She can find everything but his phallus. So, then she has a golden magical one made.  

Interesting! I am putting a lot of thought into swords - Ice in particular - these days, so this is very useful.

33 minutes ago, Brother of edd tollett said:

Jeyne poole not having the correct gene pool to be a stark

I love this! With my sword interest lately, I had just realized that Jeyne Poole's surname was probably significant in the symbolic sense of annealing a newly-forged or reforged sword. A smith would plunge a blade into a Poole after heating it and hammering it for awhile.

Evite mgfs thank you for your contributions. Pride and pride is a good pun to indicate the Lannister control of the Baratheon regime.

There is also certainly rich symbolism throughout the books, and maybe I am trying to make too fine a distinction between symbolism and wordplay. I'm focused on puns and rhyming words and wordplay involving the names of characters in this thread. Literary analysis of recurring motifs seems like a different topic to me.

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10 minutes ago, Seams said:

Interesting! I am putting a lot of thought into swords - Ice in particular - these days, so this is very useful.

I love this! With my sword interest lately, I had just realized that Jeyne Poole's surname was probably significant in the symbolic sense of annealing a newly-forged or reforged sword. A smith would plunge a blade into a Poole after heating it and hammering it for awhile.

Evite mgfs thank you for your contributions. Pride and pride is a good pun to indicate the Lannister control of the Baratheon regime.

There is also certainly rich symbolism throughout the books, and maybe I am trying to make too fine a distinction between symbolism and wordplay. I'm focused on puns and rhyming words and wordplay involving the names of characters in this thread. Literary analysis of recurring motifs seems like a different topic to me.

Got it.  I won't be back.:bawl:

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Feel free to come back! You have obviously put a lot of effort into analyzing the symbols - something I love to do, too. I'm sure you have some focused puns or rhymes within your larger essays. Those would be great here.

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3 hours ago, The Fattest Leech said:

Wha?!?! Mind blown. Thank you. I don't know much about *Egyptian mythology, but wow, that is a beautiful connection. 

The reference of the "good ache" and her desiring the seed may quicken, and her relation to Bran and later on Robb also fit that of Isis with her son Horus the Younger. Horus the Younger was born out of Isis copulating with the golden phallus of dead Osiris. As a child he at least gets harmed once by something (and thus Isis is very protective of him) but lives through magic, but as an adult attempts to revenge what evil Set did to Osiris (and Isis accompanies her son in this).

Also, Isis tries to hide Osiris' body from Set in a swamp. Where is Ned's body currently believed to reside by some in the books? In the Neck.

Lysa's message in a box combines 3 myths:

  1. The revalation about the message in the box from start to finish follows the rituals of the Eleusinian Mystery (Persephone-Demeter): things shown, things said, things done and all three are unspeakable to outsiders, because punishable by death. A hierphant (a wise priest learned in mysteries accompanies it). George avoids the verb "said" for a full page, while the page is rampant about "seeing", "reading", etc. Then all of a sudden in less than 1 page he uses said 7 times, even in speech such as "Lysa said..." (while Lysa actually "wrote"). And the whole section ends with "Lysa knows it would mean death if..." (paraphrasing here). Luwin is the hierophant.
  2. It's also Pandora's box: opening that box and deciphering the message leads to nothing but death and mysery to the Stark family
  3. And finally it's Set's box: jealous Set had Osiris body measurements taken, had a beautiful, rich box made and at a banquet he tells the rest that the person who can fit himself inside the box gets to keep it. They all try and fail, but Osiris (it was custom made to his size). Once he lies in it, Set closes the lid and gets rid of him. LF instructed Lysa how to get Ned drawn into the game that would kill him.

Another pun and wordplay in Catelyn's first chapter: when she finds Ned at the tree and pool, she turns her back to the weirwood tree and "covers" the silent mossy ground "with her cloak". Her interaction with Ned there is very loving and follows into her fascination as he cleans Ice. The cloak of course reminds us of the marriage cloak. And in my language, Dutch, we have a saying, to "cover with the cloak of love". It's slightly different in English: "to cover with the cloak of charity". But the cloaking of the elements she dislikes so much about the godswood and Winterfell and the North while focusing on Ned as her husband and being charitable and a listening ear to him, we see her literally cover it with a cloak of love.

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