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Arya is the Little Mermaid

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Posted (edited)

Yes I do!

There are actually little mermaid references through much of Arya’s storyline—particularly once she comes to Braavos—and futhermore having lost her sense of sight previously as part of her training, and having used her voice in her role as Mercy acting at the Gate theater in her spoiled Winds of Winter chapter, it makes a lot of sense for her voice to be taken next while she is placed with either the Merling Queen or the Black Pearl.

Arya is the Little Mermaid of the House Tully Mermaids

Sansa Stark looks like Ariel from the Little Mermaid with her red hair, pale skin, and blue eyes. So does Sansa and Arya’s mother Catelyn. Arya does not, because she has the grey eyes, long face, and brown hair of the Starks. But physical appearance aside, Arya and Sansa have the same Tully blood as Catelyn. The Tully sigil is a fish on a background of red and blue waves. Their castle Riverrun lies on the Red Fork of the Trident River. Their Uncle Brendon Blackfish escapes Riverrun by swimming under the river gate and down the river past the besieging Frey’s and Lannister’s.

But there are some ways that Arya is closest to the Little Mermaid. She is literally the youngest Tully girl, the younger sister of Sansa, with Catelyn as their mother and Lysa as their aunt. Arya is the one who feels like she doesn’t fit in with the other women in her family and their friends, similar to how the Little Mermaid Ariel is the one who doesn’t fit in with her five older sisters and the other mermaids.

In Hans Christian Andersen’s original, the six mermaid princesses share a garden under the sea, and the Little Mermaid chooses to grow red flowers and one ash tree in hers. She loves flowers more than anything and the one ash tree she plants and raises is next to a marble statue of a man and grows up next to and around the statute as though they are lovers. In ASOIAF, our Arya loves flowers. Fans often forget that because Arya is so associated with running off exploring and her love of fencing, chasing cats, and Tomboy tendencies. But it’s overlooked that whenever she goes off on her adventures on the trip from Winterfell to Kings Landing she is looking for flowers, which we are told she adores. She knows the name of every flower in the North, we are told.

Ash trees have a role in Norse and Celtic mythology which is the inspiration for the weirwoods; Yggdrasil, the World Tree, is an immense ash tree that runs through the cosmos including the nine worlds. Odin (also Woden or Othin) the chief God acquires magical powers, wisdom, and the use of runes by allowing himself to be blinded in one eye and hung on Yggrasil for nine days and nights. Arya is associated with the weirwoods and ash trees throughout the story. One of her most important encounters with Jaqen occurs right in front of the weirwood (symbolic ash tree) in Harrenhal. This is where Jaqen offers her three death wishes when Arya is at a point of dispair.

And of course Arya’s name is close to Ariel’s name. They both start with “Ar” then have the ‘i/y’ sound. The only difference is in the ending. But at times through the story Aria drops the ending and goes only by Arry when she is with Hot Pie and other Night’s Watch teens. Ariel’s name actually means lion (‘ari’) of God (‘el’)—which isn’t particularly associated with mermaids or the sea—but Ariel is given the most beautiful voice in the sea and the world by Hans Christian Andersen. So by changing her name from Ariel to Aria/Arya actually makes the name closer to our conception of the Little Maid Character with the beautiful voice.

But note that if a character such as Jaqen or Jon is ever ordered to kill her, “Ari” means lion so this would be plunging a dagger in the heart of a water girl (a Tully), and a lion girl (Arry), and a Nissa Nissa wife/sister figure all wrapped into one. That is all three stages of the forging of Lightbringer by Azor Ahai story wrapped into one killing! This will happen near the conclusion of A Dream of Spring, probably ordered by Daenerys, and be the final moral dilemma faced by either Jaqen or Jon in the story.


Hans Christian Andersen was born in Denmark and lived his whole life in this continental European country North of Germany, the Netherlands, and Poland. It’s when Arya leaves Westeros and gets to Braavos, in Northwestern Essos, that George Martin really goes crazy with references to Andersen’s most famous creation, the Little Mermaid. Most of these involve the world famous courtesans of Braavos, and specifically two of them: the Black Pearl and the Merling Queen (emphasis added unless indicated):

“Or would you sooner be a courtesan? Speak the word, and we will send you to the Black Pearl or the Daughter of the Dusk…and great lords will beggar themselves for your maiden’s blood.”
—The Kindly Man, Arya II, 

“Before you drink the cold cup, you must offer up all you are to Him of Many Faces. Your Body. Your soul. Yourself. If you cannot bring yourself to do that, you must leave this place.”
—The Kindly Man, Arya II, 
AFFC (emphasis in original)

“The courtesans of Braavos were famous around the world… As she pushed her barrow along the canals, Cat would sometimes see one of them floating by, on her way to a tryst with some lover. Every courtesan had her own barge, and servants to pole her to her trysts. The Poetess always had a book to hand, the Moonshadow only wore white and silver, and the Merling Queen was never seen without her Mermaids, four young maidens at the blush of their first flowering who held her train and brushed her hair.
Cat of the Canals, Arya III, AFFC

“‘I sold three cockles to a courtesan,’ Cat told the sailors. ‘She called me as she was stepping off her barge.’...’Which one was this now? The queen of 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 dragons, that one,’ the woman had told Cat. ‘The first Black Pearl was a pirate queen. A Westerosi Prince took her for a lover and got a daughter on her, who grew up to be a courtesan.’”
—Cat of the Canals, Arya III, 

Cat told the kindly man about the Black Pearl too. ‘Her true name is Bellegere Otherys,’ she informed him. It was one of the three things she had learned. ‘It is,’ the priest said softly. ‘Her mother was Bellanora, but the first Black Pearl was a Bellegere as well.’”
—Cat of the Canals & the Kindly Man, Arya III, 

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.”
—The Blind Girl, Arya I, 

“The Sealord had never visited the Gate, but Izembaro named a box for him anyway, the largest and most opulent in the house. ‘That must be the Westerosi envoy. Have you ever seen such clothes on an old man? And look, he’s brought the Black Pearl!’...The woman with him could not have been more than a third his age. She was so lovely that the lamps seemed to burn brighter when she passed. She had dressed in a low-cut gown of pale yellow silk, startling against the light brown of her skin. Her black hair was bound up in a net of spun gold, and a jet-and-gold necklace brushed against the top of her full breasts. As they watched, she leaned close to the envoy and whispered something in his ear that made him laugh.”

So like it or not, there are a lot of suggestions that the House of Black and White is closely connected to the courtesans of Braavos, and even more foreshadowing that Arya is going to be placed either as one of the Merling Queen’s 13-year-old mermaids or else as an assistant to the Black Pearl, who has appeared more than any other person in Arya’s chapters not to have had more than minor interactions with her.

We should expect that Arya will be placed, to listen and learn, as a mermaid assistant to the Merling Queen. After serving as a mermaid for the Merling Queen, Arya’s voice will be taken—just as her sight was taken before (to increase her powers of nonverbal communication and flirting)—and she will be moved to be the single assistant to the Black Pearl.

Ser Justin Massey’s Rendezvous with his Destiny

Arya’s placement as a mute virgin beauty with the Black Pearl will happen just in time for Ser Justin Massey to arrive in Braavos as Stannis Baratheon’s representative and agent empowered by Stannis and the Iron Bank of Braavos to hire mercenary companies to fight for Stannis in Westeros. Ser Justin Massey was a squire to Robert Barratheon and reportedly acquired his fondness for girls (read prostitutes) from Robert. When Jon believed that Arya was the girl (Alys Karstark) fleeing north to the wall, he feared that Stannis would force Arya to marry Ser Justin Massey. Then Ser Justin Massey accompanied Stannis most of the way to Winterfell, hitting on Ashara Greyjoy once she was captured and propositioning her to marriage (for her claim to the Lordship of the Iron Isles). Now that Stannis has sent Ser Justin Massey back north with Tycho Nestoris and Jeyne Poole—the Bolton’s fake Arya—to cross the narrow sea as his agent, Ser Justin Massey is finally fated for his long foreshadowed rendezvous with Arya.

Ser Justin Massey will come to the Black Pearl with a small fortune (that is not his) seeking to buy Arya’s virginity, but receive an unexpected response from our heroine. In the original Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen, Ariel has the chance to save herself by stabbing a prince in the heart—similar to how Azor Ahai purportedly stabbed his wife Nissa Nissa in the heart. The Little Mermaid declines to do so, and jumps back into the water where she turns into sea foam. Ser Justin Massey’s fate at the hands of our Little Mermaid Arya will not be so sweet.

Azor Ahai as Aria Rhoza (‘Arya the Rose’)

One final interesting thing regarding names is that the letters of Azor Ahai can be rearranged the into “Aria Rhoza” or “Arya the Red Rose.” This ties back into Hans Christian Anderson’s story of the Little Mermaid Ariel who raises red flowers in her undersea garden. Perhaps the name Azor Ahai is an ancient prophecy, garbled by time, regarding our Arya the Red Rose, counterpart to Jon Snow the Blue Rose.

Edited by Jeff Claburn
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