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Looking for Mr Wight


Sandy Clegg
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One of the main features of the Other-created ice wights in ASOIAF is how infrequently they appear. We have the AGOT prologue, then Jon has a wight encounter later on,  and there is the battle at the Fist of the First Men in ASOS, most of which we glimpse from the POV of Sam as he is fleeing from it. AFFC is wightless. ADWD features a lone, brief wighted Thistle in its prologue, [EDIT] and then the wights who attack Bran and company. George likes to use them sparingly, it seems, and the Others even more so - presumably because a lurking danger is more threatening than a readily visible one. But now that we have the prospect of a wighted (resurrected) Jon, Others marching on the Wall, Hardhome perhaps ... it seems as though TWOW will get a lot more wight action. 

I do believe George likes to weave in symbolic references to these significant story elements whenever they are lacking, however. We've seen this with how he encodes Septa Lemore as a Lady Stoneheart parallel, for example. Or how he uses a description of White Harbor to cryptically refer to characters from across the wider story. Doubtless the text is full of many others we have yet to discover.

With regard to wights, or even the Others, I believe he has adopted a similar technique. We can see their echoes in the story in peculiar places, if we do a little digging.

One good example of this was brought up by @Evolett in her post here

 

Crabs as Other/wight parallels would be a fitting motif, especially with the stories of them riding ice spiders. Perhaps crab legs would look like spider legs, after all. 

Anyway, to understand how GRRM may have encoded 'wight' parallels in the story, let's look at the dictionary entry for 'wight':

wight  noun

  • A creature or a person (archaic, dialect or ironic)
  • A supernatural being (obsolete)

wight (archaic and dialect)  adjective

  • Swift, nimble
  • Courageous, strong

This second meaning is naturally the more obscure one, and this could have proved very useful to George RR Martin. Assuming he has access to a decent dictionary, he would be able to use some of these adjectival meanings - swift, nimble, strong - to sneak in symbolism about wights into the story. Let's throw some of these at the wall and see what sticks. The first one is fairly clear.

1. Ser Robert Strong 

Cersei's first thought on meeting the newest member of Tommen's kingsguard is that this is some creature from beyond the Wall:

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A shadow fell across them both, blotting out the sun. The queen felt cold steel slide beneath her, a pair of great armored arms lifting her off the ground, lifting her up into the air as easily as she had lifted Joffrey when he was still a babe. A giant, thought Cersei, dizzy, as he carried her with great strides toward the gatehouse. She had heard that giants could still be found in the godless wild beyond the Wall. That is just a tale. Am I dreaming?

No. Her savior was real. Eight feet tall or maybe taller, with legs as thick around as trees, he had a chest worthy of a plow horse and shoulders that would not disgrace an ox. His armor was plate steel, enameled white and bright as a maiden's hopes, and worn over gilded mail.  - ADWD, Cersei II

A silent giant in white enamel is very much 'ice wight' imagery. With a name of STRONG  that evokes the word WIGHT  - as we have seen above. And this champion is no doubt the reanimated corpse of Ser Gregor Clegane. So, a triple-wight symbol. Not a bad start!

2. Nimble Dick

A nice callback to @Evolett's spider/crab post here, as Nimble Dick's actual name is Dick Crabb, descendant of Ser Clarence Crabb who defeated the squisher king (or so he would have Brienne believe). Does he have any further 'wight symbolism' beyond his name?

Well, if Dick is a wight symbol, then he is of the more shambolic, falling-apart kind:

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However nimble he might be, Dick Crabb was no Jaime Lannister, no Mad Mouse, not even a Humfrey Wagstaff. He was scrawny and ill fed, his only armor a dinted halfhelm spotted with rust. In place of a sword, he carried an old, nicked dagger. So long as she was awake, he posed no danger to her. - AFFC, Brienne IV

No danger ... as long as she is awake. When she is asleep, however, the figure of Dick does take on some startlingly 'buried corpse'-like imagery:

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Twice she dozed. The second time she woke all at once, heart pounding, convinced that someone was looming over her. Her limbs were stiff, and her cloak had gotten tangled round her ankles. She kicked free of it and stood. Nimble Dick was curled against a rock, half-buried in wet, heavy sand, asleep. A dream. It was a dream. - AFFC, Brienne IV

When Dick dies, Brienne throws two golden dragons into his grave, amid a rising moon.

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Podrick helped her lower Nimble Dick into his hole. By the time they were done the moon was rising. Brienne rubbed the dirt from her hands and tossed two dragons down into the grave. - AFFC, Brienne IV

And even after she undergoes a nerve-wracking encounter with Bloody Mummers Pyg, Timeon and Shagwell the Fool  .... it is Nimble Dick who haunts her nightmares:

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They had a restless night. Thrice Brienne woke. Once when the rain began, and once at a creak that made her think Nimble Dick was creeping in to kill her. The second time, she woke with knife in hand, but it was nothing. In the darkness of the cramped little cabin, it took her a moment to remember that Nimble Dick was dead- AFFC, Brienne V

Nimble Dick, a wight / crab figure who continues to haunt Brienne after his death. Another nice symbolic Mr Wight hiding in the text.

3. Harys Swyft

Cersei's Lord Treasurer, previously short-lived Hand, bears another 'wighted' surname (a form of 'swift'). There is very little 'undead' imagery around him at first glance, although he does share some symbolism with Dick Crabb. Here Genna Lannister muses:

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His aunt rolled her eyes. "She would have done better to leave the tower and burn her Hand. Harys Swyft? If ever a man deserved his arms, it is Ser Harys- AFFC, Jamie V

Burning wights is never a bad idea, and Genna wonders wether Cersei might have been better off burning Swyft. Interesting. And he surely 'deserves his arms' - which is Genna's sly way of basically calling him a complete and utter cock (his sigil is a blue rooster) :D . And a cock is basically a male crab by another name (their females are hens). A blue cock/crab certainly fits with our crabby/wighted imagery so far, as blue is the colour of the wights' eyes

What's more, we can look to the imagery of this Lord Treasurer's vaults, which are plainly empty:

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"With enough gold, we might persuade the Golden Company to hand over Lord Connington and the pretender."

"Aye, if we had gold," Ser Harys Swyft said. "Alas, my lords, our vaults contain only rats and roaches. - ADWD, Epilogue

Empty vaults may also mean wights on the prowl, as a vault is also a burial chamber. And in this Arya chapter we see how George draws further parallels between buried coins and corpses, as we saw with Dick Crabb:

The corpses were laid out in the vault. The blind girl went to work in the dark, stripping the dead of boots and clothes and other possessions, emptying their purses and counting out their coins. Telling one coin from another by touch alone was one of the first things the waif had taught her, after they took away her eyes. The Braavosi coins were old friends; she need only brush her fingertips across their faces to recognize them. Coins from other lands and cities were harder, especially those from far away. Volantene honors were most common, little coins no bigger than a penny with a crown on one side and a skull on the other. Lysene coins were oval and showed a naked woman. Other coins had ships stamped onto them, or elephants, or goats. The Westerosi coins showed a king's head on the front and a dragon on the back. - ADWD, The Blind Girl

The way George describes coins here lends them an almost anthropomorphic quality, with the Westerosi 'dragon/king' coin being the most intriguing, if we are to read coins as coded corpses.

A look at Harys Swyft's physical description also reveals some wight-like symbolism in his 'wispy beard' and generally slow, dim demeanour.

And for her Hand, Ser Harys Swyft.

Soft, bald, and obsequious, Swyft had an absurd little white puff of beard where most men had a chin. The blue bantam rooster of his House was worked across the front of his plush yellow doublet in beads of lapis. Over that he wore a mantle of blue velvet decorated with a hundred golden hands. Ser Harys had been thrilled by his appointment, too dim to realize that he was more hostage than Hand. - AFFC, Cersei IV

The idea of wights as being 'hostages' may tie in to the idea that the wights are not independent being, but merely thralls of the Others. In the preview TWOW chapter, he then travels to Braavos where Arya runs into him:

The envoy was slight and balding, with a funny grey wisp of a beard growing from his chin. His cloak was yellow velvet, and his breeches. His doublet was a blue so bright it almost made Mercy’s eyes water. Upon his breast a shield had been embroidered in yellow thread, and on the shield was a proud blue rooster picked out in lapis lazuli. - TWOW, Mercy

Here the bright blueness of his garb is emphasised, a blue so bright it makes Arya's eyes water. More wight imagery. The fact that he is referred to as envoy to the 'king of the mummers' might also bring us closer to linking mummers as coded Others, as I have speculated elsewhere. Somewhere anyway. At this point I've lost track of where all my nonsense is located :) 

 

 

Edited by Sandy Clegg
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On 10/2/2023 at 1:39 PM, Sandy Clegg said:

With regard to wights, or even the Others, I believe he has adopted a similar technique. We can see their echoes in the story in peculiar places, if we do a little digging.

One good example of this was brought up by @Evolett in her post here

Goodness, what have you dug up?  I probably have to read over that thread to refresh my memory :D

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