A Game of Thrones Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

A Game of Thrones Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

House sigils

Each house is attributed a certain sigil or particular symbol that has the function of differentiating one house from another. Some houses use mythological animals on their sigils. For example, House Stark’s sigil is a direwolf while Targeryan’s symbol is a dragon. While this may characterize a group of people from a certain part of Westeros, sigils also characterize individual characters. For example, House Tully uses as its symbol a leaping silver fish. The symbol is personalized by Brandon, the eldest son of the House Tully who was also considered as being the black sheep of the family, when he chooses to have a black fish instead of a silver one on his armour and shield.

Crows and ravens

Another symbol frequently found in Game of Thrones is the use of crows and ravens. The members of the Night’s Watch are called crows because of their black clothing but crows are also associated with wisdom. When Bran starts having prophetic dreams, his mentor is a crow with three eyes. The third eye is generally associated with clairvoyance and the ability to see what other people don’t. Bran’s spiritual awakening is associated with the three eyed crow which at one point, advices Bran to fly and promises him that even if he won’t be able to walk, he will fly. The crow most likely referred to a metaphorical way a flying, a method that will allow Bran to see further than the others.


Dreams have sometimes a prophetic value in the book. In the case of Daenerys, she dreams about her dragons and about being in a fire but not really getting burnt which later proves to be true. Another character that has multiple prophetic dreams is Bran. For him, the dreams start during the time when he is in a comatose state after his fall. The three-eyed crow serves as a mentor in this time and makes prophecies about how Bran’s life will be. The characters in the book have different opinions about the power of dreams. The rational side, the learned people like Maester Luwin dismiss Bran’s visions as being only dreams while Osha, a wildling from the other side of the Wall believes that what Bran sees has a deeper meaning. This also shows two types of thinking, a rational one, based on facts, and a slightly superstitious, mystical one that comes from a harsh land where everything is possible.

Summer and winter

In the world created by J.R.R. Martin, seasons last a lot longer than in the real world. As a result, summer can last for years and the same thing can be said about winters. But often, when summer and winter are mentioned, they are closely linked to the age of a certain character and his maturity. Bran, for example, is called a’’ sweet summer child’’ indicating that he has yet to come of age and that he has lived a relatively easy life. At the Wall, Jon and the new recruits still smell of summer according to those who are older in the Night’s Watch, that is to say that they are unprepared to face the dangers behind the Wall and inexperienced. It is clear that throughout the book, summer is considered as being representative for childhood while the winter season, harsher and ruthless, is maturity. Eddard connects these ideas when he links the ends of summer with the end of childhood. It is clear then that in the book, the seasons have a symbolic value.

The Iron Throne

Power and influence is always linked with the Iron Throne. The person who sits on the Iron Throne is the person ruling over the Seven Kingdoms, representing the regal power. In other works of literature, the power possessed by the King is represented by the Crown the king wears. In Game of Thrones however, when characters think about the person ruling, they think about the person sitting on the Iron Throne. The idea that the Throne represents power is illustrated by the feelings experienced by Eddard Stark when he sees Jamie Lannister sitting on the Iron Throne after Jamie killed the Mad King. Eddard takes this as the intention of taking the power for himself and this incident influences the way Eddard regards the Lannister family from that point on. The Throne is uncomfortable for the person sitting on it but also dangerous. It can be said that the Throne is also a visual representation of the way Kingdoms are formed; build on the ruins of former kings.

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