Symbolism In Bear & The Maiden Fair

In the ‘A Song Of Ice & Fire’ series, this song is a racy, raunchy and humorous song popular among the common people as well as highborns. It describes in an amusing tone the story of a hairy bear that rescues a maiden whilst with three boys and a goat but she was hoping for a knight. It is sung: at a harvest feast at Winterfell, Greatjon Umber sings it as The Red Wedding and it is sung by The Brotherhood Without Banners on the road.

‘The Bear Of The Maiden Fair’ is a song that mirrors the relationships between several characters; Sandor ‘The Hound’ Clegane & Sansa Stark, Jorah Mormont & Daenerys Targaryen and Brienne Of Tarth & Jaime ‘Kingslayer’ Lannister. Sandor, Jorah & Brienne symbolize “the Bear” who literally or figuratively saves the “Maiden Fair”. Jorah saves Dany from assassins, Sandor saves Sansa from rapers but Brienne saves Jaime from Stark bannerman but then it is flipped when Jaime saves Brienne from being eaten by a bear at Harrenhal. After Jaime loses his hand at Harrenhal, the unattractive Brienne prevents Jaime from suicide and navigates him on the path to redemption. Both these characters have played the bear and the maiden.


The song’s importance to Jorah & Dany is emphasized due to a grizzly bear being the sigil of House Mormont and that fair skin and hair are common features of House Targaryen. In ‘A Game of Thrones’, Sansa Stark is besotted with the idea of a handsome prince or knight in shining armour. These are archetypes which she believes are conveyed by Ser Loras Tyrell and Joffrey Baratheon. Strangely, when Joffrey orders one of his Kingsguard to beat her, it is not the stereotypical handsome knight but the deformed disfigured Sandor Clegane who comes to her aid. This goes against all literary social norms within the fantasy genre. It is always the handsome knight in shining armour that saves the fair maiden, especially in the conventional fairy tales.