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The White Hart Symbolism And How It Predicts Everything That Happens In House Of The Dragon and Game Of Thrones

Courtesy of a compelling rogue prince played perfectly by Matt Smith and a handful of other really good performances, namely Milly Alcock as young Princess Rhaenyra and the most unexpected delight, Rhys Ifans’ Ser Otto Hightower, HBO’s spin-off is a huge hit. Seriously, never in a thousand years did I think “The Leg” from The Replacements would be this fun a villain. Family drama and portentous signs swirled everywhere in House of the Dragon Episode 3. But unfortunately, those ominous warnings from the White Hart were largely ignored by those who should have been paying the most attention.

If anyone was on the fence about King Viseyrs, those questions should have been answered by Episode 3. He is not a good King. He’s not cruel or more greedy than any other royal; however, he is unfit to sit on the throne. This is a fact even the Iron Throne itself has declared, as it seems to cut him every time he engages with it. He is passive to a fault and makes rash decisions that anyone could see would be a mistake. Almost everyone thinks he should rescind his succession of the throne and proclaim young Prince Aegon the next in line. The harder they push, the deeper he sticks his head in the sand. By the end of a terrible episode for him, he doubled down on his daughter, but he’s just avoiding making any real decisions.

Ser Otto wants his two-year-old grandchild married off to his half-sister (yuck), and everyone else has ideas about who and what Rhaenyra should do. As badly as she wants to be respected as a leader, the only thing anyone takes seriously is her marriage potential. While she is deflecting ridiculous suitors, King Viserys is embarrassingly hunting stags. The White Hart was rumored to be seen in the woods near the royal event, and the King would love to shore up his waning strength in the realm. Unfortunately, his men only find a regular stag and have to hold him for Viserys to accomplish anything. It is a devastating scene that demonstrates just how weak the King is. Surprising to no one, it is Rhaenyra to whom the White Hart presents itself, and she chooses to let the beast live.

White Hart
Courtesy of HBO

Everybody loves a good omen or two. Rhaenyra’s encounter with the white stag and the King’s inept attempt at navigating politics and killing the stag are ominous warnings about the future. House Targaryen is in trouble, and the white stag knows it. It seems like the stag is saying it isn’t too late to right the ship, however. Too bad no one listens. Here is everything you need to know about the White Hart, white stag symbolism in House of the Dragon, and how it lays the groundwork for the Targaryen’s fall and Dany’s eventual death in Game of Thrones.

The symbolism of the White Hart or the White Stag Explained

Instead of the mighty animal being a tribute for Aegon on his nameday, The White Hart presents itself to Rhaenyra and Ser Criston. Unbeknownst to Ser Otto, who is telling everyone who will listen that the animal’s appearance is proof that Aegon should be next in line to be King, the white hart made another arguably better choice. The White Hart in Martin’s books represented royalty, strength, and nobility. Before the Targaryen’s ruled with their dragons, the stags were the most potent animals around. Because the animals were so rare, those who successfully hunted one were considered almost divine.

It is heavily implied that they were considered magical. Therefore, if one were killed during Aegon’s party, it would clearly signal he should be the next King. By confronting Rhaenyra, the stag was declaring her the rightful heir to the crown. Since we know from Game Of Thrones lore that Aegon II becomes queen and marries his full sister Helaena, it seems the stag’s wishes go ignored.

The symbolism of the white stag is seen in so many places from literary references in things like Arthurian legend and Native American spirituality. The Native Americans believe the white stag symbolizes supernaturalness and purity, both fundamental traits the Targaryens coveted. The stag could never be caught in Arthurian legend and represented a spiritual journey toward enlightenment. King Richard II used the animal on his official seal from 1377 to 1399.

Why Are We All So Hot For The House Of The Dragon’s Daemon Targaryen?

In House of the Dragon Episode 3, the White Hart and the Iron Throne are the same things. Princess Rhaenyra doesn’t have to seek it out. It comes to her. She also doesn’t use violence to claim it. Instead, she chooses to let it go recognizing its power and respect. The same is not true for unsuspecting Price Aegon. As much as outside influences would like to say a sighting of the mythical beast is a sign that Aegon should be the next King, it is nothing more than spin. The little Prince had plenty of capable hunters looking for the stag to give to Aegon and Viserys, but it was Rhaenyra who saw him.

Not only is the Iron Throne rejecting Viserys, but it appears the White Hart is colluding with a higher power and choosing Princess Rhaenyra to sit in power. Maybe if the Princess had been allowed to claim her throne instead of dying during a nasty civil war between her and Aegon years later, things could have been different for the Targaryens.

Unfortunately, it is one more example of an old boys club that seeks to keep women down. As much as I loved Daenerys and believed she was done dirty by the writers in the final episodes of GOT, everything was foreshadowed by the White Hart and the Iron Throne that tried to tell everyone that Aegon II should not be King. It should be a woman on the throne. That woman should have been hundreds of years before Dany. It should have been Rhaenyra’s seat to rule from.

House of the Dragon is on HBO every Sunday night.