‘House of the Dragon’: Exploring the Symbolism of the White Hart and Wild Boar

House of the Dragon Episode 3 centered around a hunt in honor of Aegon Targaryen‘s second name day and the search for a white hart. The episode is full of symbolism as King Viserys is faced with difficult decisions about the future of his kingdom. The illusive white hart and wild boar may have more significance than they seem.

[Spoiler Alert: This article contains spoilers for House of the Dragon Season 1 Episode 3.]

King Viserys hunts for the white hart in House of the Dragon Episode 3.
Paddy Considine as King Viserys in ‘House of the Dragon’ | Ollie Upton/HBO

King Viserys and his men search for a white hart in ‘House of the Dragon’ Episode 3

Episode 3 of House of the Dragon jumps forward to Aegon’s second name day. Now that the prince has survived infancy, many people expect King Viserys to name Aegon his heir. Notably, Viserys refuses, even reassuring Rhaenyra that no one will usurp her place.

Regardless, King Viserys seems more concerned with the hunt and consuming as much wine as possible. The next day, the king and his men are on the hunt for a white hart, aka an adult male deer, that has reportedly been sighted in the area.

The King’s Hand, Otto Hightower, stated that the white hart would be a “regal portent for Prince Aegon’s name day.” It’s also later mentioned that the animal symbolized royalty before the dragons ruled over Westeros. Otto suggests that killing the creature on Aegon’s name day could signify the gods showing him their favor.

Rhaenyra kills a boar, while Viserys struggles to stab a deer

Unfortunately for little Aegon, King Viserys and his men find only an average brown deer. Viserys also struggles to kill the animal with the spear gifted to him by Jason Lannister. “Paddy [Considine] is such a committed actor, and watching him, it was like he was really going through it,” Jefferson Hall, who plays Jason, told Variety.

“I remember thinking, ‘God, this guy’s got a lot on his plate, and the pressure that he’s under is crippling.’ The way he uses the spear and then hands it back to Jason is quite poignant.” Meanwhile, Rhaenyra runs off into the woods with Ser Criston Cole. When a wild boar attacks the pair, the princess stabs the creature with all the strength her father lacks.

Boars are sometimes thought to symbolize bravery, something Rhaenyra is certainly not lacking. This moment is also the culmination of all the pressure and anger that has been mounting for the Princess. “The boar attack is the boiling over of Rhaenyra’s frustration in the episode, and she takes out all of her aggressions about everything on the boar,” said co-showrunner Ryan Condal during a featurette.

Rhaenyra spots the white hart at the end of the episode

It’s also worth noting that while Viserys and his men never find the white hart in House of the Dragon Episode 3, it does appear to Rhaenyra. If the white hart symbolizes who the gods favor to rule over Westeros, it looks like Rhaenyra won that honor.

Rhaenyra also showed her restraint and respect for the animal by ordering Criston not to kill it while still covered with the boar’s blood. Rhaenyra’s actions seem to suggest that as a ruler, she would know the appropriate time to fight, as well as the appropriate time to show mercy.

House of the Dragon airs Sunday nights at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.

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