Roses play a huge part in the Beauty & the Beast fairy tale (indeed Robin McKinley’s adaptation is called Rose Daughter): in the fairy-tale, Beauty’s father, once rich, has lost all of his wealth and he and his three daughters live in modest circumstances. He receives word that one of his ships has come in to harbor, and, in the hopes of recovering any of his wealth, goes to town to meet it; his two older daughters ask for rich presents, but Beauty asks only for a rose as a gift. Unfortunately, the ship is not carrying much wealth and/or the wealth is seized or something, anyway, the father has no presents for anyone and nearly dies in a snowstorm on his way home until he finds refuge in a beautiful enchanted castle where he is richly fed and kept warm through the night and which also has a rose-garden. On his way out, Beauty’s father plucks the most beautiful rose he can find to give to his daughter; the Beast, the owner of the castle, who has so far kept out of sight, emerges, furious that Beauty’s father has taken his most precious possession and says that Beauty’s father must die. Dad argues that he didn’t know, and that he’s only taking the rose for his youngest daughter and then tells the whole sobstory to the Beast. The Beast agrees to let him go with gifts for his daughters, including the rose (which, in some versions, is immortal, never losing its petals.) Dad will return and face the Beast’s wrath after he gives the gifts to his daughters.
Beauty finds out about her father’s deal and substitutes herself for her father; the Beast is charmed by her, and she’s happy with him, but eventually she becomes homesick and begs leave of the Beast to return to her home for a visit. He agrees, but gives her either a mirror/the magical rose and tells her that she has only to look in the mirror or look at the rose and see whether it still has its petals to see how he fares. Beauty’s sisters, jealous of what appears to be her happy life with the Beast, convince her to stay with them longer than she had promised the Beast and she does so out of love for them, until one day she sees the Beast dying in the magic mirror he gave her (or, in some versions, the magical rose begins to shrivel and die.) Beauty is guilt-stricken and returns just in time to find the dying Beast, to whom she swears her love (she either cries, kisses him or both, and he is healed by her tears/kisses.)
Roses also play a huge role in the stories of Brienne and to a somewhat lesser degree, that of Sansa and Jon. (There's the crown of blue roses that Rhaegar gives Lyanna Stark at the tournament of Harrenhal, with such disastrous consequences; many people think Jon is the blue rose growing in a Wall of Ice that Dany sees in one of her visions in the House of the Undying in Qarth because it's very strongly hinted that Jon is the child of Rhaegar and Lyanna. At the Hand's Tournament in King's Landing, Sansa gets a rose from Loras Tyrell - the Knight of the Flowers - that is a sort of disguise for his real love for Renly Baratheon. The rose he gives to Sansa is a lie, but it comes just before she encounters Sandor Clegane - her own Beast, though he is a Hound, not a Lion - and hears the truth from him about his dreadful mutilation.)
Brienne also has a terrible, unhappy association with roses - when she was younger, Red Ronnet Connington was betrothed to her, and gave her a rose, telling her that this is all she will ever have of him. And the Roses of Highgarden - Margaery and Loras - take from her Renly, the man she first loves. In her dreams scattered through A Feast for Crows, Brienne dreams of that rose, but sometimes she dreams that it's Jaime who gives it to her (and in that version of her dream, she cuts of his hand); in part of the rose dream, she bites out her own tongue and spits out blood. This is not a happy thing for Brienne, but it's definitely a tie-in to the Beauty and the Beast symbolism.
Jaime (the Beast) who returns for Brienne (the Beauty) at Harrenhal, saving her from death after he sees her in the mirror of his dreams, being “almost a beauty/almost a knight” taking the role of two of the most significant people in his life, uniting the symbols of the two paths that Jaime could have chosen for himself, Cersei (beauty) and Arthur Dayne (knight). And then, in A Dance with Dragons, Brienne comes back for Jaime with what is almost certainly a lie, almost certainly at the behest of Lady Stoneheart who seeks Jaime's death is another mirror of the fairytale, where Beauty's sisters want the Beast to kill Beauty and/or die, so Beauty will no longer have the life they envy.
Brienne coming back to Jaime with a lie also to me is a mirror/change from the fairy-tale. (Beauty’s sisters want the Beast to kill her and/or die so Beauty will no longer have the life they envy.) We don't know what happened after Jaime left Pennytree with Brienne, whether she maintained the lie and betrayed Jaime, but up until now, Brienne mirror Jaime’s arc with hers - Jaime's word "sapphires" saved Brienne from being raped; Brienne's word "sword" saved Pod’s life and betrayed Jaime; Jaime left Brienne to her fate at Harrenhal; Brienne came back to Jaime to lead him to his fate; Jaime came back for Brienne and saved her life; Brienne will, I think, save Jaime's life with the truth, somehow. (And I plan a third part of this series with a discussion of truth and lies, centered around Jaime's misunderstood statement that what he seeks in a woman is innocence.)
I also want to mention a couple more things about roses, notoriously symbolic of, well, vaginas. Like, here, have this poem by William Blake called “The Sick Rose”:
O Rose thou art sick.“Bed of crimson joy”? “The dark secret love” of an “invisible worm”? Somehow I do not think we are talking about horticulture here anymore! So … roses = deeply symbolic of female parts -
The invisible worm,
That flies in the night
In the howling storm:
Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy
And … Not to turn this into my own version of the Vagina Monologues, but the mouths? The bloody mouths? Well, Freud thought mouths were symbolic of vaginas, and the blood is a pretty obvious metaphor for both menses and loss of virginity.
Accordingly, in ASOIAF, we get Brienne, who is a maid thanks to Jaime and thanks to biting off Vargo Hoat’s ear - the “Goat”, a symbol of sexual incontinence - and thanks to her prowess with a sword, who now dreams of biting her tongue out, filling her mouth with blood, to stop herself from saying the word “sword” so she will not condemn Jaime, the man who gave her a blood-red sword, and whose whore she’s accused of being. Could this collection of symbols, imagery and story progressions be any more clear on what this is leading to? I think not!
Jaime (Beast/Beauty) is going ensure that Brienne the Beauty/Beast is no longer the “Maid” of Tarth; roses, swords, bloody mouths are all screaming this. I just don’t think any of this implies he will go back to Cersei because I am 100% convinced he is not the valonqar (Margaery, Sansa or Arya is) and the strangling and tears are the Tears of Lys, also called the Strangler. If Jaime didn’t come back for Cersei before the Walk of Shame, he is not going to do so ever, ; that is their tragedy (she sent him away and then Brienne called him back to her.) Jaime chose Brienne over Cersei when he went back to Harrenhal and missed Joffrey's wedding; Jaime burned Cersei's letter begging for his help, but went with Brienne from Pennytree based on her lie - I think there will be a third time when Jaime chooses Brienne over Cersei as well: he has given up his sexual relationship with Cersei; I think he will start one with Brienne before the story is over. In the end, Beauty and the Beast are not a platonic friendship; they start off as uneasy antagonists and end as lovers. I think this is what will happen with Brienne the Beauty and Jaime the Beast.