Why Did Arya Go Blind?

Why Did Arya Go Blind?

How did Arya Stark become blind in the Game of Thrones Season 5 Finale? 

The House of Black and White and everything about it is shrouded in mystery, from The Faceless Men to the theme of Death to Arya going blind. Today we will be touching on the latter topic – how did Arya lose her vision? 

Arya went blind as an effect of wearing a face before being ready for it, before having completed her training and becoming “no-one”. Near the end of Season 5, Arya was still undergoing her training as a Faceless Man in the House of Black and White. Like most others, Arya became impatient and overconfident in her new skills and overplayed her hand. While undertaking one of her training assignments, which was to observe (only!), she spots Meryn Trant, a Lannister knight who, presumably, killed her dear first swordsmanship teacher, Syrio Forel. She disobeyed her mission and assassinated him by stabbing him repeatedly in the eyes and chest at the brothel after an ambush followed by a tough fight. 

Although she avenged her former teacher, she directly disobeyed her present ones, for which there had to be consequences. When she entered the House of Black and White to return the face she used for the ambush back on the wall, displeased Jaqen and the Waif confronted her because Arya had directly defied the Many-Faced God by killing someone whose killing was not ordered.

Resultantly, the Waif restrained Arya, and Jaqen pulled out a vial saying, “Only death can pay for life“. However, instead of poisoning Arya, Jaqen drank it and died. Arya was grief-stricken and mourned for her teacher, but shockingly the Waif revealed herself to be Jaqen. Bewildered, Arya repeatedly removed multiple faces from the dead Jaqen’s body, until she saw her own face. Arya’s eyes filled with white as she was rendered blind as punishment.

Arya killed someone she was not supposed to, using a face even when she was not worthy of it. Jaqen H’ghar told Arya,

“The faces are for no one. You are still someone. And to someone, the faces are as good as poison.”

In the book, Arya went blind after drinking a special potion given to her every day by the Kindly Man (her mentor at the House of Black and White, and the book equivalent of Jaqen). The blindness was part of her training, not a punishment – though it was implied that she had to suffer through it sooner than expected because she killed a man on her own (not Meryn Trant – a different character, under different circumstances). 

Additionally, in the books, donning a face also brought emotions and memories from the person it was taken from, so it makes sense that avoiding severe psychological or sensory side effects would be difficult. It was, therefore, necessary for Arya to complete her training and become “no one” before wearing a face. 

Arya was a naive, brave girl who underwent a massive transformation during her stay in Braavos – one that led her away from the path of revenge she chose for herself to that of righteousness and clarity. Having lost her sight, Arya could do a lot more besides ‘see’. The ability to ‘see’ had limited her powers of perception and true observation. With the new wisdom that followed, Arya not only acquired a keen sense of perception but also became headstrong and clear.