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Njal's Saga Essay

1686 words - 7 pages

Njal’s Saga is a long and epic tale of jealousy, treachery, and manipulation. The previous book that we read, The Nibelungenlied, also featured these similar plot elements. Njal’s Saga contains several characters that have close similarities to those in The Nibelungenlied. In The Nibelungenlied, there is a mighty fighter named Siegfried. As a proven warrior, Siegfried possesses great strength and an ego that is equally as great. Halfway through the story, Siegfried is betrayed by an ally and left to die. In Njal’s Saga, there is also a powerful fighter named Gunnar. Gunnar uses his physical prowess to kill enemies that ambush him. Not only do these two characters have similar personalities, but they also suffer a similar fate and die midway through their respective stories. These two share many of the same qualities with each other as well as with modern day heroes in the media. However, when comparing Gunnar’s and Siegfried’s traits and relationships, it is evident that they are both not heroes; they are simply flawed, arrogant characters that are ultimately responsible for their own deaths.
Of the numerous qualities that are shared by both Gunnar and Siegfried, one is that they are both good looking, and well dressed individuals. The archetypal hero can be anyone from Superman to Chuck Norris. Heroes such as these tend to be rugged and manly - qualities that appeal to any possible mate. In The Nibelungenlied, Siegfried possesses “handsome looks, so that women of great beauty came to love him” (Hatto 20) He is always “dressed in elegant clothes” (Hatto 20). In chapters where Siegfried is the main character, there is always a description of his magnificent attire. His beautiful robes, tall stature, and distinguished features all make him above average in appearance. In Njal’s Saga, Gunnar is also said to be very “handsome and fair of skin” (Cook 35). These qualities lead readers to believe that the characters Siegfried and Gunnar are the heroes of their stories, but despite their handsomeness and good looks, they both die miserable deaths at the hands of their enemies.
The heroes in the media tend to always win the heart of a lovely female character, whether it is Lois Lane for Superman or Mary Jane Watson for Spiderman. These women also tend to be defenseless and require their men to save them when they are kidnapped or in danger. As the manly, attractive figures in their respective stories, Siegfried and Gunnar attract the attention of two very attractive women named Kriemhild and Hallgerd. There are few couples that can match Siegfried and Kriemhild. Kriemhild is a “beautiful woman, causing many knights to lose their lives” (Hatto 17). Siegfried and Kriemhild are both born into royal families; Siegfried is “a royal prince... son of Siegmund and Sieglind” (Hatto 20) and Kriemhild is “a maiden of high lineage, so fair that none in any land could be fairer” (Hatto 17). Similarly, Gunnar is “very well off for property” (Cook 35) and Hallgerd is...

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