This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

The Nibelungenlied, Njal’s Saga And Beowulf: The Changing Definition Of Masculinity

3980 words - 16 pages

The medieval Germanic cultures described in The Nibelungenlied, Njal’s Saga and Beowulf, place a great deal of importance on using courage and prowess in battle to determine masculinity. In many ways, modern society still values the idea of expressing masculinity through physical activity. The current stereotype of a masculine man is an athlete, a man who competes in often violent sports to establish his status relative to other men. However, sports are situational activities, scheduled deviations from normal living. So, in a society that strives to be free of violence, how does the modern man establish his masculinity? It would seem that he channels his violent tendencies into socially acceptable areas or develops other indicators of masculinity.
The modern judicial system emasculates men much in the same way Skarp-Hedin was humiliated in chapter 119 of Njal’s Saga. Skarp-Hedin endured insults to his appearance, character and status, responding only with words, rather than violence, because he was aware of his status as the subordinate party in that situation. He was unable to respond in his desired manner (violence) because he needed allegiance from the chieftains who were humiliating him. He recognized their ability to choose whether to support his case as a power they held over his life. Thus, he also recognized his inability, given the situation, to react with physical force. The modern judicial system holds a similar, but greater power than this over the modern man. Such strict penalties have been established for murder and other violent crimes that modern men have realized that they are incapable of acting violently without essentially forfeiting their lives. Similar to Skarp-Hedin’s experience with the chieftains, the modern man is in a subordinate position to the judicial branch of the government. The judicial system creates a state where certain behaviours, be they violent or lewd, are prohibited and transgressions come with such severe punishments that they often deter violent crime; for example twenty-five years to life imprisonment or capital punishment for first degree murder. The knowledge of these consequences colours the interactions of the people living under those laws. It also asserts a force that shifts societal values away from supporting or even condoning breaches of the law, further strengthening the unacceptability of violence in modern society.
Societal values shifted away from violent retribution perhaps as a result of a strengthening of governmental systems and the harsh penalties imposed on rule-breakers or perhaps as a result of the spread of Christianity. Either way, this created a modern society averse to violence and established governmental and religious organisations as the enforcers of modern behaviour. Thus, the Justice Department and the Church can be viewed as institutionalised forms of the chieftains that humiliated Skarp-Hedin, in that they dictate the manner in which one can act....

Find Another Essay On The Nibelungenlied, Njal’s Saga and Beowulf: The Changing Definition of Masculinity

The Chronicles of Riddick Saga Essay

1181 words - 5 pages The Chronicles of Riddick saga overview The Chronicles of Riddick is a science fiction franchise, spanning from movies, videos games, animation, and motion comics. The series chronicles the anti-hero Richard B. Riddick (Vin Diesel) life in the 28th century. The Saga created “Pitch Black” was release, and gained popularity in 2004. "Pitch Black" was an entertaining, sci-fi/horror mash up that boasted it’s R-rating as well as the newest addition

Saga of the Volsungs Breakdown Essay

1404 words - 6 pages The Saga of the Volsungs: The Norse Epic of Sigurd the Dragon Slayer      In his translation of The Saga of the Volsungs: the Norse Epic of Sigurd the Dragon Slayer, Jesse L. Byock compiles many versions of this famous Norse epic and creates a very important scholarly work. Of special importance is the introduction, which provides a central working background to base readings upon. There are several themes echoed

The Responsibility to Protect: The Changing Definition of Human Rights and the Ability to Protect Global Citizens

1214 words - 5 pages Liz PecanANTH 01211/3/2013Essay 2Section 404Colonization and Industrialization:The overall effect on GlobalizationThroughout history, various powers have expanded and exerted control onto what they deem to be lesser civilizations. As the world continues to change and grow, the impact of past formative processes continues to be seen in the current globalized world. There is a growing literature for the last few decades on globalization and on its

Analysis of the Epic Poem, Beowulf - Beowulf and Caedmon’s Hymn

2319 words - 9 pages Beowulf and Caedmon’s Hymn        In Beowulf the Christian element, which coexists alongside the pagan or heathen, may have originated in part from the works of Caedmon. The Christian element in Beowulf had to be included by the original poet or by minstrels who recited it in later times because it is so deeply imbedded in the text. The extent to which the Christian element is present varies in different parts of the poem. While the

Oppression and Depression: The Effects of White Masculinity

2823 words - 11 pages Oppression and Depression: The Effects of White Masculinity In Peter N. Stearns’ book Be a Man! he cites Nichols, Pleck and Sawyer as he makes the assertion that “Macho man, artificially and oppressively virile, asserts himself over hapless women and in fields of aggression ranging from big business to war, from raising of sons to the domestic cloistering of wives” (Nichols, Pleck and Sawyer). White men in America throughout history have

Masculinity in The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale

2391 words - 10 pages Masculinity in The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale      The Wife of Bath, with the energy of her vernacular and the voraciousness of her sexual appetite, is one of the most vividly developed characters of 'The Canterbury Tales'. At 856 lines her prologue, or 'preambulacioun' as the Summoner calls it, is the longest of any of the pilgrims, and matches the General Prologue but for a few lines. Evidently Chaucer is infatuated with

Case Study: The Saga of the Great Apes

2782 words - 11 pages The Saga of the Great ApesThe decimation of the great apes who once flourished in the jungles and forests of the Congo is a microcosm of the broader crisis that extends to other species of the primates across the African continent. Essentially undisturbed throughout history until halfway through the 20th century, the primates’ populations remained healthy and in sufficient numbers to assure the continuation of their species into the future

Giants in the Earth: A Saga of the Prairie

1948 words - 8 pages Colorado beautifully and wonderfully in the pages of a book, which I thought Giants in the Earth did well too. The Plains of America are some of the most interesting places in the world in my mind, especially in the pioneer times, that I love reading anything about them, granted that it is historical fiction. I could not have been more pleased with the setting of this story. Works Cited Dickens, Charles, Hablot Knight Browne, and Frederick Barnard. A Tale of Two Cities. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1942. Print. Rølvaag, O. E., and Lincoln Colcord. Giants in the Earth: A Saga of the Prairie. New York: Harper, 1927. Print.

KiranDesai’s The Inheritance of Loss: A Saga of Human Relations

3364 words - 13 pages discriminations in respect to the changing pattern of human relations. This, also, shows how human relations, even as influenced by love, longing and crosscultural contacts, are competently handled in a humane manner articulating diasporic experiences of nostalgia and in-betweeness. Kiran Desai, as the youngest woman to receive the coveted Man Booker Prize, was born in Chandigarh, India on September 3, 1971. Spending her early years in Pune and Mumbai

Women in The Laxdaela Saga

696 words - 3 pages Women in the Laxdaela Saga      Men and women interact and make the world go around every single day. The idea of one gender being more important is very difficult to judge because men and women contribute equally and in different ways. The Laxdaela Saga is no exception to the interaction of men and women; much of the story depends upon these relationships. Although in medieval times women did not play a large role in

Beowulf and The Dragon

1162 words - 5 pages . On the other hand, physical strength is very different, but still plays a vital role in the definition of fortitude. This type of strength is easily influenced by the individual. It is how much work a person can actually do or how much physical power that individual has. Beowulf clearly has this type of strength. He demonstrates it by literally tearing Grendel’s arm out from his body and crushing his claws (Beowulf 50). To be able to

Similar Essays

Changing The Meaning Of Masculinity Essay

1401 words - 6 pages Changing the Meaning of Masculinity Why are men so sensitive when it comes to their masculinity? This question came to me when I began reading the introduction of this section on sex. I believe that men are pushed into a social stereotype just like women are. They are told how to act, when to cry, and when to be tough from a very young age. These traits are not only bestowed upon them by their parents, but by movies, music and government of

A Comparison Of Christian Influence On Beowulf And The Saga Of King Hrolf Kraki

2881 words - 12 pages Christian Influence on Beowulf and The Saga of King Hrolf Kraki        In Beowulf the Christian influence is revealed through approximately 70 passages in which the form of expression or the thought suggests Christian usage or doctrine (Blackburn 3); The Saga of King Hrolf Kraki is in its own way infused with Christian values even though it preserves remnants of the cult of Odin.   The Christian element seems to be too deeply

The Changing Definition Of Jihad Essay

1996 words - 8 pages used a favorable definition and interpretation of Jihad in order to unite the Muslims and create a massive army to defend Islam from the Christian Crusaders. In order to completely understand the word, its origins, and its uses, the original passages from the Qur’an must be analyzed and interpreted. Islam, as a faith, is supposed to be peaceful and preaches inner strength. Violence of any kind is in direct contradiction to the teachings of

Beowulf And Grettir's Saga Essay

3762 words - 15 pages Beowulf and Grettir's Saga IN THE DEAD OF THE NIGHT, someone or something, is murdering the local townsfolk. As fate provides, a stranger marches into the local bar announcing his intention to kill the menacing outlaw. The fiend returns to the scene of his crimes, and, as predicted, the outsider fights and mortally wounds the brute, which limps off to a hidden lair. The hero and his comrade(s) track the wounded villain to an underwater cave