Thorstein Man Iceland
Would a man in today's society reveal as much family and self honor as the heroic Iceland Saga character, Thorstein? The saga of “Thorstein the Staff-Struck” is a work of prose that reveals the history of an honorable family of the Norse religion that has been handed down through oral tradition. There are many examples of the Iceland warrior culture of the Middle Ages in this short saga which range from family honor to bravery to heroism and to good versus evil.
First of all, family honor was very much a way of life in Iceland during the Middle Ages. Thorstein is struck by a staff by Thord and Thorstein requested that his father not be notified and eventually word got around to Thorstein's father, Thorarin. Since, a Viking was expected to avenge such an act; Thorarin was disappointed in his son. Thorstein tried to get Thor to say that it was an accident but Thor would not do so; therefore, Thorstein had no choice to honor his family name by killing Thord. Thorstein tells his father of this. The father is pleased that Thorstein has maintained the family honor.
The next example of Iceland culture of the Middle Ages is the act of a man's bravery. Bravery was usually shown through the acts of fighting but the bravery in this story seems to be shadowed in the fact that Thorstein gave Thord the chance to keep his won honor but Thord did not see it that way at all. Thorstein also showed his bravery when he refused to move away from his father and his horses. He was not afraid to face whatever was put in front of him because he had his father and honor to think about no matter how he felt emotionally. This is an act of a brave Iceland warrior protecting his family and territory. His father is the man that has carried on the family name and he remains brave in order to protect his father and their family heritage at all cost.
Thorstein proves himself a hero when he kills the two men sent by the chieftain, Bjarni, in order to avenge the death of Thor. The two men that Bjarni sent, Thorhall and Thorvald, were sent to keep his honor after he heard his workers talking about Thor's death not being avenged. After, three of Bjarni's men were killed by Thorstein, the real trouble began. A woman, Bjarni's wife, named RaRanneveig starts to nag and pick at Bjarni for not avenging the death of not one but three of his workers. Bjarni does this by going to avenge their deaths himself. He wants to be the hero in his workers and wife's eyes. He can only do this by killing Thorstein or being killed himself. Even if he is killed during the fight, he will still die a hero because he was proving who he was as a man.
Good versus evil is a very prominent cultural trait in this saga from Iceland. Thorstein tries to be good by giving Thor a chance to say that he struck him by accident but Thor refused to do this so therefore Thorstein was only acting out of goodness when he avenged his family honor when he killed Thor. Thorstein was also showing his goodness when he was fighting with Bjarni. It would have been highly unusual, in my own opinion, that a fight between two such strong and honorable men would require or produce so many breaks for rest or drink and food. Thorstein seemed to be showing signs of his goodness compared to sheer evil and just pouncing on his prey or enemy.
Thorstein also displayed his goodness when holds back his strength in the fight. When Bjarni realizes this then he offers Thorstein a way out with honor. Bjarni agrees to let Thorstein work for him since Thorstein a hard worker and Thorstein agrees to this. Thorarin believes that Thorstein is dead and since he has no one to take care of him he wants to battle with Bjarni since he knows he will probably die in the process. It was believed in this culture that if you died while fighting that you would die an honorable man and go to Valhalla.
Today's society varies in heroic deeds and family honor today. Everyone has their own idea of what is right and wrong for themselves and their families. Are we really that different than the culture I have discussed in the saga of “Thorstein the Staff-Struck”? Family honor, human bravery, heroic acts, and temptations of good versus evil display themselves in this anonymous work of literature we call a saga from the Middle Ages in Iceland that has been handed down through oral tradition and written down many years later.
Article name: Thorstein Man Iceland essay, research paper, dissertation