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The Viking sagas use an incredible deal of symbolism and irony. They also pay a great deal of attention to ones actions rather than ones words. In the story of Frothi, the king that defeated his brother in a devastating fire, there is a character Regin, who demonstrates great symbolism. Regin is an ideal character who is true to himself and being a good person.
When he attempts to do all that is right, he helps the boys out of the woods and back to their proper social status. Then Regin turned his horse in their direction a second time, frowning as though he would attack them there and then. Regin's actions guide the boys back towards the hall where he hints to them that they are to set it on fire. Once the fire is set, Regin helps them to defeat the king, without actually killing him himself. King Frothi turned away from the door to the mouth of his underground hiding-place, hoping to escape so to the woods and save his life. but when he came underground there was Regin facing him, and none too peaceful looking either.
Here, Regin's actions are noted as honest and true as well as symbolic. He did not physically take the life of the king, yet by standing in his way, symbolically saved the boys and destroyed the reign of king Frothi. It was also noted that Regin warned the king. While he can be seen as someone who tries to play both sides, I see Regin as a strong character that is loyal to himself and what should be.
Frothi's dream of going to hell is also symbolic, as he can see his own death coming. This symbolism is important because it is ironic and lets the reader know what is going to happen before it actually does, yet it does not destroy the suspense. Irony comes into play when King Frothi himself dies by fire. It is ironic because in the beginning, he came into power by taking over the throne and having his brother burned. I think that the most influential character however, in the Viking sagas is Queen Yrsa. As terrible past, named after a dog and innocently married to her father then off to an awful king, she displays great influence and power.
While she is not a brute or a queen of bloodshed, she at times is seen to be more powerful that King Athilis. She is the driving force of many battles and is devious and cunning. While she is pure of heart and loyal to her true feelings, she knows how to manipulate and be the voice in king Athilis head. She openly threatens him and warns him that she will avenge her fathers death first change she gets. And for this same reason I shall never be loyal to you if you clash with king Helps kinsmen, I will contrive the death of your berserk's just as soon as I can, should there be any so brave as to do that for my sake and of their own prowess (pg 250). This the queen in fact does.
While it is later in the story at an unexpected time, she in fact takes the will of Svipdag and uses his enthusiasm and greatness to benefit herself. She first has him magnificently wipe out the berserk's, under the kings order and then assist the kings decision in the berserk's banishment. As they come to attack, the king puts Svipdag in charge and send the army out to defeat them. The queen has at this point managed to turn the berserk's against the king which they were once so loyal to, by replacing them with this Svipdag hero. She has managed to destroy the kings army under his own command. Years later when Svipdag joins up with King Half they meet up with King Athilis and eventually kill him, through cunning and deceit and the aid of Queen Yrsa.
She kept her promise and lives to know of the end of King Athilis. Bibliography:
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