Analysis of the Main Character in Sigurd the Volsung

What kind of person is Sigurd?

Sigurd is a legendary hero who won an accursed hoard of gold and got married to a princess. He is the main character in the Volsunga saga and a hero of Norse mythology. He was adopted by  Regin as a foster father who later sent him to recover a tremendous hoard of gold (Antony). Originally, this treasure was owned by Regin’s father who got it from Andvari the dwarf. Sigurd was a warrior who engaged in lots of fights in the best interest of those who were close to him. He avenged the death of Regin and Hreidmar by slaying Fafnir who had been turned into a dragon. He is labelled a hero after he faces serious wars and conspiracies including an attempt murder by Regin, his foster father.

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What tests of character confront him?

Sigurd is confronted by various tests of characters which he assumes in the course of his survival. He portrays the character of a killer whose intentions are to protect himself and the people around him. In the process he kills various characters in Volsunga saga. Regin becomes a liability to Sigurd when he becomes corrupted and plans for the death of Sigurd. The birds then advise Sigurd to kill Regin whom he cuts off his head. Again, Sigurd avenges the death of Regin and Hreidmar by killing Fafnir. Sigurd believes in the dreams of his late father Sigmund. When confronted with the decision to avenge his father’s death, he order Regin to make a sword out of the sword fragments left by his father. Sigurd is later confronted with the decision to marry. He develops a soft spot for Brynhild who is also admired by Gudrun. Brynhild  walks into a flame and she promises that the man who will get her out of the flame will marry her. Sigurd takes the risk and marries Brynhild which again results to a lot of controversies. Lastly, Sigurd is faced with the test to reclaim his homeland. He fabricates a sword from the fragments of his father sword and calls it Gram. He moves to reclaim his father’s fortune which he successfully reclaims.

To what extent does he pass them?

The determination of Sigurd helps him to successfully pass the tests of characters that confront him. The passion to accomplish the desires of his heart drives him to personally confront the tests of time and fulfill the needs of his own survival. The extent to which he passes the tests are satisfactory. For instance, when he kills Faifnir, he drinks his blood and realizes he has the ability to understand the language of the birds. The birds then tell him that Regin has a plan to kill him and he acts swiftly by getting him killed. He then eats Faifnirs heart and gains wisdom. He also succeeds to marry Brynhild despite being subjected to the test of riding his horse through the flame. He satisfactorily gets Brynhild out of the flame and ends up marrying her against the will of Gudrun.

Which temptations does he resist, and which does he find irresistible?

 Sigurd is faced with temptations which he finds difficult to resist. The first temptation comes after he kills Faifnir in the avenge mission of his father’s death.  He licks the drop of Faifnir’s blood on his hand and mysteriously begins to understand the language of the birds. He listens to the conversation of the birds and realizes that Regin, his foster father, has a plan to have him killed. This is where his first temptation comes. And he finds it irresistible. He kills Regin and drinks his blood. He then would steal the rings of Fafnir and ride in his firm to steal his treasures.

Sigurd makes a trip to Rhine River, south of the kingdom to meet King Giuki. The queen on seeing Sigurd and the wealth, influence and fame that awaits him, decides to drug him and this results to a state of amnesia where he forgets everything about Brynhild. After gaining conscience, the queen convinces the king to offer to their daughter to Sigurd for marriage. This is another temptation that Sigurd finds himself unable to resist. He then accepts the offer and marries Gudrun the princess.

How does the role of magic in this epic affect his characterization?

Magic affects the Sigurd’s characterization by transforming him into something he is not. After his visit to the King’s palace, he takes Gunnar and they both ride to Hindfell in pursuit of Brynhild. Upon arrival, the encounter a ring of fire surrounding Brynhild and Gunnar is scared of crossing through. Sigurd has no idea what to do, Gunnar teaches Sigurd how to transform his shape to resemble Gunnar. This is magic right there. Sigurd gains the courage to pass through the fire to save Brynhild. They both marry and move to the castle while both in the shape of Gunnar. Sigurd’s characterization is therefore affected by the magic of Gunnar and it even indicates change in character.

How does his behavior affect his heroic image?

Sigurd’s behavior reinforces his heroic image. He becomes an icon of his own deeds that defines the true personality that he exhibits. In as much as he is easily influenced by other people’s decisions, the behavior he extols justifies his heroic actions for example when he cunningly slays the dragon by digging a ditch as a trap for the dragon (Ryan). However, he also assumes a weak personality when he transforms to Gunnar and rescues Brynhild. Whereas the act of saving Brynhild from the flames is heroic, the consequent decision to move to the castle with her shows some kind of weakness in him as a result of manipulation. He therefore becomes a victim of manipulation; a trait that waters down his heroic image. However, the influence of his instincts in the things he does is impressive because he the only thing he finds himself unable to resist is temptation. The decision to avenge his father’s death and reclaim his homeland and a younger age is a heroic move justified by his undying desire to get his fortune and what rightfully belongs to him.

How does Sigurd’s behavior and experiences connect to modern-day society?

The contemporary society is driven by assertion and the need for survival. The existing state of nature demands survival techniques which connect to Sigurd’s behavior and experiences. Sigurd’s learns to survive as young boy with a foster father who nurtures him into a brave man. Everything he does in some type of way seeks to satisfy his needs. For instance, he kills people along the way in order to reclaim his fortune. This is the undying spirit that the contemporary world extols-the fighting spirit in pursuit of our own destinies.

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