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Det kvinnan fruktar mest hos mannen är hans tystnad medan det mannen fruktar mest hos kvinnan är alla hennes ord: En studie av kvinnligt maktanspråk inom den isländska sagalitteraturen
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Cultural Sciences.
2014 (Swedish)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesisAlternative title
That which women fearmost about men is their silence and that which men fear most about women is alltheir words. : A study of women’s claims to power in Icelandic sagas. (English)
Abstract [en]

My aim in this essay is to identify and explain the claims to power that women possessed and were able to wield over other individuals by examining women as a instigators of violence in the Icelandic saga literature. I sought to build upon the previous research on women's representation in the saga literature by further identifying and explaining the power of women. By using qualitative narrative analysis with an approach closely related to content analysis, I searched six Icelandic sagas of different character and featured the identified intrigues in a summary manner. The questions referred to the material are: 

- Which expressions show that women's actions are a founding reason for men to engage in violence can be found in the material? 

- How do the female actors exercise power in Old Norse literature? 

In the light of works by Margaret Clunies Ross, Gro Steinlands, Birgit Sawyers and Jóhanna Katrín Fridriksdottirs and descriptions of women in the Viking Age context with the Norse religion combined with the theoretical starting points from John RP French, Bertram Raven and Sylvia Walby I have answered the questions of the study. The female characters’ claims to power found in the literature were found to be verbally based, in accordance with previous research, and therefore found in social interactions with other individuals. 

The result shows that women’s power is established in five different power bases: reward, coercive, legitimate, reference and expertise, where coercion and expertise were the most prominent and frequently reproduced forms of power in the material. The descriptions of the woman's claims to power can demonstrate (1) that the woman had a powerful position in the Viking Age context, (2) highlighted as a cause of disorder which man must sort out - and then appears as the sovereign, (3) a Christian tendency and function as propaganda against paganism. But one of the most interesting and important aspects that this study highlights is that women's actions can be seen as destructive as they are a leading cause of violence in many cases, but the women do not always do this in pure malice, although malice may be present in some intrigue. Several women seem to have a constructive motive as they often want the family to escape the shame and instead perform great deeds which generate honor - which is the moral system that is found in paganism. By understanding women's motives in this way, one can understand that they want to achieve good even if it sometimes requires violent actions. These actions can also be viewed differently than in our modern societies which are characterized by a different mentality towards violence than was the case in Viking society.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. , 33 p.
Keyword [sv]
Kvinnor, Maktanspråk, Social interaktion, Isländska sagor, Fornnordisk kultur, Vikingatiden
National Category
Religious Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-35520OAI: diva2:728122
Subject / course
Religious Studies
Educational program
Lärarprogrammet, inriktning mot verksamhet i grundskolans senare år och gymnasiet
Available from: 2014-07-02 Created: 2014-06-23 Last updated: 2014-07-02Bibliographically approved

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