Study Guide

The Story of Burnt Njal

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The Story of Burnt Njal Characters

Characters Discussed (Great Characters in Literature)

Njal

Njal, a man of law. His sons kill his foster son. In the resulting feud, his house is burned. Njal and his wife and sons die.

Bergthora

Bergthora, Njal’s wife. When the other women leave the house before it is burned, she stays behind and dies with her husband.

Gunnar Hamondsson

Gunnar Hamondsson, Njal’s friend. After Gunnar’s first manslaying, Njal predicts truly that Gunnar will be killed if he slays another man in the same family.

Kolskegg Hamondsson

Kolskegg Hamondsson, Gunnar’s brother.

Hallgerda

Hallgerda, Hauskuld Heriolfsson’s daughter and a hard-hearted woman. Her third marriage is to Gunnar. There is much conflict between her and Bergthora, but the husbands remain friends.

Hauskuld Thrainsson

Hauskuld Thrainsson, the foster son of Njal, who gets him a priesthood so that Hildigunna will consent to be his wife. Hauskuld Thrainsson is killed by Njal’s sons.

Mord Valgardsson

Mord Valgardsson, who sows discord between Hauskuld Thrainsson and Njal’s sons.

Hildigunna

Hildigunna, the daughter of Flosi and the wife of Hauskuld Thrainsson.

Flosi Thordsson

Flosi Thordsson, Hildigunna’s father and Njal’s enemy. After his son-in-law’s death, he attacks Njal’s house and burns it.

Helge

Helge, Njal’s daughter.

Kari Solmundsson

Kari Solmundsson, the husband of Helge. He escapes from the fire, but his son is killed. After Flosi has paid atonement for the fire, Kari agrees that the burning is avenged, but not his son Thord’s death. After both Kari and Flosi return home from separate pilgrimages, they are fully reconciled.

Hildigunna

Hildigunna, the daughter of Flosi’s brother. Kari’s wife Helge having died, Flosi gives Hildigunna to Kari after the...

(The entire section is 831 words.)

The Story of Burnt Njal Bibliography (Great Characters in Literature)

Schach, Paul. The Icelandic Saga. Translated and with an introduction by Paul Schach. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1962. The chapter “Several Individual Sagas” contains a discussion of The Story of Burnt Njal.

Tucker, John. Sagas of the Icelanders: A Book of Essays. New York: Garland, 1989. Three different essays, on pages 272 to 322, discuss The Story of Burnt Njal in detail. An excellent reference for further research.