Miller, William Ian. A Conclusion: Justice and Exits

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  • Author: Miller, William Ian
  • Title: A Conclusion: Justice and Exits
  • Published in: Why Is Your Axe Bloody?: A Reading of Njáls Saga
  • Place, Publisher: New York: Oxford University Press
  • Year: 2014
  • Pages: 301-7
  • E-text:
  • Reference: Miller, William Ian. Why Is Your Axe Bloody?: A Reading of Njáls Saga. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.

  • Key words:


In this chapter Miller examines the different ways in which characters depart from the saga, with an emphasis on Hallgerðr and Mörðr. Mörðr departs from the saga with dignity, the author not concerned with issues of salvation or damnation. Hallgerðr gets her revenge on Gunnarr and thus must suffer Rannveig‘s damning words, and be forgotten by the author. The author, Miller argues, is concerned in balancing the scales, not necessarily with every character paying their moral debt.


Í kaflanum skoðar Miller á hvaða mismunandi máta persónur hverfa úr sögunni og beinir sjónum sínum sérstaklega að Hallgerði og Merði. Mörður hverfur á brott með reisn og höfundur skeytir ekki sérstaklega um frelsun eða bölvun. Hallgerður nær fram hefndum á Gunnari og þarf þess vegna að þola bölvun Rannveigar, að vera gleymd af höfundi. Miller telur að höfundur sögunnar sé upptekin af því að halda jafnvægi, þó ekki svo að allar persónur þurfi að svara fyrir syndir sínar.

See also


Chapter 77: muna þér: "But her revenge is more grandly artful and hence, strangely, more blameworthy for having no appreciable practical effect; it is pure revenge. There is not a shred of the political or practical in it. It is revenge devoted wholly to the aesthetics of getting even. And because Hallgerd takes special care to remember, the author has his revenge upon her by forgetting her, by dropping her from the story with nary a word of farewell." (pp. 306-7).

Chapter 129: miskunnsamur: "Nothing obliges God to activate his mercy in the next world because one happens to burn to death in this one. Njal's concern here is not about the afterlife or theological accuracy, but that, no differently from Skarphedin, he wants everyone to play his and her final part upon this stage with dignity and courage." (p. 303).

Chapter 145: Mörður Valgarðsson: "Mord, I suspect, lands on his feet, not to dominate but to do all right for himself, because types like him tend to land on their feet, even if they may break a foot from the fall and have to nurse it for a few years. It is rare to find a politically successful person who does not possess the virtue of living to fight another day." (p. 303).


  • Written by: Yoav Tirosh
  • Icelandic translation: Andri M. Kristjánsson