"There are Few Things More Powerful Than Destiny": Gender, Power and Foresight in The Sagas of the Icelanders (Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries)

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Poole, Amy
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University of Guelph

The family sagas present a complex understanding of gender in medieval Iceland. Many scholars examine medieval Icelandic perceptions of gender and power in the sagas. However, few consider how the ability of foresight could affect these views. This thesis will analyze prophetic men and women across six family sagas. The results reveal that these characters wield a similar level of authority based on their prophecies and dream-visions. While some male characters disregard women and effeminate men for their visions, the author defends their authority when they prove that their prophecies are correct. Additionally, the writers ascribe both masculine and feminine traits to these individuals, allowing them to challenge traditional ideas of gender. These statements reflect a fascinating tension between the perspectives of the authors and that of medieval Icelandic society. As a result, this paper will reveal that foresight was significant in establishing a fluid idea of gender in Iceland.

Fraser, Ekholst, Iceland, Family Sagas, Sagas of the Icelanders, Gender, Foresight, Dream Visions, Prophecies, Foresight