Fenrir the Wolf: Villain or Victim?

Posted by Ms Elly on

Fenrir the Wolf: Villain or Victim?

Norse mythology never seems to cease offering us an infinite source of inspiration. Every time we read something from Norse mythology, something new is revealed. We find it complicated in an interesting way. Fenrir is among the most awesome and complicated figures that always makes me wonder about his personal traits. 

The point here is whether Fenrir the Wolf was the villain or just a victim of life adversity?

Fenrir's background

If you are a newbie to Norse mythology, Fenrir was the son of Loki the Trickster. Like father like son, both of them were interesting. Fenrir was the son of Loki and Angrboda the giantess. It seemed like any figure who was half-god half-giant would be incredibly strong, for example, Odin and Thor. And so was Fenrir who finally swallowed Odin in Ragnarok. 

Fenrir had other two siblings and some other step-brothers. Jormungandr the Midgard Serpent and Hel the Queen of the Underworld were Fenrir's siblings. Three of them "contributed" a great deal to the army of the giant to attack Norse gods. 

Fenrir the Howling Wolf

From the beginning, Fenrir was predicted to become the sworn enemy of Odin

What Fenrir had done to the cosmos was disastrous. 

The battle of Ragnarok was foretold long before the day it finally befell the cosmos. Prior to Ragnarok, many species in Norse cosmos had to endure a lot of pain. Odin and the gods lost their Shining God - Baldur the son of Odin. Humanity in Midgard had to endure three consecutive winters coming in a row, without any summer in between. This made them starve to the point that they had to kill each other for food. Brothers killed brothers and blood was everywhere. 

Then in the Van river where the gods bound Fenrir to the rock, Fenrir broke his chain and set himself free. It was a family call and Fenrir finally met his father, Loki, to assemble the army of the giant to crash the gate of Asgard. 

Fenrir the Wolf and Ragnarok in Norse mythology

Fenrir the Villain bound to the Van river

The jaws of Fenrir could stretch from heaven to earth. He swallowed everything that was in his path. The family of Loki affiliated the Norse Worlds as Fenrir killed everyone in his way, Jormungandr poisoned the sky with his breath, and Hel sent the largest army of the dead to come and join her father. 

The reason why Fenrir was considered a villain in Norse mythology was that he killed the chief god of gods - Odin the Allfather. Right from the beginning, the two was destined to be sworn enemy. A leader was the one who showed the way and made the way for his clan. And Odin was gone and the clan felt a loss. Nearly all the blame was on Fenrir and he became the villain as many of us believe.

From another viewpoint, Fenrir was the victim of adversity. 

Was Fenrir born that evil? I have been tossing and turning over this question for a period of time. I do believe that no one was born evil. From the beginning, we all are innocent and if we have to become evil (or do something bad), we are usually pushed to that point by life adversity. 

After all, Fenrir just did what he had to do to protect his family and his clan. If he hadn't done it first, no one would be sure for his clan's security. I am not saying that the gods had to take all responsibility, but half of it. 

It was the gods who separated the family of Loki. They brought Fenrir to Asgard, cast Jormungandr into the ocean, and banished Hel to the underworld. What they didn't think of was that every child of Loki became a dominant force in each place. Fenrir grew up quickly to the point that the gods couldn't keep him in Asgard and had to bind him to the Van river. Jormungandr became a large serpent encircling Midgard by his body. Hel then became the queen of the Underworld ruling over the dead souls. 

The battle of Ragnarok

And when their time came, they had to grab their opportunity. It was just a flicker of a moment. If they missed, their clan might be gone forever. And they had to fight against what could be a threat to them in the future. Because Loki and his children had endured the pain that Norse gods gave to them, they had to take action in advance. It was nothing weird. 


After all, whether Fenrir was the villain or the victim of life adversity, he stood up and fought for what he believed.

Another thing that just dawned on me was that whether Fenrir ever thought about the consequence that the world had to suffer when Fenrir fought for his belief? The world was almost destroyed just because someone's belief, whether his motives were good or not, something terrible befell the cosmos. That's why he could never get away with what he had done. He had to take half of responsibility. 

And no one could deny the fact that Fenrir and his family helped the cosmos to function in the way it was supposed to do. Old things must die and new things would come. That's the rule. Norse Pantheon and the cosmos under Norse gods' rule had to come to an end when their time was up. And they must be gone for the new generation of gods. It was a naturally selective process. 

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1 comment

  • I need to know who made the first image in this article, i run a facebook group that im trying to turn into a non profit and i want to use the image for t shirts

    Ryan Mccausland on

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