Lady Macbeth

Lady Macbeth

by

Susan King

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Thorfin Sigurdsson Character Analysis

The jarl of Caithness and the Orkeny Islands, and grandson of Mother Enya. Thorfin has an enchanted raven banner and is able to use magic himself. Gruadh sees him use it to stop a fight, and suspects he has used it to win naval battles. Thorfin kidnaps Gruadh when she is a child, after Bodhe refuses to let him marry her. However, later in life he, Gruadh, and Macbeth become allies, united first against Duncan and then against his son Malcolm mac Duncan. Although Thorfin primarily looks out for himself and the interests of his people, he is a loyal ally if he believes an allegiance will strengthen his own agenda.

Thorfin Sigurdsson Quotes in Lady Macbeth

The Lady Macbeth quotes below are all either spoken by Thorfin Sigurdsson or refer to Thorfin Sigurdsson. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
History, Memory, and Storytelling  Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Three Rivers Press edition of Lady Macbeth published in 2008.
Chapter 2 Quotes

“A princess of Scotland has no use of those skills.”
“Scathach was also a princess,” I pointed out. “Scathach of the old legends, who had a school for fighting on the Isle of Skye and taught the heroes of the Fianna their skills—”

“I know the tale,” he said curtly. “Those were older days. It is not your place to fight, but ours to defend you, if need be.” […]

“I am your direct heir now,” I reminded Bodhe. “I must be prepared, since you say I could be a queen one day, and my husband a king. So men will always argue over me, and more deaths will occur on my account.” […]

“You have a warrior spirit,” he admitted, “for a gently raised daughter.”

“Scathach of Skye,” I reminded. “No one would have stolen her away.”

Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7  Quotes

Them men formed a circle around me, friends and enemies both. Ahead, on the earth of the practice yard, two swords lay crossed and ready, shining blades reflecting the glow of the sunrise. Nearby, horses stood, gleaming and grand, ready to be ridden, while overhead, two eagles winged toward the mountains, and a raven settled on a gatepost. Moon and stars were still visible in the sky, and the sunrise flowed over the hilltops like a spill of blood, the sun in its midst like a golden wafer. […] I knew some of the elements—ravens were death and warning, eagles pride and pairing, horses freedom; the swords might be conflict or war, and the circle of warriors around me could have been a sign of protection, or the men in my future. […] My mother had been gifted with the Sight that brings spontaneous visions, so common among the Gaels that we call it Da Shealladh, the gift of two sighs. A great-grandmother on Bodhe’s side had been a taibhsear, a seer, from whom others sought advice.

Until that moment, I had not known that I, too, had a hint of that talent.

Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:

“The truth is in what Moray offers,” [Bodhe] said. “Every mormaer of that region has an ancient right tot be called Rí a Moreb, king of Moray. His wife can be called ban-rí, queen. Just now, Gilcomgan and King Malcolm support one another. But if the Rí a Moreb ever summoned men to revolt, the strength of that army would be such that the mormaer of Moray could himself be king over all Scotland.”

“And marriage to me could ensure that for Gilcomgan. Or for our son,” I added. […] He looked hard at me. “Even carrying the blood of Celtic kings, you cannot rule alone. You need a strong and ambitious husband.
“Our blood needs one,” I corrected bitterly.

Related Characters: Gruadh / Rue / Lady Macbeth (speaker), Bodhe (speaker), Gilcomgan , Thorfin Sigurdsson, King Malcolm
Page Number: 58
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 16  Quotes

“I hear,” Macbeth said, “that wives of other mormaers, even kings, stay at home where they are safe, and keep mute about steel-games unless asked for their opinion.”

“I am none of that cloth.” […]

Walking through dry sand to meet my friends, having witnessed by husband do cold murder, I yet felt a stirring admiration for him as a capable warlord. That day, as at other times, he had demonstrated uncompromising will, as well as physical ability and courage. He revealed a strong sense of what was right and what was not, and what was possible between those points—and he took steps to achieve it.

Whether or not he knew it, I considered myself his capable equal, not a subservient wife. Raised by a warlord in a nest of warriors, I would not be regarded as significant in my small household circle, only to be dismissed beyond its boundaries.

Related Characters: Gruadh / Rue / Lady Macbeth (speaker), Macbeth (speaker), Thorfin Sigurdsson, Angus mac Fergus
Page Number: 140
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 31 Quotes

Watching the prow of the boat surge through lapping waves, I knew that I had protected Malcolm from retaliation. By honoring my promise to his mother and following my own heart as a mother, I had prevented his murder as a boy. And he had returned, just as the mormaers had warned. I had brought this tragedy about.

But if that chance came again, I could not order the deaths of children. A devil’s bargain, that, to choose sin or grief. Closing my eyes, I rested my face in my hands and struggled, overcame a weeping urge. What I had done had been most rightful, though it came with a hard price. It was the way of things.

Page Number: 324
Explanation and Analysis:
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Thorfin Sigurdsson Character Timeline in Lady Macbeth

The timeline below shows where the character Thorfin Sigurdsson appears in Lady Macbeth. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
...men come in and wrestle the assailant away. Gruadh is left alone with another man, Thorfin Sigurdsson, the jarl of the Orkney Islands and Caithness. She asks him what he wants... (full context)
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
...“overwhelmed” by “the temptation of getting a son by a princess.” Ketill also explains that Thorfin kidnapped her after he asked Bodhe for Gruadh’s hand in marriage, and was rejected. He... (full context)
Chapter 6
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
...Ketill, who she had assumed had been killed or injured when Bodhe recaptured her from Thorfin. Ketill says only that any wounds have healed and “peace and restitution have been made.” (full context)
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Thorfin Sigurdsson interrupts them. Bodhe explains they have made their peace with him, but Gruadh still... (full context)
Chapter 16 
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
...hiding spot behind a rock. Men from the Viking ships, including one Gruadh recognizes as Thorfin Sigurdsson, meet an envoy of four other men on horseback, one of whom Gruadh recognizes... (full context)
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
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Macbeth and his men give Thorfin and his men a box, but there is some disagreement and Macbeth kills one of... (full context)
Chapter 17 
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...before she can and stops her. She accuses him of conspiring with her “personal enemy” Thorfin, of killing Gilcomgan, and of bringing his “mistress” and “whore” Catriona into their home under... (full context)
Chapter 20 
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
As Macbeth and Gruadh set out, he mentions Enya, Thorfin’s grandmother, who now lives in northern Moray. Macbeth has met with her, and can attest... (full context)
Chapter 23 
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
...and Macbeth that Scottish warships have been sighted off the Moray coast. Duncan has asked Thorfin for tribute for his province of Caithness (which he owns outright and owes no tribute... (full context)
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
...even if “war came to our shores,” she “would stand strong” and protect her family. Thorfin sinks five of Duncan’s ship and Duncan retreats with the rest. Macbeth and Banchorrie gather... (full context)
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
...removes his helmet and reveals he is Ketill Brusisson. He reports that Macbeth, Duncan, and Thorfin met to negotiate. Macbeth encouraged Duncan to back down, but he would not, and now... (full context)
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
...Elgin and tells Gruadh to gather her household and move somewhere safer. He tells her Thorfin wants to join together with Moray to defeat Duncan. Macbeth considered but refused. Now, he... (full context)
Chapter 24
History, Memory, and Storytelling  Theme Icon
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
...to have Macbeth home for an evening. He has been spending weeks and months fighting Thorfin at the Moray border and managing Duncan. At dinner, Dermot recounts a battle between Macbeth... (full context)
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
That spring Gruadh returns to Elgin. While there, she is happy to hear Thorfin and his army has been temporarily distracted by infighting. Thorfin’s nephew betrayed him, and Thorfin... (full context)
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Gruadh asks Enya about Thorfin’s raven banner. Enya admits she gave it power through spells and charms. Enya refuses to... (full context)
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Duncan continues to fight Thorfin and lose. That summer, Macbeth comes home one evening and he and Gruadh watch the... (full context)
Chapter 25 
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Over the next year Duncan continues to send ships to fight Thorfin and continues to lose. Macbeth is often away at war, and Gruadh misses him. Gruadh... (full context)
Chapter 27 
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Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Thorfin sends a messenger to ask about the outcome of the battle. Hearing Duncan has died,... (full context)
Chapter 29 
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
...Pope. This is the first pilgrimage ever undertaken by a Scottish king. Macbeth, along with Thorfin, attended a meeting of kings and leaders organized by the Pope, who “dreamed of unity... (full context)
History, Memory, and Storytelling  Theme Icon
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Gruadh and her men rush to the beach. Thorfin and Ketill, come to great them. Angus and two other guards ride out to defend... (full context)
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Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
Gruadh decides to hear what Thorfin has to say, although she still doesn’t fully trust him after he abducted her as... (full context)
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From her perch Gruadh watches Thorfin’s long ships hide themselves along the shoreline. Gruadh then watches Macbeth’s merchant vessel slowly make... (full context)
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Malcolm mac Duncan’s ships chase Macbeth’s, but just when they are about to overtake him, Thorfin’s Viking ships reveal themselves and chase Malcolm’s boats away. Although they have won the battle... (full context)
Chapter 31
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Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
Gruadh recalls that in 1054 Lulach married Thorfin’s daughter, Ingebjorg, uniting Moray and Orkney. That spring, Mother Enya died, and in her last... (full context)
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
...to go with Macbeth and Lulach to Scone. They traveled on a boat lent by Thorfin.   (full context)