Nobility of Soul: Simon Andresson and Honor in Kristin Lavransdatter

Topics: Sigrid Undset, Kristin Lavransdatter, Tiina Nunnally Pages: 7 (2338 words) Published: March 19, 2007
Sigrid Undset's greatest contribution to literature is her trilogy, Kristin Lavransdatter. As the trilogy title suggests, Undset's novels center around the life of Kristin Lavransdatter, a beautiful maiden and the daughter of a well-respected and affluent farmer, Lavrans Borgulfson. Kristin experiences emotional and spiritual crisis with herself and her family after she begins an intimate relationship with Erlend Nikalausson, the rebel knight. After fifteen tumultuous years of marriage together, and seven sons, Erlend's political escapades cause him to be arrested for high treason against Magnus, the king of Norway. In the midst of Kristin and Erlend's dramatic life, there stands Simon Andresson. Simon Andresson's display of honor in Kristin Lavransdatter sheds light on the human struggle for goodness and righteousness in life by exposing the personal anguish and shame of one soul trying to attain his own version of happiness in the world.

The first mention of Simon Andresson occurs when Lavrans meets with Andres Gudmundson, Simon's father, to agree to fifteen-year-old Kristin and twenty-year-old Simon's betrothal (KL VI 61). With a handshake, Lavrans and Andres establish the union between their children, thereby closing the property deal the two fathers had arranged earlier (KL VI 21). Undset's omniscient narrator reveals that Simon was "very pleased (KL VI 61)" with the proceedings between the two honorable families. Simon's life was unfolding just as he, and his father, had anticipated. Lavrans and Ragnfrid, Lavrans's his wife, respected Simon (KL VI 62) and Kristin seemed to grow fond of her betrothed (KL VI 62) each time he traveled to Jourungaard.

However, Simon's seemingly picturesque life unravels before him when Kristin reveals that she has given her honor and love to Erlend Nikulausson during her stay at Nonnesseter Abbey (KL VI 178). Simon is obviously hurt by the betrayal. Kristin utters, "You wouldn't want me now, anyway (KL VI 180)." Simon replies by curtly saying, "If you think otherwise, you had better think again (KL VI 180)."

The last episode involving Kristin and Simon as betrothed occurred at Brynhild Fluga's "alehouse." Erlend asks Ulv, his servant, to fetch and bring Kristen to the hostel (KL VI 182). Before Kristin and Erlend have a chance to drink together, Simon pounds furiously on the door. Simon asserts his right as Kristin present-betrothed saying, "…until her father can come to get her. Until then I intend to defend with both the point and the edge of my sword as much of her honor as can be protected- in the judgment of other people (KL VI 186)." Simon's most revealing statement occurs when he speaks to Kristin that "It's not for your sake I'm doing this (KL VI 186)." He even goes as far as have Kristin swear that Lavrans never know of the sin his daughter committed (KL VI 187).

No doubt that for a man of Simon's position, the humiliating loss of his betrothed to such a disreputable man was cause enough to think solely of his own unfortunate fate. During these occurrences, however, Simon shows grace under unimaginable circumstances. His thoughts revolve around his father and Lavrans. He understands that now all of the property talks and honorable lineage guarantees made between the families over the last two years are lost. Concern for the protection of Lavrans ideologies about Kristin are also on Simon's mind. Since he has known Lavrans, Simon's respect and admiration for him has only grown. Simon knows that Simon would be destroyed by the knowledge of Kristin sinful conduct at Brynhild Fluga's residence. Saving Lavrans from heartache and embarrassment over Kristin, Simon tells Lavrans and his father only the fact that Kristin has decided that she has set her heart on another man (KL VI 192).

The second stage of Simon's life takes a toll for the worst when he becomes involved with his second wife, Fru Halfrid (KL VII 207). Enchanted by Halfrid's beauty, gentleness, and...
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