Hrafnkel is not guilty of the crime of murder that he has been charged with. It is true that he has killed Einarr, but this action is justified given the various circumstances that surrounded the act. Though there are reasons that might point out that Hrafnkel was unjustified to kill, the reasons that support the killing are weightier as compared to those that can be put forward to oppose it, taking into consideration the particular period in the history. First of all, an Icelandic ideology on civilization as well as the traditional highlighting the importance of an individual's word should be taken into account. This law, as well as the outlook of this nation, provides a strong backing for the actions of Hrafnkel and his killing of Einarr. After Hrafnkel had hired Einarr as a sheepherder, Hrafnkel told him clearly that all the horses were at his disposal to ride. The only exception is Hrafnkel's prize horse, Freyfaxi. Hrafnkel also put it clearly and concisely to his servant that in case he disobeyed this rule, the consequences would be that he would be put to death. This cruel approach reflects the period in history when a word of mouth from any man was supposed to be respected and was also a binding covenant. At that period, people who made promises and kept their word were regarded as special and honest by the society. It means that Einarr had to take into consideration the words of Hrafnkel, and when he went against them, he would be killed as promised.
Another piece of evidence that justifies the killing of Einarr is that it set an example to the people living in the neighborhood, as well as all the servants that were under Hrafnkel’s tutelage. It points out that anybody who went against the orders from their master would have to face consequences. The major reason that Hrafnkel was overprotecting his horse to an extent of killing somebody for riding it is that he had offered the horse to the god of Frey. It means that Frey and Hrafnkel were the only two allowed riding Freyfaxi. To Hrafnkel, the god Frey was a very important part of his religion. Thus, from a religious perspective, Hrafnkel believes that the act of Einarr's riding the horse was a sacrilegious act that could not be forgiven. He had a strong belief that any person who usually broke their solemn values was not meant to be subjected to anything good. Thus, the fate that had befallen Einnar could only mean that he was bound to die sooner or later.
The question that is elicited in the saga is “if the sheepherder could fail to follow this very important and crucial rule from Hrafnkel, how could Hrafnkel trust this servant in the future?” It means that Hrafnkel was assured that if a religious solemn could be broken by a servant, there could be no other rule or command from him that the servant could follow. The actions of the servant meant that their engagement in work matters had come to an end. Though the act of killing was not morally right, it was theoretically correct. The law recognized that such rich people like Hrafnkel could not kill without reason, and, thus, the blame of guilt would not be put on them.
What is more, Hrafnkel was bound by an oath to protect Freyfaxi from being ridden by any other person apart from him. His oath was binding, given that the practices of the time promised dire consequences to a person who did not act as per an oath that had been made. Hrafnkel was not overly inhuman in the case of killing Einarr. When he took his ax and got ready to kill him, he did it in a reluctant manner, showing that were it not for the oath, he would have forgiven. He would have ensured that he faced another form of punishment that would teach the servant a lesson of not disobeying his master. However, the oath was a hindrance to alleviating the punishment, and Hrafnkel could not please a human being in the expense of his religious beliefs. Thus, his beliefs led him into killing Einnar, who was wrong in that he failed to follow rules set by his master.
In conclusion, there are many facts that justify the act of Hrafnkel killing Einarr. Hrafnkel had volunteered to allow all the horses in his stable for Einarr to use, but the servant still chose to ride Freyfaxi against the orders of his master. The times that they lived in dictated that Einarr had to follow all the words from his master to the letter. Hrafnkel’s actions might seem confusing to many people from modern generation. However, it should not be seen as a crude murder or dictatorship, given the civilization of that period. Thus, Hrafnkel was justified by the rules and laws of that time to act the way he did as he was only protecting his religious beliefs from being disrespected by a servant. However, many changes in the line of legislature have since then occurred. Thus, currently, such contracts may be regarded as void and highly challenged in a court of law in the current judicial system.
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