Vinland Saga’s philosophy blends Violence and Pacifism: here’s how

Vinland Saga and its philosophy of violence and pacifism

Vinland Saga as an anime and a manga gained immense popularity due to the recurring philosophical themes and questions. Vinland Saga’s philosophy of violence, vengeance, idealism, stoicism, loyalty, honor, redemption, etc is recurring and present throughout the storyline. Moreover, the plot explores the ideal of pacifism in a world filled with and motivated by violence and war. The philosophy of war and the philosophical questioning of violence become major tropes and signs in the entire narrative.

Thors’ idealism and his religion of a ‘true warrior’ is flawed and naive in Vinland Saga’s philosophy

Thors, who is Thorfinn’s father in Vinland Saga, was an overly idealistic man, who believed that a ‘true warrior’ doesn’t need a sword to end conflict but it can be done through diplomatic approaches and peaceful means. But this theory of trading against conflict through peace in a world that is dictated by constant violence, war, and pillaging seems absolutely flawed.

The narrative challenges Thors by creating a scenario where the helpless are subjected to death and torture, the unprotected are murdered mercilessly, the pacifier is turned into a militarist, and conflicts are resolved through violence.

Vinland Saga and its philosophy of violence and pacifism
Young Thorfinn from Vinland Saga (Image courtesy of Wit Studio)

Thors’ idealism of battling conflict without conflict costs him his life in Vinland Saga. It sets Thorfinn into a decade-long cycle of violence and vengeance and it ultimately validates the notion of violence itself. The narrative of Vinland Saga constantly leans towards violence as a necessary tool to prevent itself. It is an important philosophical question: is it the blade or the man which becomes the tool for violence?

Vinland Saga is a philosophical study of loyalty, honour, and redemption

The philosophical questions revolving around the Vinland Saga story constantly bring out the themes of loyalty, honour, and redemption. Loyalty and honour become the driving factors or agents of man’s actions in the story. It is a sense of loyalty towards the family and its beliefs that binds the entire fabric of the society together in Vinland Saga.

Vinland Saga's philosophy of violence and pacifism
A scene from Vinland Saga (Image courtesy of MAPPA)

Moreover, the ideals might be a bit displaced but honor as a theme also has a strong foothold. It is the honor which tests the characters and poses difficult questions and choices. Characters like Thorfinn and Askeladd constantly perform acts that go against their conventional teachings but it is the honor which has a tighter grip over their actions and choices.

The theme of redemption is the ultimate step of realization in Vinland Saga. Most of the characters, including Thorfinn seek redemption for their actions of the past. The concept of redemption also explores a whole journey in itself. It makes the philosophical questioning of these characters’ changing personalities very tough yet gradual.

The philosophical ideal of Absolute Pacifism in Vinland Saga

It is through the character of Thorfinn that the idea of Absolute Pacifism is finally brought up. Thorfinn becomes a stoic man who finally confronts his demons and his fears to overcome his guilt. He gives up on the idea of vengeance and sets out to create a place where conflict is impossible. While the plot of Vinland Saga doesn’t promote absolute pacifism either, it is also not the absolute domination that it seeks. It seeks a balance because even absolute pacifism might lead to a greater form of violence, a countermeasure that then becomes unstoppable.

Vinland Saga and its philosophy of violence and pacifism
Vinland Saga (Image courtesy of MAPPA)

Vinland Saga questions the nature of reality and violence through Thorfinn and ultimately ends with his ideal of absolute pacifism. It starts with first acquiring control over the self and then reaching out to the world. The stoic nature of the man finally gave him the power to focus on things under his control and his desire to find and create a place called Vinland which doesn’t acknowledge people like Askeladd or Canute, and where the burdens of the past are discarded and violence is banished.


The various philosophical signs in Vinland Saga together make up for an astounding plot that sets into motion various questions at once. While all of these questions are also conflicting in nature, the answers somehow converge into a final resolution and Vinland Saga becomes the embodiment of a philosophical inquiry into life and its conflicts.

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