Thor and the Jotun Geirrod Hero's Journey
The Hero's Journey is a framework that scholar Joseph Campbell came up with that many myths and stories follow. Many storytellers and story-readers find it a useful way to look at tale. (That's actually putting it lightly. Some people are straight-up obsessed.) Chris Vogler adapted Campbell's 17 stages of a hero's journey, which many screenwriters use while making movies. Vogler condensed Campbell's 17 stages down to 12, which is what we're using. Check out a general explanation of the 12 stages.
The story of Thor and the Jotun Geirrod doesn't fit perfectly into the Hero's Journey structure, but we're giving it a shot. As the gross old saying goes, there's more than one way to skin a cat. Here's how we've diced up the story:
Thor's just your average, run-of-the-mill, super-strong, giant-killing god living in Asgard. His likes include his magical hammer and a strong cup of mead. When he's not out killing giants, he's a devoted husband to Sif and a faithful lover to many, many women.
Call to Adventure
One day, Loki rolls into town fresh from an adventure in Geirrod's hall, which he describes as the most awesome place on the planet. He talks up the place a lot, then suggests that he and Thor make a trip there. But, oh, Thor should leave his weapons behind. Because what kind of good houseguest shows up fully armed?
Refusal of the Call
Actually, Thor doesn't even protest. He thinks Geirrod's hall sounds pretty good, even without his weapons. Loki's very persuasive. And deep thinking isn't really Thor's strong suit.
Meeting the Mentor
That would be Grid, a giantess who hosts Thor and Loki on the first night of their journey and gives Thor some good advice: Don't go into Geirrod's hall unarmed, you idiot! (We paraphrase.) She also gives him some gifts that are pretty important later on: a magical girdle, an iron glove, and a staff.
Crossing the Threshold
Before they can get to Geirrod's hall, Loki and Thor have to cross the River Vímur. Their crossing is made even more challenging by Geirrod's daughter, who decides to take a big pee in the river, making huge waves that threaten to drown them. (Hey, when you gotta go, you gotta go.)
Tests, Allies, Enemies
Turns out, Grid truly is an ally to Thor. Her staff sure comes in handy when Geirrod's daughters elevate Thor's chair on their backs, threatening to slam his head against the ceiling (ouch!). With one strong thrust of staff against ceiling, the chair is back on the floor and Geirrod's daughters look kind of like the shells of the eggs we had for breakfast this morning. Gross.
Approach to the Inmost Cave
Geirrod invites Thor to move from the goat house to the actual hall (he's moving up in the world!), a long room lined with fires. That seems kind of ominous. Then Geirrod asks Thor to play a game. Word to the wise: Don't play games with giants. No good can come of it.
Geirrod's "game" turns out to be catch, with the catch being that the "ball" is actually a mass of molten iron. Luckily, Thor is prepared. He's got Grid's iron glove. All he has to do is slip that baby on, aim, and send that flaming projectile right back through Geirrod's stomach. Sucks to be him.
In our opinion, Thor gets two rewards. First, he gets to kill a lot of giants, which he really enjoys doing. And second, he gets the satisfaction of knowing that even without his magical hammer, he's still a macho, hard-fighting, giant-crushing superstar.
The Road Back
Our story ends when the giants do, but we imagine Thor traveling home satisfied with his day's work. Oh, and really mad at Loki for tricking him.
Geirrod wasn't the first giant Thor killed, and he certainly won't be the last. In the many battles to come, Thor will usually win. Until Ragnarök, that is. (DUM da dum dum DUM).
Return with the Elixir
Thor returns home to Asgard safe in the knowledge that he doesn't need a hammer to be an awesome dude. However, we're guessing that when he gets there, he still holds that hammer real close. Because even though he doesn't need it, it's always nice to have a magical hammer.