In most stories about Thor, he's the ultra-tough protector of Asgard. But this story is different. Instead of being the strongest of the gods, here he is vulnerable because he's lost his most powerful weapon. The loss of his magical hammer weakens him both literally and symbolically – it represents the loss of the strength and skill that makes him valuable to the other gods.
Mirroring this actual loss of macho power is the emasculation (feminizing) of Thor that takes place when he's forced to dress up as a woman to get his hammer back. He has to rely on cleverness and tricks, rather than physical strength, to be the hero and save the day.
If you're thinking that Thor isn't entirely successful at tricking Thrym into thinking he's a girl, well, you're right. His enormous, manly appetite and fierce eyes almost blow his cover. Luckily, the frost-giant isn't too sharp, and Thor has Loki watching his back.
Thor's need of Loki's help might symbolize the incompleteness, or one-dimensional nature, of Thor's character. Thor's a macho muscleman, and that's all that he is. Most of the time, this character is sufficient for Thor, but, in a situation like this, he needs Loki's brains to balance him out.
There's much, much more to say about Thor, so be sure to check out Shmoop's "Thor Files" for all the details.
Thor's not the only character who's playing a slightly different role than he's used to. Instead of causing a headache for the other gods, here Loki helps them out. He actually hasn't stolen Thor's hammer. But once he finds out that it's missing, his characteristic braininess and quick-thinking help Thor both to find out where it's gone and maintain his cover as Freyja. As it turns out, Loki isn't jus a colossal pain in the butt; he's also an awesome sidekick – when he's in the mood, that is.
"The Theft of Thor's Hammer" helps us to understand why, for all the trouble he usually causes, the Norse gods keep Loki around. They kind of need him in situations like this. Not only is he brainy and waaay better at dressing in drag than Thor, but also, as the child of giants himself, he serves as a go-between for the two races. Loki: can't live with him, can't live without him.
Want to get to know the trickster god a bit better? Check out our "Loki Files."
While Thor and Loki are playing roles that are unusual for them, Freyja's right back where she started as a pawn in a war between the races. Freyja first came to the Aesir gods from a different, older race of gods, the Vanir. She was traded along with her father, Njord, and her brother, Frey, as a peace hostage in the Aesir-Vanir war.
After she came to live in Asgard, she quickly became known as the most beautiful of all goddesses, the jewel in the Aesir crown (which is exactly how Thrym characterizes her – as part of his gemstone collection). By asking for her, Thrym is asking for the Aesir to humble themselves by giving up their pride and joy. Freyja seems to know that the gods won't trade her for Thor's hammer. She's way too valuable to them. As a Vanir goddess, Freyja knows magic and possesses magical objects. Although she's not about to be traded to Thrym, she's more than willing to help out by lending her magical feather dress to Loki and her famous necklace, Brisingamen, to Thor.
Want to know more about the beautiful and scandalous goddess? Head over to our "Freyja Files."
Thrym's name literally means "frost" in Old Norse. He is the frost-giant, the personification of winter. His theft of Thor's hammer, whose blows were thought to be one cause of thunder, might represent the well-known fact that thunderstorms do not occur in winter.
The Norse gods have been at war with the giants (called Jotun) from the beginning of their creation, when Odin and his brothers killed the first giant to try to prevent the birth of more. Thrym is a "typical" giant in that he's not particularly bright. How did he not notice that his bride was Thor in disguise? Last time we checked, Thor was a huge, ripped god and Freyja was the most beautiful goddess around. Loki doesn't even have too much trouble convincing Thrym that his bride's monstrous appetite and scary eyes are simple pre-wedding jitters.
Thrym's theft of Thor's hammer, and his demand of the most beautiful and high-ranking of the goddesses in exchange, suggest either some serious chutzpah – or maybe just some serious stupidity.