Beowulf and The Seafarer In a comparison between “Beowulf” and “The Seafarer” one finds two contrasting beliefs in fate and the sea from the story’s main characters. Beowulf is resigned to fate and is humble before the force of the sea, while The Seafarer is fearful of the powers of fate and the sea and is unwilling to accept them.
Though the actions and thoughts of Beowulf give him a god-like appearance in the story he believes that God and fate work together. He boasts of his encounters with devilish sea creatures saying, “I treated them politely,/ Offering the edge of my razor-sharp sword.” This strong statement reveals Beowulf’s divine and invulnerable self-confidence. To Beowulf, “Fate saves/ The living when they drive away death by themselves.” Beowulf is compelled to observe fate but does not feel it should completely rule him. He allows fate to direct his life, but not govern his actions. A display of Beowulf’s belief in fate is evident when he says, “Fate will unwind as it must.” Meaning, there is a master plan to the world with which he must live. When Unferth taunts him, Beowulf replies by questioning Unferth’s manhood and makes a fool of him in front of everyone. Boasting, “Neither he nor you can match me.” Though he tests fate, he has a more fearful respect for the sea. He knows its power from his race with Brecca. The seas were dark and harsh, but he remained humble and ventured through the murky waters because of this respect.
As a contrast to Beowulf’s beliefs, the Seafarer feels that fate destroys all and takes everything away. Fate is an all mighty power to him and no man can control it, no matter what he does. “”Fate is stronger/ And God mightier than any man’s mind.” This shows the Seafarers fearful surrender to these unearthly powers. “Wondering what fate has willed and will do.” Yet with all this fear and sorrow he does not accept it, but rather wills it away. He is afraid of its power and ability to be stronger than...
...“The Wander” & “The Seafarer” Comparison
In 450 C.E. the Anglo-Saxon conquered Britain and brought with them a warrior culture, a seafaring tradition and a pagan belief system, including a grim, fatalistic view of the world. The Anglo-Saxon also brought their stories of adventure and sorrow to share with their people. Some of the stories were written in The Exeter Book are of only a handful of poems obtain Anglo-Saxon poems. Two famous poems from The Exeter Book are “The Seafarer” and “The Wanderer”. Both of these have similar speakers and show the values of the Anglo-Saxon culture. “The Seafarer” is a poem about a man who loves to be on land but knows he must go into sea and sail. “The Wanderer” tells the story of a man who has lost all of his clan mates and now is alone and he is reflecting on the loss of his clan mates. The speakers of “The Seafarer” and “The Wanderer,” display heroism, fate and the concept of family or clan of the Anglo-Saxon culture.
Heroism is defined as the remarkable strength or moral courage. The Anglo-Saxons believed every successful warrior displayed heroism and would fight until the end to demonstrate such courage. In “The Seafarer,” translated by Burton Raffel the lines that best represent heroism are
This tale is true and mine. It tells
How the sea took me, swept me back
And forth in sorrow and fear and pain
Showed me suffering in a hundred ships
...The vicious monster, Grendel, crouched down rubbing his grimy hands together, his yellow eyes gleaming, plotting his next attack on the innocent citizens of Heorot. What is his motivation? Is it instinct? Blood thirst? In the case of the sea monsters, that Beowulf slayed in his swimming match with Breca, is their motivation the same as what fuels Grendel and his mother's hatred? This idea of evil could present a foreshadow of malice and scorn, both of which play parts in the poem, Beowulf.
Racing through the waters, neck and neck are Beowulf and Breca. A hostile creature lies below awaiting a human appetizer. He roars and shoots out of the crest of the wave to make a snap at Beowulf. Beowulf turns and strikes at the hideous monster only to find that more appear. Breca, far ahead by now, conquers many travesties as well, though not as many as Beowulf. It is said that Breca came about the stronger man; on the contrary, he fought fewer monsters than Beowulf. Beowulf's loss provoked the questioning by Unferth along with his jealousy of having someone be more accomplished than he. " ' Are you the Beowulf who took on Breca/ in a swimming match on the open sea,/ risking the waters just to prove that you could win?/ You waded in, embracing the water,/ and then he out-swam you,/ came ashore the stronger contender/' " (page 35, lines 506-518). What is Unferth's jealousy...
...In the classic epic Beowulf we follow the great hero from his time as a young boy to his final moments as King of the Geats. During this many traits of various characters are revealed to us, none however as in depth as what is revealed about the titular figure of Beowulf. This is done through a jumble of Pagan and Christian values that are being bounced between throughout the text. Many of his ‘softer’ virtues such as forgiveness, generosity and commitment, seem to stem primarily from the Christian values whereas his ‘harsher’ virtues such as bravery, resourcefulness, and determination seem to stem more from the Pagan/ Germanic values. This conflict stems directly from the era in which this epic was written. During a time when Christianity was still growing, people new to it were torn between this newfangled ideology and the old customs, a struggle that is persistent throughout Beowulf.
Shortly after our hero arrives he is brought before Hrothgar to explain his intentions. It is here that that the struggle between the two ideologies is apparent. Initially we are shown the Pagan notion of bravery and bravado. Beowulf says:
I have heard moreover that the monster scorns
in his reckless way to use weapons;
therefore, to heighten Hygelac’s
fame and gladden his heart, I hereby renounce
sword and shelter of the broad shield,
the heavy war board: hand to hand is how it will be, a life and death
fight with the...
BeowulfBeowulf is the oldest epic poem in the English language. It was written in Old English, the language of the Saxons. In the 19th century the poem began to be called by the name of its Scandinavian hero. Historical elements run through the poem, but both the hero and the story are fiction. The poem was composed between the 8th and the 11th centuries. The text exists in only one manuscript which dates from about the year 1000. The manuscript was burned in 1731. Kevin S. Kiernan, one of the world's foremost Beowulf scholars, has studied the manuscript. In this volume he presented his novel conclusions about the date of Beowulf. This volume will be a must read English history and literature. Handwriting style reveals that it was inscribed by two different people.
Beowulf was written in Old English, what is more different from Modern English.
The next boxes contain the opening lines of the poem in the original version and a translation:
|Hwæt. We Gardena in gear-dagum, |What. We of the Spear-Danes in |
| | old days |
|þeodcyninga, þrym gefrunon. |of the people-kings, power heard. |...
...fear is portrayed in the poets’ epic poem Beowulf through the epic hero Beowulf. He is a warrior who embodies the Anglo-Saxon culture of masculinity, warfare, transience of life, reverence for the past, loyalty, respect for authority, gift giving, faith in God, belief in fate, and glory. He too fears for his importance in history and strives for the greatest of challenges with the determination of glory, warfare, and reverence for the past. InBeowulf, the poet’s depiction of the importance of Anglo-Saxon culture of glory, warfare, and masculinity is able to reflect the abundance of death and shortness of life.
The first characteristic of Anglo-Saxon culture that reflects the abundance of death and shortness of life is glory. In the achievement of battle, which normally ends in death, Beowulf is able to obtain glory and fame. For example, before Beowulf’s battle with Grendel, he states that, “…My lord Higlac/ Might think less if I let my sword/ Go where my feet were afraid to…” (169-171). Here, Beowulf believes that if he uses his sword in battle, then he does not deserve the glory if he wins; he has to kill with his bare hands. Because of the Anglo-Saxon culture, he fears that without the proper death of the enemy, he will not receive enough glory to be remembered in his short life. Another example of glory is after the battle with Grendel, “…No Dane doubted/ The victory, for the proof, hanging high/...
...Grendals Deeper Meaning
“In off the moors, down through the mist-bands, God-cursed Grendel came greedily loping” (Beowulf Lines 710-11). In this way the anonymous author of the epic Beowulf poem offers us a glimpse of the blood-chilling monster Grendel just before he attacks the mead-hall of Heorot. Leaving terror in his wake, Grendel ranges out from the wild swamps of Scandinavia with the express intention of seeking out men and doing them harm. But who is Grendel? On one level, Grendel is an original spin-off of Frankenstein's Creature, worthy to take his place among the terrifying monsters who inhabit the world of fiction. Yet, like Frankenstein's Creature, Grendel is more than just an inhuman monster with no symbolic meaning. He is a symbol of the jealousy and hate that seeks to destroy others' happiness and can ultimately cripple a civilization.
The physical description of Grendel is vague, an indication that his fictional existence in time and space is less important than the idea that he represents. The author of the poem has described Grendel just enough to show us that while misshapen and abhorrent, Grendel is not really alien to the race of men. The text indicates that he is essentially human in form. Huge and misshapen, but having “hands,” “arms” (Lines 833, 835), and a mother who is familiar enough with tools to use a dagger (L 1545-6). What places him solidly in the role of a human, albeit, disfigured, is his relation to Cain....
...According to Campbell, “[o]ther [monomyths] string a number of independent cycles into a single series (as in the Odyssey).” (Campbell, 246) In Beowulf, the poet has sent Beowulf on his journey of the monomyth. However, like Csmpbell has written, Beowulf’s journey consist of three miniature monomyths that can be connected into one hero’s journey that take several decades of his life to complete.
In the first cycle, consider Beowulf’s initial call to adventure. King Hrothgar was in desperate need of a hero to rid of is curse, Grendel, that terrorizes his people in the Mead Hall. Capbell writes, “[w]ith the personifications of his destiny to guide him, the hero goes forward until he comes to the ‘threshold guardian.’” (Campbell, 77) He claims “that there is a benign power supporting him in his superhuman passage.” (Campbell, 97) Recall the incredibly fierce storm in the sea Beowulf and the Geats had to endure on their journey that should swallowed them whole. Campbell claims that there are forces beyond the hero that guide him to his destiny. Upon arrival, Beowulf and his thanes are confronted at Heorot by the first threshold guardian. Here, according to Campbell, the hero must “defeat or conciliate” the guardian in order for the true adventure to begin. Beowulf conciliates the watchman to take him and his thanes to the Mead Hall. From there, Beowulf falls into the next step of the...
Oral or Written: A Look into Beowulf
There have been many scholarly opinions over the years regarding Beowulf and its claim to be an oral versus a written work. During the time Beowulf was set most literature was oral and not written. Although it still does not prove that Beowulf was an oral work, the strong oral underpinnings, such as the mnemonic base, as well as the narrative sequence, provides a solid argument thatBeowulf was an orally composed poem.
The use of epithets in Beowulf is one of the techniques that suggest that it is an oral work. Epithets provide descriptions of the qualities of some of the story's characters. They were also used as fillers in oral poetry. “I have never seen mead enjoyed more in any hall on earth. Sometimes the queen herself appeared, peace-pledge between the nations, to hearten the young ones and hand out a torque to a warrior, then take her place.” (2015-2019). Here the queen is described as a neutral person in both parties that bring the tribes together. “Hrothgar, protector of the Shieldings, replied:” (371) is another epithet that brings more emphasis to who Hrothgar is as a character.
Another mnemonic technique used to suggest Beowulf is an oral work is tone. Because most of crowds were men and warriors, the stories often told were about different battles fought and won, or not. If your story was boring, quite naturally no...