Just to Get in Free Essay

Submitted By Legionx
Words: 1158
Pages: 5

Fate in Anglo-Saxon Literature Fate is defined as the development of events outside a person's control and regarded to be determined by a supernatural power. Throughout Anglo-Saxon literature, wyrd, or fate, is a common characteristic. The Anglo-Saxon's believe that their lives were predetermined and they had little to no control over their fates and destinies. Beowulf, translated by Burton Raffel, is one of the writings that focuses on the theme of fate. The Exeter Book is a book of poems written by the Anglo-Saxons, and includes "The Seafarer," "The Wanderer," and "The Wife's Lament." Beowulf, and the poems in the Exeter Book. focus tremendously on fate and how it affects their lives. In Beowulf, Beowulf is an epic hero that sets out on many adventures and overcomes many challenges. He hears about a monster named Grendel that is terrorizing the Land of the Danes and sets out to defeat it. When he arrives there, he meets Hrothgar and he boast that the monsters he killed all died because they were fated to die and says that he doesn't fear death because death is fated to happen. When Grendel is coming into the castle to feast on sleeping soldiers, the poem reads "but fate that night, intended/ Grendel to gnaw the broken bones/ of his last human supper"(Lines 257-259). Grendel does not know it yet, but he was not fated to live through the fight in the castle and he had no control over it. Beowulf was the hero with the fortunate fate. The Anglo-Saxons believed they had fixed fates and could not change theirs, no matter how hard they tried. They accepted it, just like Beowulf accepted the fact that he was fated to die sometime. After the defeat of Grendel, Grendel's mother seeks vengeance. She sneaks into the castle and kills one of Hrothgar's best friends, and Hrothgar calls Beowulf to go fight her. Beowulf accepts the challenge and fights the monster, but soon realizes that his sword is useless against her. He takes a magical giants sword and "struck with all the strength he had left,/ caught her in the neck and cut it through,/ broke bones and all"(Lines 521-523). He was fated to win the battle with Grendel's mother, but not easily. Fate prevented him from dying when she stabbed him, prevented the dagger from piercing his armor. He should have died but he did not and was rewarded with much treasure from the Danes. Another literary feature of Anglo-Saxon culture is that they obtain treasure and most likely use it as a sign of status and respect. Beowulf gains respect from his gold he earns saving the Danes. In the last story of Beowulf, Beowulf finally finds fate catch up with him. He is asked to kill a dragon guarding treasure and he accepts the challenge. When Beowulf assembled his companions, he said "when he comes to me I mean to stand, not run from his shooting/ flames, stand till fate decides/ which of us wins"(Lines 619-622). Here, the Anglo-Saxons show the boldness of a hero and Beowulf as a hero should be. Fearless of death . Beowulf rides towards the dragon and starts to fight it, but his companions abandon him through fear. His sword breaks, his shield melts, and he knows he is going to die when the dragon cuts a gouge in his neck. Then the heroic Wiglaf, the only loyal soldier, helps Beowulf kill the dragon. Beowulf dies from a wound to his neck and Wiglaf became the King of the Geats, as was fated to happen. In the Exeter Book, fate is mentioned everywhere. The Exeter Book expresses the bleak times that the Anglo-Saxon's lived during. There was constant war and death, and it showed the hardships and uncertainties that were in their time. One of the poems contained in this book was "The Seafarer". It expressed life on the sea, and how lonely it could get. The narrator traveled the gray sea, around ice and through rough seas and winds, wondering what will happen to him because "there isn’t a man on earth so proud,/ So born to greatness, so bold with his youth,/ Grown so brave, or so graced by God,/