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Published: 26-11-2019

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A Comparative Study on the Anglo-Saxon Values based on the Wanderer and the Seafarer

“The Wanderer” and “The Seafarer” are exact reflections of historical Anglo-Saxon life. They depict crucial Anglo-Saxon ideals and values. The Anglo-Saxon society was a fantastic male-dominant, patriotic culture. All the tribes of that time shared widespread functions like fierce allegiance to one’s land, worth of reputation, martial values, and such. Most importantly, the revenge cycle or wergild, was a feature they strongly believed in and practiced. These attributes are extremely evident in these elegies and in the most renowned Anglo-Saxon poem, “Beowulf.” By comparing the three texts side by side, we can get a very good sense of how such ideals have been practiced in these tribes. Furthermore, by digging into the themes of isolation and exile, we can get a better understanding of how critical kinship ties have been, and how they shaped the society’s structure particularly in “Beowulf,” which conveys the importance of kin that can further clarify the speakers’ situations and hardships described in the two brief poems.

Let’s begin by taking a close look at “The Wanderer.” Written in the Exeter Book Elegies at about 1000 AD, “The Wanderer’s” subject matter issues a warrior’s loss. It is a dramatic monologue about the speaker’s troubles and his fantastic losses. From the beginning of the poem, we are informed about the speaker’s exile. The warrior is travelling alone below harsh cold weather. The winter season is when actually every little thing in nature is dead. Thus, it symbolizes his loneliness, since everybody he knew had passed away. “Ever since extended ago I hid my gold-giving buddy in the darkness of earth and went wretched, winter-sad, over the ice-lock waves,” (lines 22- 24) the second part of the quote emphasizes this partnership among loneliness and weather conditions. The imagery is concrete and we feel the tension emphasized by words like “ice-locked waves” and “winter-sad” they reflect the speaker’s mental state and his sorrow due to being away from the warmth he enjoyed back in his homeland.

On the other hand, the very first element of the quote shifts our attention to a past occasion the speaker is retelling. His “gold-providing friend” is apparently his lord or king. It seems that his king had died perhaps in battle, but alternatively of dying beside him a noble death, the warrior has to endure a shameful isolation –here the ideals of the Anglo-Saxon society emerge. The term “gold-giving” portrays the ethics of a king towards his warriors, who is anticipated to reward his retainers following serving him in battle i.e. it is a reciprocal loyalty. We are reminded of this best later in “Beowulf,” in Hrothgar’s speech to Beowulf. Additionally, if the king dies, it was expected of his warriors to avenge his death. This takes us back to the wergild motif I mentioned earlier. The truth that this warrior perhaps hadn’t avenged his king, only adds more to his sorrows.

The more the warrior contemplates on his dear kinsmen, the mead hall, and his lord, the tougher his isolation becomes. Therefore, his isolation is not only physical, but mental and emotional as nicely. This notion tends to make us feel about the significance of kinship ties to this society. A warrior with no kin is like a man with no an identity. In this society, a man is measured by his kinship ties, heroism, generosity, and role in the community. With no these, he is regarded as unstable. Hence, evidently the speaker is longing for stability. He is longing to grow to be a component of a community again. Because as extended as he is in exile, he has no identity and consequently he has no explanation to reside in this world.

Similarly, “The Seafarer” describes the hardships one particular experiences in solitude. Physical distress and anguish is greatly stressed in this poem. The speaker is once again, suffering cold weather in the sea, physically and mentally “Pinched with cold have been my feet, bound by frost in cold fetters, while cares seethed hot around my heart, hunger tore from within my sea-wary mind,” (lines 8-12). Vivid imagery of binding, frost, and cold waves makes its way into this poem. As we read far more, we grow to be much more sympathetic with the speaker. He evokes pessimistic feelings, as we really feel like we are in his spot, for when he talks about his personal distress he shifts his tone and starts addressing the struggles of human life when he says, “Always, for everyone, one particular of the three items hangs in the balance before its due time: illness or age or attack by the sword wrests life away from one doomed to die,” (lines 68-71). In other words, each and every man dies like you, no one is immune to death.

Nonetheless, he later points out that with your reputation, you can leave something of you to be remembered by as this is the best of praise. He refers to “gold-givers” (a term also seen in “The Wanderer”) as examples of men and women who did “glorious deeds and lived in most lordly fame,” (lines 84-85). Once more, this relates to the essential values this culture holds dear, which also stresses the value of one’s ties and what one leaves behind. Even by merely possessing a son or a successor, your name can continue to reside and therefore your reputation. This is anything that is extremely valued amongst the Anglo-Saxons, which Beowulf sadly lacks.

Although the speaker of “The Seafarer” is like “The Wanderer,” seeking for stability, “The Seafarer” shifts from getting a sea voyage to a a lot more spiritual 1. So perhaps for the seafarer, stability lies within religion. In reality, the speaker ultimately describes this earth as becoming a short-term location and this we can all relate to given that we will all eventually die. Nevertheless, they both portray themes of isolation and loneliness fairly explicitly.

With this in thoughts, we can shift our attention to how “Beowulf” portrays ideals explained earlier. For the most component, “Beowulf” is a poem that emphasizes martial values and heroism. We see in “Beowulf” the value of the revenge cycle and how it ties to having kin or successors. There’s a dynastic theme which is vital to Beowulf’s kingdom, thus we can undoubtedly agree on how crucial the kinship function plays in this culture. If one wants to realize the backgrounds of “The Wanderer” and “The Seafarer,” one particular must basically study “Beowulf” given that it addresses the issues and values related to this culture, which they all share in typical.

Hrothgrar’s speech, for instance, in lines 1687-1784 illustrates these values and validates what I said earlier about kinship ties and how critical they are, since they are the foundation of these Anglo-Saxon tribes. In his speech, he praises Beowulf for his goodness and contrasts him with Heremod who suffered since he lacked the traits anticipated from a king. “No rings did he give to the Danes for their honor,” (lines 1719-20) once again this notion of “gold-giver” is noted here. In common, the king must be loyal and should give to his individuals and as a result, his warriors should have heroic qualities. Therefore, the survival of these standards is essential to sustaining some social stability inside these tribes.

In addition, Hrothgar continues by advising Beowulf to learn from Heremod. “For your sake I have told this, in the wisdom of my winters,” (lines 1724-25), a line that echoes what the speaker says in “The Wanderer:” “A man can not grow to be wise, before he has weathered his share of winters in this planet,” (lines 64-five). In other words, 1 must have his share of struggles and expertise a entire lot of winter (grow old), prior to one particular can really become wise. Indeed, Beowulf realizes that, when he becomes old and guidelines the kingdom with no an heir. He realizes that his position is not a very favorable position to be in, when 1 wants to rule and continue his legacy.

This takes me to the notion of instability and how it impacts Beowulf’s people. Grendel, for instance, even though an outcast, does have a person to avenge his death at 1st. We see Grendel’s mother practicing the ideals of the society by going back to Hrothgar’s hall to avenge her son’s death. Nonetheless, Grendel himself does not have off-springs, therefore he has no one to continue his dynasty. Likewise, Beowulf lacks a successor. Although his kinsmen respect and serve him nicely, Beowulf does not have a kin of his own to carry his name. This jeopardizes his individuals following his death, as this tends to make them vulnerable to outdoors attacks. For that reason, the importance of maintaining a steady society is anything that Beowulf fails to achieve.

And so, in short, by looking at these texts and by understanding how human connections are interconnected with one’s character and role, we get a very good picture of how these Anglo-Saxons survived. “The Seafarer” does tell us that 1 have to leave a good reputation about himself following his death, which Beowulf accomplishes to do. Nonetheless, “The Wanderer” reminds us of how crucial kinsmen are to one’s identity and one’s place in society and that is some thing Beowulf does not fulfill fully. These are rather challenging standards that these Germanic tribes had to conform to, but only by understanding these values and ideals can we commence to grasp the themes of isolation, exile and loneliness in these Old English texts.
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