The Comparison of the Wanderer and the Seafarer
The Wanderer and The Seafarer belong to elegies, wh
ich are ´the most subjective and emotional part of Anglo-Saxon poetry being otherwise much restraine d in real feeling and emotion´ . The word elegy is derived from ´the Greek elegos meaning funeral so ng´ and like all elegies both poems are full of melancholy, mournful mood. The influence of christi anity, which penetrated into Anglo-Saxon society in the sixth and seventh century, is evident in bot h poems. I decided for the analysis of these two poems because they deal with suffering and I wanted to learn how other people, in this case Wanderer and Seafarer, perceive life while suffering and ho w they solve their misery. This essay will concentrate on the comparison of the poems in terms of th ese issues: impact of society on heroes, their relation to God,fate, their attitude towards life on Earth, their perception and reaction to suffering. This aim will be achieved by the analysis of poet ic images, explaining metaphors and other poetic devices. Old English poetry contains both religious and heroic elements , the reason for that fact is that ´while the Anglo-Saxons adapted themselves readily to the ideals of Christianity, they did not do so without adapting Christianity to their own heroic ideal´ . So the hypothesis is that both poems present mixture of heroic and religious elemen ts.
The attitude of heroes towards fate is demonstrated in both poems. The Wanderer believes in fate but he does not agree with the course of his fate, which is clear from the line ´Fate is full stubb orn´ . He wants to resist fate, he does not want to submit to it, which indicate these lines: A wear
y mind cannot resist fate,
nor can a sad soul afford help:
wherefore they who yearn for glory oft bi
in their bosoms a troubled heart.
So must I often bind in fetters
my souls thoughts, miserab
Here he reveals his idea how he would like to fight against fate. Suppressing of his fe elings, preventing them from penetrating into his soul, indicated by the metaphor in the last two li nes above, could be, according to him, the way to gain power over fate. He stresses the importance o f not giving away his emotions and not allowing them to take control over him by parallelism, which is obvious in ´it is a noble virtue in a man/ to bind fast the mind´s enclosure,/ to guard his treas ure-chamber, whatever he may think´ .He is fighting with suffering, is not submitting to it and this way he can find strength in himself to influence the direction of his fate, his life.He is searchin g the place, where he could find one, ´who in the mead-hall would show me love /, would comfort me i n my friendlessness /, and cheer me with delights´ .The Wanderer endures suffering bravely, he is n ot falling into passivity and makes efforts to change his state of mind. The Wanderer exhibits himse lf as a heroic person, as a courageous warrior against his grief, his fate. The poem reflects stron
g tie between the lord and his retainers. The relationship between the lord and retainer was very si gnificant in Anglo-Saxon society. ´The lord surrounds himself with a band of retainers who are membe rs of his household. It was the duty of retainers to defend him in battle, to give up their own live s while defending or avenging his´ .´In return for faithful service they received from their lord bo th protection and reward´ . The Wanderer was very deeply attached to his lord, the relationship to t he lord did not give him only material benefits ( ´Where is gone the horse?´ ), but also social deli ghts( ´he remembers the retainers and the receipt of treasure /, how in his youth his generous lord / regaled him at the feast, but all delight has fallen away!´ ).He is missing social activities, su ch as feasting, he cannot reconcile himself to the passing of these social pleasures. He is calling- ´Where are gone the seats of the feast? Where are the joys...
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