Wyrd in Beowulf

Topics: Free will, Choice, Christianity Pages: 2 (816 words) Published: May 16, 2013
The Concept of Wyrd in Beowulf
In the ancient Anglo-Saxon culture, there existed the belief in Wyrd. Wyrd is most easily described as continuous events happening around those that believe. It is also understood that the notion of wyrd meant that all of the events that occured in one’s life affected the others [events]. Throughout the epic, Beowulf, wyrd appears to be a great influence. In some aspects wyrd is slightly similar to fate or destiny and incorporates free will, but the concept, as a practice of heathens, seems to contradict some Christian beliefs.

Fate is defined as the development of events that are beyond control; events predetermined by a “supernatural power”. Destiny, similarly, is defined as a sort of “hidden power” that chooses what will occur in the future. Wyrd is similar to both of these terms in that is has much to do with the course of events in one’s life and what the future has in store for them. However, the ideas of fate and destiny seem to be unstoppable while wyrd seemingly allows individuals to make their own choices knowing that their past and present choices will affect their future. Another contradiction with fate/destiny, is the fact that wyrd permits the alteration of predetermined occurrences through courageous deeds. Unfortunately, this is only permitted if a person is not already doomed (l. 572). If doomed, it is said that no amount of courage could save an individual from the course of events that he has made for himself; in this instance one must just reach acceptance of their future. With the idea of wyrd being that the events one chooses for themselves affect their future choices and therefore their future altogether, it is obvious that free will is a big part of wyrd. Yes, maybe wyrd has put you under the circumstances that it wants you to be in, but how you handle those circumstances is entirely up to you; this is where free will comes into play. It is analogous to the idea that aspects of intelligence are...
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