Unique Poems: Beowulf and “the Seafarer”
Beowulf and “The Seafarer” share several features but at the same time each of them is provided with elements of their own. In this paragraph I will describe the presence of Christian and pagan elements in both poems and the theme of exile. In Beowulf, the figure of Cain evokes Christian ideas and at the same time it suggests sin and vengeance, characteristic of the heroic code of the time. Thus, a clash between heroic and Christian ideals is produced. Also, the battles that Beowulf fights against the monsters suggest the theme of good versus evil.
As for Paganism, the funerals portrait Pagan features where the bodies are covered with treasures. Additionally, the hero achieves worldly fame and immortality through heroic deeds rather than eternal salvation. The references to Norse gods through the poem also account for the presence of a Pagan perspective. In “The Seafarer” there is a clash between Pagan and Christian elements, too. The seafarer is guided by his conscience and believes in Heaven after death but there is also the idea that heroic deeds lead him to immortality because he will always be remembered.
The ending is a Christian one with a moralizing function according to which earthly possessions do not last. As regards exile, in both poems the characteristic feelings are loneliness, isolation and depression but the poems differ in the causes that lead to exile. Grendel introduces a negative concept of exile as he was banned from society but in the seafarer the sailor voluntarily goes to the sea as a way of responding to the internal call to do so. The poems analyzed have some elements in common but they differ in many ways, making them unique and interesting to read.