Compare and contrast the speaker of "The Wanderer" to "Beowulf."I thought this would be a good decussion question! I've always had trouble with this essay question, so I'd like...

Compare and contrast the speaker of "The Wanderer" to "Beowulf."

I thought this would be a good decussion question! I've always had trouble with this essay question, so I'd like to see your ideas!

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amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Both of these pieces are written by anonymous authors, they are both Anglo-Saxon pieces of literature and therefore have the qualities of that literature, and they are both elegiac in mood.

The qualities of an Anglo-Saxon piece of literature includes: elements of religious faith, elements of the old pagan beliefs (fate, fame, loyalty, etc.), a hero that represents the society from which he came, literary techniques such as kennings, caesuras, and lots of alliteration--memory tools for the bards who traveled from place to place to deliver these stories in the oral tradition.

The speaker in "The Wanderer" absolutely has an elegaic quality in that he is lonely and searching for a new Mead Hall to call home--he has lost his lord and all his companions.  While Beowulf never suffered the loss of his lord and companions, his father, Ecgtheow, certainly did, and he found help in Hrothgar.  This is one of the reasons why Beowulf travels so far to help Hrothgar with his Grendel problem.

The speaker of the "The Wanderer" is wise in his experience, like Beowulf, but unlike Beowulf, seems more filled with sadness and self-pity at his fate.  The speaker thinks of all that he has lost and now only looks toward heaven with any hope.  Beowulf, on the other hand, is a more confident fellow who tells the stories of his accomplishments as a verbal resume and even in his fight with the dragon, he goes with certainty.  He dies giving orders for his funeral.

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The Wanderer

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