A fundamental Anglo-Saxon belief is that human life is shaped by fate. How is this belief reflected in “The Seafarer”?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Before turning to the poem itself, we need to clarify what fate meant to the Anglo-Saxons. This is actually a very complex issue, in large part because we do not have direct, written access to pagan Anglo-Saxon mythology. Based on early English texts like Beowulf , we can infer that Anglo-Saxon mythology likely resembled other branches of Germanic paganism (e.g. Norse mythology); although these written sources all postdate the introduction of Christianity (or, at least, were revised in keeping with Christianity), they contain traces of an earlier belief system. In other words, Anglo-Saxon literature often draws on two competing ideas of destiny. In the Christian worldview, one can take comfort in the knowledge that God is the ultimate arbiter of fate; human life...

(The entire section contains 394 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Already a member? Log in here.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on