The Seafarer Questions and Answers

The Seafarer book cover
Start Your Free Trial

How does "The Seafarer" reveal the Anglo-Saxon ideal of loyalty and tragedy of separation or exile from one's lord?

Expert Answers info

Stephen Holliday eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2011

write859 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Business

Both "The Seafarer" and "The Wanderer," both of which are found in the Exeter Book (ca. 725 CE), are dramatic monologues in which the speakers describe their experience of hardship, the loss of their past, and their hope for a better "life" after death in accord with their new Christian belief system. "The Seafarer," however, is fundamentally different from "The Wanderer" in that the seafarer seems to have chosen his exile, the cause of which he never explains, and even though he clearly misses his prior life of companionship, loyalty, and power, he ultimately rejects the past and focuses on the promises of his new Christian belief system.

In dramatic imagery, the seafarer describes the hardship of his exile at sea:

Fettered by cold were my feet,
bound by frost in cold clasps...
how I wretched and sorrowful
on the ice-cold sea dwelt for a winter. (2.12–15)

His exile from his kinsmen and the land, then, is neither permanent nor long, but even this relatively short experience leads the seafarer...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 1,303 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now









Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Jay Gilbert, Ph.D. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseCollege Lecturer

bookB.A. from University of Oxford

bookM.A. from University of Oxford

bookPh.D. from University of Leicester


calendarEducator since 2017

write2,289 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Olen Bruce eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write4,269 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

amy-lepore eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2005

write3,513 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

check Approved by eNotes Editorial