The Loneliness and Longing Described in The Wanderer, Beowulf and Seafarer

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The exiles of the three speakers shared the experience of loneliness, contemplation, and longing for happier times in the past. They all wound up in unfavorable environments that led them to reflect on the brevity of life. The Seafarer comes across the isolation of living at sea and the intense climate changes that primed him for his upcoming voyages. Towards the end, he comes to realize the value of appreciating life before it fades away. Following, as the Wanderer fails to seek out a new lord and roams around the earth in solitude, similar to the Seafarer- reminiscing on the comforts in life he once had. Next, the Wife experiences pain from being banished by her husband and the aggression she received from the kingsmen. Although she holds onto the tender memories of her marriage, she mourns to have her former life back. The feelings of loneliness are present across all speakers; however, the thought process and actions taken after the seclusion disclose differences. The Seafarer ruminates about his next steps to find a home, whereas the Wanderer contemplates his past and his future yet to come. Lastly, the Wife seems to get stuck in her grief and feels she has lost her everything while the Seafarer and Wanderer look towards the future and have found something to make them feel whole once again.

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Yes, I initially agree with this interpretation for the reason that it is traditionally used as a symbol for human existence in the numerous works of literature. Fitting to “the Seafarer,” the sea is described as vast, daring, and full of the unknown- parallel to strange life itself. He related himself to humans who must face the reality that life is inevitable; something people can’t wage with uncertainty. He also comes to terms to how life at sea was a blessing and a curse. He reflected on the privilege of having a new day but also acknowledged the days of suffering that came with it. I believe in the Seafarer’s interpretation. You can either sink or float similar to the enduring the highs waves and lows depths of living.

I think epics were crucial to ancient cultures because they protect, reinforce, and distribute their treasured history. Storytelling was deeply rooted in the ancient culture, and they were able to achieve this through their form of entertainment, telling legends. Poets and speakers reciting these epics and legends attracted many people together, where the culture could be shared and cherished. Epic narratives portrayed important cultural aspects of ancient times, which is easily interpreted and passed down through generations. Overall, these narrative works retell moments that keep the history of heroes and legends alive.

Like most heroic figures, Beowulf serves as a courageous and proficient protector who excels at leading his warriors in battle. He aimed to make a big impact and leave an eminent reputation for himself. By striving to achieve greatness, Beowulf’s performance of confronting Grendel and Grendel’s mother becomes on the highlights of the writing. Similar to heroes, he was extremely dedicated and devoted to his king/lord and was wanted to bring honor to them through his bravery. Although Beowulf was not built picture perfect like many superheroes like Superman or Batman, he was selfless where others would be selfish. Much more like a king, Beowulf takes responsibility and puts others before him.

My perspective completely flipped when I read from Grendel’s point of view. This time around, instead of Beowulf being the idol figure for the moment, I felt Grendel’s perception of being treated unjustly by the world and feeling victimized. The story becomes layered with complexity through Grendel’s standpoint, which makes the reader contemplate deeper about the conflict. In this sense it that Beowulf possibly may be more monster-like than Grendel.

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