As the twenty first century begins it is nearly impossible to imagine a world with out a Christian influence. There is not a nation in the world that hasn’t been introduced to the teachings of Christ in some form or another.
It is easy to see then, difficulty of a reader who has emerged in this “modern” society to relate to the paganism associated with the two poems “The Wander” and “The Seafarer. ” Both poems try and convince the reader the horrors and disadvantages that accompany paganism with a direct focus on loneliness, in the form of being exiled or from not knowing to love of the Christian God and foolishly intrusting in the Wyrd. Both poems are examples of Christian theology in direct conflict with the pagan belief systems during the Anglo-Saxon period of English history. In both “The Wanderer” and “The Seafarer”, both main characters are exiled.
In one, the Seafarer, chose his exile, and the other, the Wanderer, was exiled through circumstance. In “The Wanderer”, the character is sick of life in general. He is on an extended journey, not only find himself, but also to find God. He is sick of the world that he was associated with, so he chose to leave it and go on a self imposed exile.
Much like the Transcendentalist writer David Therough, the wanderer chose to live his life wandering through nature trying to find God and, to a greater extent, himself. He understands the proof of the “Living God” as opposed to the Wanderer who is traveling through nature searching for the ways of his old life. The wanderer is described as a “grasshopper” that has just lost his Hlafor (his feudal, warrior king) and is searching for another Hlafor to call his own. Unlike the Seafarer he is not looking for the “Living God” nor is he looking for the love of Christ, but rather another Hlafor to give him the earthly pressures that he has become accustom to. (NEED MORE ON THE WANDERER*****)Pagan and Christian conflicts are also apparent in the story. Like many Anglo-Saxon stories, this one contains both characters questioning their pagan ways, but also their previous lifestyle.
The Seafarer, unlike the Wanderer, however, has an understanding of Christ and is able to compare Him to his old ways. The Wanderer on the other hand has nothing else to compare his old life to so he is now “wandering” trying to find a way to make his life the way it was before. Both poems are written with the stress on persuading a life of Christianity on its readers. “The Wanderer,” however uses more of a scare tactics rather than the way “The Seafarer” presents Christianity.
While “The Wanderer” just presents loneliness and unfullfillment with life paganism, “The Seafarer” tries to show what can happen to one who has been introduced to the Lord and his journey through self-inspection. The narrator in both stories plays an important role in each because it (the framing narrator in “The Wanderer” and the older wiser narrator in “The Seafarer”) is able to portray the Christian theme more clearly. In “The Seafarer,” the narrator is the same person, yet at younger stages of his life. It is told in the first person and through experience. “The Wanderer’s” narrator is more complex however because there are two, one is the frame narrator (the Christian influence of the story) and the other is the internal narrator (the pagan Saxon in search of a new Hlafor). In “The Wanderer” the story is more directed towards the audience to try and scare them into a pagan less existence that is less lonely, less volatile, and less *censored*ey.
In both “The Seafarer” and “The Wanderer” the theme is very conscious: A life with Christ is the only way to go. At this time in Anglo-Saxon history, when both Wyrd and Christianity come to a head, it is easy to see why the church had to record stories suck as these to appeal to the plebian people in order for them to relate to such a new and different way of living. However both stories used different tactics, whether it was fear or through a common story, to show what they thought was the Truth. Bibliography: