Self Against Fate

In the epic poem, Beowulf, we discover a new way of looking at life. The poem, which was written by an unknown author, depicts life as a journey that is set out for you by God, one that is unchangeable and indefinite. Beowulf as a character is a marvelous person, however, not even he with all his power and might can change his destiny. We as people today base our lives around the same thoughts and ideas. No one knows when our last day will be to step foot on earth. Every second of every minute could be our last. We are sent to Earth by God with a purpose, and only we as individuals can determine that purpose after we have truly, fully lived. In the epic poem, Beowulf, Beowulf himself acts as the epic hero in defeating all evil to uphold the glory and safety of his people as fate would allow him with each struggle.
Throughout the play, we find Beowulf constantly having to defend himself in the fight not only against three horrid monsters, but the fight against fate. Beowulf starts out the poem as a young man, full of pride and honor. As he ages, his wisdom and capabilities excel while his final destiny draws nearer. The slaughter he takes not only brutalizes him physically, but takes a mental toll on his life in terms of time. “Physical and moral evil can be challenged and overcome, but the ultimate evil (perhaps at its extremity, age and death) cannot be avoided. Beowulf slays his antagonist and transcends his own death. By dying as he lived, he is a model for triumph in the last struggle every man must face.” (Masterpieces, Line 105)
After the final battle against the dragon, God calls Beowulf to the heavens above. Perhaps it was merely his time to go, or maybe he had fulfilled all the missions God had sent him for. Only God knows the answer to this, as Beowulf believed he was the deciding factor of every aspect of our life. Only he could expand our time here on earth and as Beowulf felt, “He is under God’s protection.” (Rollin, Page 3, Line 26). We are given this time, unknown, and undefeatable. Beowulf, as strong and mighty as he was, could not even defeat the cycle of life. “Beowulf not only ages but dies. He is intensely aware of fate and almost pre-occupied with death.” (Page 3, Line 51)
Towards the end of the poem, after his final fight and mortal injury, Beowulf’s life slips away through his acknowledgements,
“With these words I thank the King of Glory, the Eternal Lord, the Ruler, for all the treasure here before me, that in my lifetime I have been able to gain them for the Geats. And now that I have bartered my old life for this treasure hoard, you must serve and inspire our people. I will no longer be with you. Command the battle-warriors, after the funeral fire, to build a fine barrow overlooking the seas: let it tower high on Whaleness as a reminder to my people.” (Holland, Line 1916)
In one tone you hear a man ready to leave Earth and start his life in heaven. You hear a man proud of his life and satisfied with the time granted. In another, you hear a man full of sorrow and regret; a man not willing to leave behind his people completely. Beowulf speaks his final words and leaves his captivators knowing he may not be with the people he fought so hard for, but with the people he cared so much more deeply about— those who stood beside him in battle and lost their lives in his respect. “You are the last survivor or our family, the Waegmundings; fate has swept all my kinsmen, those courageous warriors, to their doom. I must follow them.” (Line 1936)
In the closing paragraphs we are taken in a new beginning, a beginning full of a hopeful new king. We are reminded once again that fate goes ever as it must’ and the cycle of life is never ending. All good things must come to an end, and the end must start over with new aspirations and hopes. Though the warriors and people of the Geats mourned the lost of Beowulf, they knew that his spirit was indefinitely amongst them and that Beowulf would rest peacefully.
Beowulf and his people were all deeply affected by fate. They suffered various emotions throughout the affects. It is a struggle that must be fought by each and every one of us. We are our own enemy for not defending our right to live. We must take each day and live it as if it is our last and embrace those around us with all the love and care we have for them. We should learn from Beowulf and fight for our God-given purpose. He lived life and dies exactly how he lived it. He was a strong leader and thought highly of by all. He did well amongst his people but not even his strength and almighty power could reclaim his life. Fate took Beowulf in the manner that is should have. His journeys were completed and he has fulfilled all that was set out for him.


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