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Essay: Fate controls destiny – Beowulf, The Seafarer

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  • Subject area(s): Literature essays
  • Reading time: 3 minutes
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  • Published: 21 January 2022*
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  • Words: 890 (approx)
  • Number of pages: 4 (approx)
  • Tags: Beowulf essays

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Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Deep in the man sits fast his fate to mold his fortunes, mean or great”. Along with Ralph Waldo Emerson, multiple other authors believe that fate has total control over a human’s destiny. For example Beowulf, he was an epic hero that fought in countless amounts of battles even when he was not sure if he would survive. Also in “The Seafarer”, the reader can tell by how the authors expresses is thoughts that he believes in fate due to the struggles he has gone through.
The death of Beowulf has shown an excellent example of how fate was used throughout the poem. Fate is also used to show how the battle between Beowulf and the dragon would fold out. “The he said farewell to his followers, each in his turn, for the last time: I’d use no sword, no weapon, if this beast could kill me without it, crushed to death like Grendel, gripped in my hands and torn limb from limb. But his breath will be burning hot, poison will poor from his tongue” (lines 613-619). At this point Beowulf is between seventy and eighty years old. He knows that there is a great possibility that the dragon could defeat him but he remained faithful to his belief and battled anyways. To try to get the best outcome Beowulf uses his sword and shield that he has never used before in a battle and he was quickly let down by this. His sword breaks in half as he tries to stab the dragon. Beowulf now realizes his fate and knows that his days alive are coming to an end quickly. The people believed solely dependent on fate. “My lord Higlac might think less of me if I let my sword go where my feet were afraid to, if I hid behind some broad linden shield: my hands alone shall fight for me, struggle for life against the monster. God must decide who will be given to death’s cold grip” (lines 169-175).
Another great example is from the poem “The Seafarer”. The author is explaining how fate takes on such a big role in his life and his life at sea. “But there isn’t a man on earth so proud, so born to greatness, so bold with his youth, grown so brave, or so graced by God, that he feels no fear as the sails unfurl, wondering what fate has willed and will do” (lines 39-43). This quote is explaining that no man can overrule God and his plan for a person’s destiny. “No man has ever faced the dawn certain which of fate’s three threats would fail: illness, or age, or an enemy’s sword, snatching the life from his soul” (lines 68-71). This is saying that no matter what life puts you through such as sicknesses, old age or anything will interfere with what fate has planned for your destiny. Fate will always find a way and that no man can ever override fate’s destiny. “Fate is stronger and God mightier than any man’s mind” (lines 115-116). This is the perfect quote to show that God is our Heavenly Father and no matter what choices you make in life he will always be there to steer your destiny.
In additional research I found that not everyone agrees with the concept of fate controlling a human’s destiny. The article “You Control Your Own Destiny” has a different approach about all of this. “The saying “you control your own destiny” applies to the everyday life of us all. The way you act will determine the actions of the people around you, who you are as a person, and what you chose to get out of life. Equally important, the decisions you make will affect you in both positive and negative ways. Depending on the overall outcome, your reaction to the decision will be your destiny. Destiny is your life and the process as we know is very repetitive” (lines 1-6). The author of this is claiming that whatever decisions someone decides to make that day will decide his or her fate. This can be proven wrong because God creation all human; he is always with us and knows exactly how we will live our lives because he is our creator. He makes every decision that is made in our lives.
However, the reader can see throughout the poem that people such as Beowulf and The Seafarer did not control his destiny and he did not choose how he would die but they let fate do that for them. Beowulf did not worry about dying all the time and did not worry about what situation he was in because he knew God would either keep him alive or end his days. “ My days have gone by as fate willed, waiting for its word to be spoken, ruling as well as I knew how, swearing no unholy oaths, seeking no lying wars” (lines 747-751). They let go and let God do his work on them. Beowulf put himself in many risky positions, for example him battling Grendel, but he had full faith that God would lead him to his victory or that fate would be against him and he was completely okay with that.
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