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The Wanderer: A struggle with Faith

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Introduction

Maggie Ward Block E The Wanderer: A struggle with Faith In the Anglo-Saxon poem, The Wanderer, the narrator describes a man who is having a religious struggle between his old pagan traditions and the new Christian Philosophy. Anglo-Saxons believed in fate, fame, and treasure; and that one could not easily change his life. The Christian Religion believed of an afterlife in Heaven or Hell, and where one would go depended on their actions during their human life. Since Christians did believe in an afterlife, they did not believe in pagan philosophy; instead they believed God was in control of everything, and things in their life happened for a reason. Following this concept, defeat and misfortune were easier to accept, because if one suffered a horrible life on Earth, he would be rewarded for his misery in the afterlife. The speaker of the poem describes a great loss, remembering the time when he was happy with his kinsmen, "Thus spoke such a 'grasshopper', old griefs in his mind, cold slaughters, the death of dear kinsmen....None are there now among the living to who I dare declare me thoroughly, tell my hearts thought" (6-12). ...read more.

Middle

This is why the comitatus was such a large part of Anglo-Saxon life. The lord of a comitatus would care for his warriors; while he allowed them to dine in his mead halls. Also, if a warrior was loyal enough to his lord, he would be rewarded with riches and treasures. So if Christianity was true, then the glory of Fame and earthy materials held no value, which was a basic foundation in their pagan traditions. Anglo-Saxons relied heavily on comitatus for support, and when the speaker of the poem loses all his kinsmen, he feels lost and alone, "So I must also curb my mind, cut off from country, from kind far distant, by cares overworn, bind it in fetters; this since long ago, the ground's shroud enwrapped my gold-friend" (20-24). This line shows how the narrator of the poem tries not to think about what happened. He relied on his kinsmen for everything, they were his support. The lives of the Anglo-Saxons were usually burdened and miserable, and when Christianity was introduced, it brought a more hopeful outlook on life. ...read more.

Conclusion

Towards the end of the poem one senses that he concludes that Christianity is the religion he chooses to follow when he states, "So spoke the sage in his heart; he sat apart in thought. Good is he who keeps faith: nor should care too fast be out of a man's breast before he first know the cure: a warrior fights on bravely. Well is it for him who seeks forgiveness, the Heavenly Father's solace, in whom all our fastness stands" (104-108). This line shows how the narrator still remembers God's eternal love for those who suffer, as well as knowing that there is a life in heaven after his earthly life. The Wanderer reflects the traditional Anglo-Saxon beliefs, as well as captures the speaker's efforts to find the answers to his deepest questions. His faith in the Anglo-Saxon culture has been shaken, because it has not treated him well. Not only did he lose his comitatus, but it also forced him into the outcast existence that he must live. Even as he turns to Christianity for an answer and direction, he cannot help looking back fondly on the traditions that were part of him. ...read more.

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