Comparing Beowulf 's Saga And Beowulf Essay

Comparing Beowulf 's Saga And Beowulf Essay

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The concept of Fate differs significantly in Grettir’s Saga and Beowulf. In Grettir’s Saga the eponymous hero wanders around from misfortune to misfortune, with no apparent Fate apart from vague predictions about the nature of his death. Grettir is plagued by bad luck as well. This is very different than the concept of Fate in Beowulf, where Beowulf has an established fate, and good luck or divine intervention works on his and his fate’s behalf. Fate in both narratives is predetermined, yet the concept of Fate in Beowulf is more deterministic than that of Grettir’s Saga since Fate for Grettir seems more a diffuse collection of unlucky events that repeat through his life.
Both Grettir and Beowulf are endowed with a rather prodigious strength. However, Beowulf’s strength is portrayed as greater than any human’s, or any being’s strength for that matter. Beowulf is referred to as “who of men was strongest of might in the days of this life” whereas Grettir’s strength is more in the realm of actuality (Beowulf 15). While Beowulf literally fights hand-to-hand with a demon and tears a limb off through brute power, Grettir says “he thought he was secure in a fight against most men, even if three came against him at once” and would only fight with more than four men “only if he was forced to defend himself” (Grettir’s Saga 90). This is not to say that Grettir is not strong, for most of his exploits rely on his tremendous brawn and he does defeat several supernatural creatures such as trolls and revenants in his travels.
So while both Grettir and Beowulf are incredibly strong, sometimes their brute power is not enough. Beowulf cannot harm Grendel’s mother with the sword Hrunting, but fortunately discovers “among the armor a victory-bless...


... middle of paper ...


... a different form. Luck is equivalent with the concept of Fate in Grettir’s Saga, and Grettir cannot ever depart from his fate and awful luck.
Regardless of what one thinks about the concept of Fate in general and whether human agency and free will are inconsistent with Fate, one can recognize the Fate of Grettir’s Saga as the more realistic. No real human being is like Beowulf, godlike in ability and wisdom with a predetermined destiny which is brought about by divine intervention. Reality more resembles the Fate that Grettir grapples with, random, oftentimes malevolent, and brought about by luck. However our notion of luck is different than that of the ancient Icelanders, in that we do not believe any person’s luck is fixed for life. In this aspect at least, Beowulf and Grettir’s idea of Fate is similar, since it seems immutable and beyond the influence of humans.

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