The Role of Fate in Beowulf

             The battle between fate and free will produces a lopsided victory by fate in Beowulf. A continuous reference is directed to fate by context as well as in elements of theme, plot, and character. The most prominent relation to fate is seen with Beowulf. From his early adventures as a warrior to his later rule as king, fate strongly influences Beowulf’s beliefs and courage. He attributes the successful outcomes of his many fights and struggles to the reasons of fate. The lives and outcomes of Beowulf and his enemies are obvious examples of the Beowulf poet showing that God has the power to control everything, resulting in predetermined fate. “Fate goes ever as fate must.”(Line 455)*
             Fate was a major factor in the life of pagan cultures of any time period. This is well documented in Beowulf, in which a pagan warrior wins because it is his destiny to win, not because of any free will. For instance, “What God judged right would rule what happened to every man, as it does to this day.”(Lines 2858-2859) This is just one of many examples that demonstrate the role of fate in death concerning pagan societies. They believed that a man could not do anything to avoid death, but would rather have to embrace it. This may be one of the reasons that Beowulf goes to confront the dragon; He feels the pull of fate, and realizes that if it was his time to die, he would die. If, however, he was fated to live, that would allow him to triumph. Therefore, there was nothing he could have done to alter his future. This is partially elaborated when the poet states that “he was destined to face the end of his days, in this mortal world, as was the dragon, for all his long leasehold on the treasure.” (Lines 2342-2344) This idea that fate is inflexible, that the future is already planned, is in part responsible for the massive amount of blatant foreshadowing in the story. In this way, the outcome of the entire battle is known even at the ...

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The Role of Fate in Beowulf. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 19:47, January 16, 2017, from