The similarities in literature during different time periods are evident in the poems Beowulf and “The Seafarer,“ and the movie The Thirteenth Warrior. The three however, have different styles of writing. The different styles do not change elements of literature such as atmosphere, tone, and theme. Each of the tales has the same type of story, a man successfully making a name for himself. Beowulf, “The Seafarer,” and The Thirteenth Warrior have many things in common, even though each story has a different religion Christianity, Islam, or Paganism.
The two poems and the movie are similar in that they all have the same tone and atmosphere. Beowulf, you have your pagan hero who strives to live forever in stories by fighting monsters that his sword cannot pierce. The Thirteenth Warrior uses an outsider to tell the story of a hero who must fight monsters that seem immortal. “The Seafarer” has a narrator who tells of exploits and ways to live using a dark and gloomy touch. The narrator in “The Seafarer” claims the ocean is “an ice-cold sea whirled in sorrow,” and that he is “Alone in a world blown clear of love” (Holt 56). The tales use a dark and negative outlook on every event that the protagonists go through. In the end, the protagonists die, but they seem to go to paradise or heaven. Even with some differences, the dark gloomy Pagan Literature comes out in all. Each of the stories portrays something larger than life that we should emulate.
In all three, the theme is to overcome something that no ordinary man could do. In the “Seafarer,” you have a journey or an ocean to cross. The Thirteenth Warrior uses the strange humanoid “Wendols” that attempt to destroy the small village. Beowulf has Grendel, his mother, and a dragon that he has to fight. Each of the three involves overcoming the strong waves of the North Atlantic. Beowulf describes water “This watery hell… the heaving water covered him… the lake itself a fiery flame” (Holt 39). The current is considered so rough that only the brave dare cross it. It seems that the Pagan believers consider the ocean to be magical.
Another theme that ties the three together is the sense of group or family. Each story also contains a leader that is the strongest of the bunch. Beowulf is the great one in Beowulf that all of the other eleven follow and revere as one of the greatest warriors. In The Thirteenth Warrior, Buliwyf is the man who fights the fertility goddess and her son. The other twelve seem to be motivated when his sword strikes. The best example of this is in the final battle where the Arab kills many Wendols. “The Seafarer” uses God as the leader for the narrator. The narrator in the final paragraph explains how God will lead him to paradise. The Seafarer has the courage to meet the “fiery” ocean because he believes in one God that will save him and have eternal life. The group feeling is what seems to carry the men throughout the adventure.
The history part in the anthology explains that “Anglo-Saxon life was dominated by the need to protect the clan and home against enemies. All groups from family to kingdom, were organized around a leader who commanded absolute loyalty” (Holt 11). The Anglo-Saxons knew that they were only strong together, not apart. As when a team plays a sport. Each team must work together to achieve a common goal. Whether winning a game or fighting horrific monsters, the team is driven by thought that each individual be obliged to perform for their teammates. This is how the Anglo-Saxons achieved their objectives.
The religion of the three can be described as Pagan, Christian, or Muslim. The Pagan aspect is existent only in Beowulf and The Thirteenth Warrior. The reason for Beowulf is that the story was originally Pagan, but a monk wrote it down. Naturally, the story has a little Christian twist. In The Thirteenth Warrior, the Northerners or Anglo-Saxons are worshipping many gods, while the Arab worships Allah. “The Seafarer” has only one god because of the time that it was written in. The three stories all use religion as one of the driving forces in the character’s minds.
Once looked into, you can see the similarities between the stories. They all have the same ending by killing off the main character. One feels the same after each story is read. All three have religion that influences the story and its characters. The different styles helped make the stories more in common. In the end of the story, our hero is immortalized in stories about him that are passed down through generations. This is how all of the heroes live forever. Though the different time periods, all the stories have the same elements of literature contained inside the words.