The Wanderer vs. The Wife's Lament - Free Paper Example

Published: 2023-11-24
The Wanderer vs. The Wife's Lament - Free Paper Example
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  English literature
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 854 words
8 min read


There is an English saying that claims that true happiness lies within oneself. We are in a new era, a time when it is entirely normal for an individual to desire to live in isolation or to cut himself from all forms of human interactions completely. There is a possibility that one can still discover true happiness in those solitude moments. However, even though this has turned to a norm today, things have not always been this way. For example, during the 5th to the 15th century, the process of exile was considered intense. The kind of sorrowfulness brought about by exiling people and the state they can subject one into are portrayed well in the texts selected, "The Wife's Lament" and "The Wanderer." In a first-person narrative, authors in both books successfully provide insights into the main characters' tragedies.

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"The Wife's Lament" is a 53 lines long poem, and it is thematically concerned with a woman who suffers grief after her lover, due to extenuating reasons, traverses the "storm crossed sea." She is left to suffer "the wretchedness of exile" (Lench). Considering the condition, the speaker retains her right to share the miseries that she is going through and does not provide little explanations of the specific situations. She tries to imagine the nature of love that is lost (Straus, 281). Additionally, as readers were are led to believing that her lover, despite being absent, continues to share her "endless surging sorrows" (Grace 70). Also, her husband does through great anguish as a result of their separation.

On the other hand, the theme of separation is evident in "The Wanderer," a text that shares a similar origin, whereby the main character is a male protagonist, "the earth walker" only that it does not focus on a lost lover but losing his homeland. Just as the male figure in "The Wife's Lament," he is taken away from home and his people (Lench). As a result, he was forced to find a location where he considers safe and comfortable to be "received with gladness." Also, the speaker in this poem complained of loneliness and missed connections.

Common Theme

Apart from sharing a common theme and writing style, the two texts employ a remarkably similar language. For instance, the statement "removed from his homeland" (Wanderer) carries a similar meaning to the "Outlawed from his homeland" as used in the poem (Lament). Other examples of statements that seem to have the same meaning are "one who languishes, waits for a lover" (Lament), and "sand of face he hid on the earth" (Wanderer). These two instances, among others, confirm that the language used in the two poems are alike. In fact, according to contemporary critics, there is a possibility that "The Wife's Lament" was written by a male author despite that there is heavy use of feminine pronouns; however, there is a contention that generally disregards the argument. The other reason why the poem "The Wife's Lament" is deemed to have a male author is that it employs a similar tone, particularly when it is compared to "Wanderer."

In both poems, the idea of social performance is explored. For instance, in "The Wanderer," the speaker says that he would spend all night speaking to himself about his cares since nobody can express his feelings to or the thought of his heart (Straus 281). He claims to understand that there is a fine custom to lock his heart tight and work on his emotions or thoughts. The words of weary hearts can not withstand fate. Thus, as eager to achieve, one should make sure that sorrowful thoughts are shut fast in his breasts coffer. The same message is passed in "The Wife's Lament," whereby the author argues that if a young person is ever sad and experiencing a heavy heart, he should at the same time ensure that he has tried to find countenance, however surging the sorrows may be.


In summary, the two texts, "The Wanderer" and "The Wife's Lament," share a lot of similarities though there are still a few evident differences. For instance, the theme of isolation is common between them, whereby they involve losing a lover and home. In both, the major characters are subject to sorrowfulness, suffering, and loneliness as they work towards retaining what they lost or at least making something out of themselves. However, in direct opposition to the masculinity image presented in the "Wanderer," the speaker in "The Wife's Lament" is a female despite the arguments raised against it based on tonal characteristics. Hence, logically speaking, the author can only be a female since it is highly unlikely that the poem can be written by a male in the guise of a female persona.

Works cited

Grace, Nancy M. "Ruth Weiss’s Desert Journal: A Modern-Beat-Pomo Performance." Reconstructing the Beats. Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2004. 57-71.

Lench, Elinor. "The Wife's Lament: A Poem of the Living Dead." Comitatus: A Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies 1.1 (1970).

Straus, Barrie Ruth. "Women's Words as Weapons: Speech as Action in" The Wife's Lament"." Texas Studies in Literature and Language 23.2 (1981): 268-285.

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