During the Anglo-Saxon period, lasting from 449 AD to 1066 AD, popular belief was that a persons life was predetermined by fate, or as it was called in Old English, Wyrd. Beowulf is a popular epic poem written during the times of these beliefs. Of the various themes reflecting Anglo-Saxon beliefs, one of the most prominent is fate. Fate is shown as a primary theme throughout the poem. When Beowulf, the main character, announces that he is traveling across the sea to fight Grendel, the horrible beast at Herot, his people do not regret his decision.
They feel that his destiny is travel and adventure and that the omens [are] good (118). They wish him well and send him on his way to defeat the creature. When Beowulf is speaking with Hrothgar, he says that he has hunted monsters out of the ocean and [killed] them one by one (251-252). He says that he was not afraid to do this because death was [his] errand and the fate they had earned (253-254). He is not apprehensive about fighting Grendel because Grendel and [he] are called together and [he has] come to destroy him.
Before he goes to face Grendel in Herot, he shows his reliance and trust in fate again by saying that fate will unwind as it must (284). When Beowulf conquers Grendel, he feels no remorse or sorrow for his suffering because he believes Grendel is destined to die and there is no way to defy destiny. After Beowulf battles the dragon and is facing his death, he tells Wiglaf that he is the last of the family because fate has swept [their] race away (836). He is not upset about dying because he knows that his time has come and he must face it bravely, as he has done with everything else.
He knows that it is his fate; he is destined to die and faces it peacefully. Beowulfs strong belief in fate and destiny is a reflection ofAnglo-Saxon beliefs. These beliefs led the Anglo-Saxons to conclude that death was not to be feared because there was no afterlife. Beowulf expresses this when he is not afraid at the time of his death. He thinks only that it is his fate and in this way, he is able to accept it without question. In this way, he is more courageous and truly the hero of the poem.