The story of “The Wife’s Lament” is a mystery. There are many interpretations of who the wife was and what she was going through. Two of the possibilities are that she was killed by her husband and haunted the earth in her afterlife and that after her husband died she went crazy.
One justifiable theory is that her husband, the lord, was unhappy and killed her. It appears that he could have murdered her in a few sections. In the poem she laments that that he was sorrowful and down on his luck (“Wife’s” 1). For this reason, it is plausible that he decided to take out his bad fortune on his wife by killing her. It is unclear why he would choose to kill her, regardless she speaks as one who has been betrayed. She states openly that he was embroiled and considering murder (“Wife’s” 1). Although he could have been preparing to kill someone else, there is no one else mentioned in the poem to give evidence of that. She is still reeling from the shock of his betrayal, surprised that he would do that. For these reasons, the wife may have killed her husband.
Moreover, the wife is unrestful as one would be if stuck on earth as a living dead. She says that he has sent her somewhere, to an unhappy place (“Wife’s” 1). A place he could have sent her is the afterlife where she now dwells fretfully. The wife may feel alone there and wonder what has become of her husband and how she had such dreadful luck. She has been exiled and is now alone and friendless (“Wife’s” 1). The ‘exile’ might just be premature death which seems to her like an exile since none of her friends would have died yet either. Now she weeps because they are all on earth and she is separated from them. One point is obvious; she is bitter with her situation. The valley she lives in is very unpleasant, and hardships are insurmountable (“Wife’s” 1). It is cruel fate for her that she ended up this way and she knows she cannot escape it. If she were still alive it would be in her power to leave and find her way back home. Furthermore, she says she cannot rest in peace (“Wife’s” 1). This is a common phrasing for someone who has died. Conceivably, she is wandering the land as a ghost, still searching for her husband. On the whole, this is not an unlikely hypothesis.
Although that story may be true, there is also evidence that supports a theory that she is alive but has been driven mad because her husband died at sea and never returned to her. The wife hints that he has died a few...