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Essay on Epic of Beowulf

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Beowulf


Beowulf is the main character in the poem, Beowulf. He is a member of the Geat tribe, a follower of Higylac, and the son of Edgtheo. In the poem, the author attempts to reconcile the human and the heroic sides of his personality.

Beowulf's deeds and actions toward others reflect his heroic personality. He is described as "…greater/And stronger than anyone anywhere in this world," although there is no information as to how he has received this reputation. We learn about the main character more through the eyes of the Danish soldier patrolling the cliffs. Beowulf's appearance, size and armor command immediate respect and attention. Beowulf is also very courteous, patient, and diplomatic when he meets with Hrothgar, from whom he hopes to receive permission to battle Grendel. His good manner shows that his previous accomplishments have not gone to his head. Beowulf's heroic personality is reflected by his willingness to risk his life for his ideals, especially in his fight with the dragon. Even when he fights the dragon, when old age has robbed him of his physical strength; his courage is truly heroic. Reading the poem, we can see that the main character is a person with a definite purpose.

Beowulf is a selfless person who is governed by a code of ethics to help other people. His inner conflicts, whether to act selflessly to help others or to accumulate rewards and personal fame, are good examples of the human side of his personality. Beowulf certainly has a capacity for forgiveness and generosity that is illustrated in his relationship with Unferth. He is never sure if his success as a warrior is due to his strength, or to God's help. In the same sense, Beowulf's character represents the major conflict of his tim...


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...r and the treasure of the slain dragon adorn his grave.

Another example of pagan rituals is given when Grendel terrorizes the people of Denmark. Hrothgar and his counselers worship stone gods in an attempt to rid the country of Grendel.

However, while the poem containes examples of pagan society, the influence of Christianity is also reflected upon Beowulf and the events of the story.

Works Cited:

Abrams, MH, et al. Eds. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. New York. W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1993.

Nicholson, Louis. The Anthology of Beowulf Criticism. South Bend. University of Notre Dame Press, 1963

Ogilvy, J.D.A & Baker, Donald C. Reading Beowulf. Norman. University of Oklahoma Press, 1983.

Osborn, Marijane. Beowulf, A Verse Translation With Treasures of the Ancient North. Berkely and Los Angeles. University of California Press, 1983.


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