Beowulf : The British Tradition Essay

Beowulf : The British Tradition Essay

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During the Anglo-Saxon times, the values and beliefs of the Germanic people were considerably different from the beliefs and values of the modern age, which were reflected in the oldest surviving Old English piece of literature, Beowulf. Beowulf is an epic poem written anonymously during the Anglo-Saxon period in England spanning from the fifth century to the eleventh century. The epic poem takes place in sixth-century Scandinavia. “Recited originally in Old English, Beowulf is based on legends and chronicles of the various Northern Europeans who migrated to England.”(Literature: The British Tradition 18). During the fifth through the eleventh centuries“... the ideals of the Anglo-Saxons included loyalty, valour, selfishness, and a sense of justice (Literature: The British Tradition 19). During the Anglo-Saxon conquest, the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes brought over their own faith, Paganism; Paganism is the belief that “every human life was in the hands of fate.”(Literature: The British Tradition 3), and in which the Anglo-Saxons worshipped several ancient Germanic gods. Around 600, the Roman Church began to send out missionaries, and was successful in converting the king and thus converting England to the Christian faith. Anglo-Saxon epic poetry can be easily characterized as a long narrative poem, which celebrates the legendary accomplishments of a heroic figure; Anglo-Saxon epic poetry always represents the struggle between good and evil, uses elevated language and represents widespread values of the time.(Literature: The British Tradition 19). The epic poem starts with the Geat hero, Beowulf, sailing to banish the monstrous, Grendel, who has been terrorizing King Hrothgar for twelve years. The battles that take place show a gre...


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...elieved that strength was representative of the character. In this description, it is quite evident that Beowulf is the strongest around, and should be respected as such. Beowulf showed great heroism during all of his battles, in the final battle against the Dragon, Beowulf was particularly brave when he confidently walked “under The rocky cliffs: no coward could have walked there!”(Beowulf 652-653), and when he gallantly ran at the dragon with his sword drawn, and remained brave and accepted his fate when his sword melted and broke while in battle (Beowulf 662-703). Another instance of great bravery was when Wiglaf remained at Beowulf’s side. When Beowulf fell in battle, and the rest of the Geat warriors fled the Dragon’s rage, one warrior remained, Wiglaf (Beowulf 708-713) He not only demonstrated loyalty towards his king, but remained brave in the face of danger.

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