In order to be classified in the genre, epic, a piece of literature must incorporate certain literary techniques. It should be a long narrative poem, be written about a hero, and contain alliteration, rhythm, and imagery. Beowulf contains three thousand one hundred and eighty two lines. The title comes from the poem’s main character, Beowulf, who repeatedly demonstrates heroic acts beyond the ability of the average man, described as being the mightiest man, Beowulf conquers beasts and a dragon, becomes a king ruling his land for more than fifty years, and is a great leader his men are eager to follow. The author of Beowulf uses alliteration throughout the poem, this device draws one’s attention and creates a flow for the reader. In this example the author uses alliteration when opening the scene for the day after Heorot is attacked “Then as dawn brightened and the day broke” (126). The use of alliteration also lends to the rhythm of the tale, it is almost sing-song like, making it easier to remember. The author uses imagery to skillfully and artfully draw the reader into the story. Here the author describes Grendel’s arrival at Hrothgar’s castle, where he will meet Beowulf: “The iron-braced door turned on its hinge when his hands touched it. Then his rage ...
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... fate: “I barely managed to escape with my life; my time had not yet come” (2140-2141). During this time the Anglo-Saxon people were also converting from pagan beliefs to Christian, the back and forth struggle between the two religions can also be found throughout, as the poet bounces back-and-forth between pagan ideas of fate and Christian ideas of God being in control.
This epic is an excellent addition to required reading assignments. It provides its readers with a prime example of what an epic should consist of. It is an ageless piece that has withstood the test of time and can still be enjoyed by the readers of today. While at the same time giving insight into the world as it was then. This masterwork, has an author unknown, was a passed down through generations of oral story-telling, and survived a fire, this is a piece of literature that deserves to live-on.
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