An Analysis of the Epic Poem, Beowulf - Fame, Kingship, Fate and God in Beowulf

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Fame, Kingship, Fate and God in Beowulf

The Anglo-Saxons were a people who lived in and ruled England from the fifth century AD until the Norman Conquest. They were a people who valued courage and leadership. They lived under kings who were "keepers of gold" and were guarded by their loyal thanes (knights). They were a Pagan culture until the Normandy conquistadors came. They believed in fate and believed the only way to live forever was if you had fame. In the Anglo-Saxon book, Beowulf, there was a combination of many different people. The characters in Beowulf are defined by their status. Their status was in form of their fame and accomplishments. Beowulf was a very famous warrior, who sails to the Danes to kill a monster who is murdering their people. Beowulf kills Grendal, Grendal's mother and a dragon throughout the entirety of the story. Every time he receives more fame and more glory. Beowulf became a king. He was a great king who received honor and loyalty from his men. Although, during the fight with the dragon Beowulf's men run away and as a result Beowulf dies. The book claims that Beowulf had fate against him in his last battle against the dragon, but also says that Beowulf had Christian morals. By having two conflicting religions (paganism and Christianity) it makes the story more interesting. This book is composed of four main characteristics: fame, kingship, fate, and God, which play very important roles throughout the book.

In Beowulf the Anglo-Saxons longed for fame. To them fame meant immortality. For example, the narrator says, "But Beowulf longing only for fame, leaped into battle" (Raffel 1529). To Beowulf the only reason to risk his life is a battle, is so he can have his moments of fame, hence immortality. Even if a character gains fame, they will always be fighting to receive more. After Beowulf becomes king one of his servants says, "Beloved Beowulf, remember how you boasted, once, that nothing in the world would ever destroy your fame: you fight to keep in now, be strong and brave, my noble king, protecting life and fame together" (2586). So even though Beowulf had fame, he had to keep fighting and being successful in order to protect and keep his fame.
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