Epic of Beowulf Essay - Hero-elegaic

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Beowulf : Hero-elegaic Beowulf is one of the oldest existing poems in the English language. Originally written in Anglo-Saxon, it has been translated to give readers the opportunity to enjoy this colorful, heroic poem of England’s epic age. It has been declared as a heroic-elegaic poem because of the various characteristics it clearly possesses. An epic consists of a hero who is larger than life. Beowulf is unquestionably a perfect example of this hero because of the amazing acts of heroism he commits. Epic characters also give numerous speeches that revel something about the past or the speaker’s characteristics. Beowulf does not give many, but from those he gives, the reader leans about his character traits. The language of the epic style is an elevated, rather formal language. Similes, kennings, and many other literary techniques are used throughout the poem. Beowulf clearly contains many epic characteristics and the following essay will present the evidence needed to support this allegation. Firstly, epic characters hold high position—kings, princes, noblemen, and members of the aristocracy—but the epic hero must be more than that. He must be able to perform outstanding deeds, be greater than the average character, and be of heroic proportions. Most of all, he must have super-human courage. The poet first describes Beowulf as "...greater/And stronger than anyone anywhere in this world" (Raffel 195-196), without informing us about what he did to acquire this reputation. The reader initially sees him through the awestruck eyes of the Danish soldier patrolling the cliffs. Beowulf's appearance--his size, his armor--obviously commands immediate respect and attention. When asked by the soldier to identify himself and give detail of his visit, he says he is not there to challenge Hrothgar’s power but to perform a task to the lord. He respects the legitimacy of Hrothgar’s kingship and has no intention of usurping the throne. He preforms in the same honorable manner when he refuses the kingship after Hygelac’s death. He accepts the crown only after Hygelac’s son is killed in battle. Beowulf’s super-human courage is shown when he went into battle with Grendel, Grendel’s mother and the dragon. He shows he is fearless when he says, “I’d use no sword, no weapon, if this beast/ Could be killed without it, crushed to death/Like Grendel”(Raffel 2518-2520) before he fights the dragon, which ultimately kills him. Epic characters generally deliver numerous speeches, all of which move the action forward, tell something about the past, or reveal the speakers character traits.
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