The Epic Poem, Beowulf

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The epic poem, Beowulf, provides an in depth look at a situation of a dual ordeal. Within this poem, the protagonist, Beowulf, is presented with a life full of both internal and external struggles. While Beowulf just battle his natural human predisposition and the vices of pride, greed, anger, cowardice, betrayal, and self-concern, he also must battle vicious and merciless supernatural creatures. Each external battle has a complex link to the internal battle waging within Beowulf himself. When analyzing this poem in terms of formalist criticism, it is clear that the story’s symbolism provides a deeper meaning for characterization, the specific diction of the author acts as a means of furthering their message, and the plot structure consistently supports the idea of the themes and messages conveyed. Through these conventions, Beowulf displays the battle against fiendish creatures as well as the battle against trying human tendencies. Through formalist criticism, one can distinctly analyze Beowulf in an alternative manner that helps illuminate previously unseen facets of the poem and the struggles that take place within it. In the poem Beowulf, all three monsters’ actions are fueled by different variations of anger, such as revenge, greed, and hatred, with each having its own reasoning behind it. In this way, each monster is symbolic of an internal vice or flaw and struggle of human nature. The monsters that Beowulf must fight in this Old English poem shape the poem’s plot structure and seem to represent an inhuman or alien presence in society that must be exorcised for the society’s safety. They are all outsiders, existing beyond the boundaries of human realms. Grendel’s and his mother’s encroachment upon human society—they wreak... ... middle of paper ... ...aped the torments of human tendencies and the battles that are presented with them. Beowulf’s trials and battles clearly convey the idea of a man struggling through the trying internal and external battles many epic heroes must fight. Through the symbolism of the monsters described in Beowulf, the author of this epic poem furthers their message of the difficulties in battling physical forces, but also internal human nature- the vices and issues that come with human tendencies. As Beowulf battles supernatural creatures he must also battle his internal demons of pride, greed, cowardice, anger, betrayal, and self concern. The external battles and the ways in which they are described- the structuring of the poem itself as the story progresses and the means through which each event is described- exemplify the struggles within Beowulf himself as he deals with each ordeal.

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