Weapons: The Use Of Weapons In Beowulf

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In this essay, I will uncover the countless insights that can be learned about the characters in Beowulf, as well as the society as a whole, based on the weapons the characters choose to use in battle. During the Anglo-Saxon time, roughly between 400 and 1066, swords were considered the most precious weapon someone could own. Although it is not certain who wrote Beowulf, and when, many people believe it was composed in the middle to end of the Anglo-Saxon period. Analyzing the different weapons, and significance of each, in Beowulf, and comparing them to the weaponry at the time, provides the readers with a great deal of insight into the society during this period. The use of weapons in Beowulf not only provides the readers with insight into…show more content…
Within the poem, swords, at one level, are used as a symbol of reward and gratitude. After Beowulf heroically kills Grendel, Hrothgar repays him with a sword, described as, “a victory gift … that was both precious object and a token of honor” (pg. 62 1020-1023). This sword represents Beowulf’s brave battle with Grendel, in which he chose to fight without a weapon, in order to avoid an unfair advantage. Beowulf is portrayed as inhuman because of his phenomenal strength, murdering a monstrous beast with his bare hands, and rewarded with an object he has no use for. Further, a noble king is thought to be someone who rewards his brave citizens and is generous. During this time, kings were among the few people to own weapons of such great value, which expresses the great honour it was to receive one. In addition to the generous gifts from Hrothgar, Beowulf receives a “gem-studded sword” from King Hygelac to celebrate his numerous accomplishments (2193). Further, King Hygelac presents Beowulf with “land as well, seven thousand hides; and a hall and a throne” (2195-2196). By gifting Beowulf with land, his social standings would have risen immensely. However, a single sword, not to mention multiple weapons of such value, would have done this as well. Beowulf became an incredibly respected person after his battle against Grendel. He went from a lower class…show more content…
However, what differentiates an amazing gambler from a good gambler, is someone who knows how to flourish further his or her winnings with one last hand, comparable to Beowulf. In Anglo-Saxon culture, knives were typically used among the lower class people because they were more easily accessible and cheaper than swords. Based on Grendel’s mother’s living situation, it can be assumed that she is not among the wealthiest people during her time and therefore, cannot afford expensive objects. Although she does own a sword of her own, which is described as “a blade that boded well, a sword in her armory,” it can be assumed she would be unable to afford a sword of this value if it weren’t “an ancient heirloom,” as Beowulf defines it as (1557-1558). During Beowulf’s fight with Grendel’s mother, she “pounced upon [Beowulf] and pulled out a broad, whetted knife” (1545-1546). Due to her lower economic status, Grendel’s mother must result to using cheaper weapons, specifically knives, as her means of defence. Although knives were not seen as a high social class object, they were effective when a final stab in a fight is needed to end the battle and a sword is not working as effectively. When Beowulf is fighting the dragon, and his sword fails him once again, he pulls out his knife and stabs the dragon, which leads to his death. During his
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