The poem Beowulf depicts a world inhabited by semi-civilized societies that are very loyal to members of their group, that are transitory, that have little security, that are made prey of, by even single monsters of huge strength (Thompson 16).
In the poem the families or tribes that have banded together have formed their small societies. Ralph Arnold in his essay “Royal Halls – The Sutton Hoo Ship Burial,” says: “Lust for gold as a symbol of royal wealth and for gold to give away probably accounted for much of the warfare in which the early English kings indulged” (91). Such little societies are motivated by their selfishness, as they repeatedly attack any weaker societies in the area so as to increase their stockpile of treasure and arms, or to avenge a misdeed from somewhere in the past:
That is the feud, the hatred of tribes,
war-lust of men, (2999-3000)
Consider Beowulf’s revenge of the murder of Heardred, son of Hygelac, by the sons of Othere. And the awaited revenge on the Geats by the Swedes in retaliation for Wulf and Eofor’s killing of Ongentheow. Hygelac, going “to the land of the Frisians, attacked the Hetware,” provoking a feud between the Geats on one side and the Franks, Frisians and Mereovingians on the other side. Beowulf’s father had killed the Wylfling Heatholaf, thus beginning a feud; consequently the Geats “for fear of war, would not have him.” But Hrothgar, young king of the Danes, “paid money to settle your father’s feud, sent treasure … to the Wylfings.”
Even the monsters in the poem are motivated by vengeance: Grendel seeks vengeance on the human race because they have joy and God’s favor whereas he has only God’...
... middle of paper ...
...ly, creating the feeling of insecurity and transitoriness:
The monstrous woman
avenged her son, snatched and killed
one man boldly. There Aeschere died,
wise old counselor, in her fierce attack (2120-23)
The poem Beowulf depicts a world of loyalty, of great uncertainty and insecurity, and of transitory life.
Arnold, Ralph. “Royal Halls – The Sutton Hoo Ship Burial.” In Donaldson Translation, edited by Joseph F. Tuso. New York, W.W.Norton and Co.: 1975
Chickering, Howell D.. Beowulf A dual-Language Edition. New York: Anchor Books, 1977.
Thompson, Stephen P. “The Beowulf poet and His World.” In Readings on Beowulf, edited by Stephen P. Thompson. San Diego: Greenhaven Press,1998.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- In the epic poem of Beowulf the author uses elements of fiction, such as characterization, setting, irony, and symbolism to show the reader that a person’s identity has a measure of control on how they live their life and perceive the world around them. Beowulf opens to the description of Herot, the Danes’ main mead hall. The author describes the hall as a happy place full of joy and contentment. The scene then changes giving the reader a glimpse of the monster, Grendel, who hides in the depths of the kingdom away from society.... [tags: Beowulf, Epic poetry, Fiction, Heorot]
1075 words (3.1 pages)
- Given, the current high profile debate with regard to dating the epic poem Beowulf, it is quite surprising that some scholars go as far as placing it during the Vendel era around 550 - 793 CE. Even though it is considered as a kind of folk tale, many are those who believe it happened towards the early Vendel era. As a rebuttal to this point, it might be convincingly argued that this period is also referred to as the Germanic Iron Age. Moreover, this era saw the rise of Norse mythology, which is very fatalistic in nature; it focuses on a world coming to an end in a great cataclysm.... [tags: Beowulf, Epic poetry, Hero, Homer]
713 words (2 pages)
- Is Beowulf an epic poem. This should not even be a question because it is so obvious that Beowulf is an epic poem. All of the characteristics of an epic poem is in Beowulf. In an epic poem the hero should be from a noble birth and of great and historical importance, also the hero traits reflect qualities important to the society that he is from and performs courageous deeds, even superhuman that reflects the values of the era. All of this is in Beowulf epic poem and there is much more that prove that Beowulf is an epic poem.... [tags: Beowulf, Epic poetry, Greek loanwords, Homer]
1348 words (3.9 pages)
- One of the oldest and most prominent issues that mankind has faced throughout history is that of their own mortality. In every society mankind has wrestled with the inevitable problem of their eventual death, and literature often reflects each society’s take on their mortality. For instance one of the most pronounced motifs in the epic poem Beowulf is the impending doom that each and every character knows will eventually come for them. This is most clearly illustrated by the protagonist himself in his dialogue with other characters.... [tags: Beowulf, Epic poetry, Hroðgar, 11th century]
1468 words (4.2 pages)
- Beowulf: An Epic Poem To qualify as an epic poem, Beowulf reflects the values of the culture in which it was created. The Anglo-Saxon culture and the poem share many of the same values. They shared a heroic ideal that included loyalty, strength, courage, courtesy, and generosity. Like all epic poems Beowulf is a long narrative work that tells the adventures of a great hero and also reflects the values of the society in which it was written. Both Beowulf and the Anglo-Saxons believed in those qualities as an individual.... [tags: Epic of Beowulf Essay]
1672 words (4.8 pages)
- The Origin and Evolution of Beowulf The origin of Beowulf remains a mystery, as both the poet and the year of composition has eluded scholars for centuries. Although "[it] is now widely believed that Beowulf is the work of a single poet who was Christian . . ." (preface, Heaney 29), I see Beowulf as a mosaic of many poets. In this paper, I will argue that with each new translation of this Old English epic, a new author of Beowulf is born. The twenty-first century poet Seamus Heaney, who translated the Beowulf on which this paper is based, injects aspects of his world into this ancient poem. Published in the year 2 000, the inconsistency of this most modern text reveals the messy... [tags: Epic Beowulf essays]
1583 words (4.5 pages)
- A Jungian Reading of Beowulf The epic poem, Beowulf, depicts the battles and victories of the Anglo-Saxon warrior Beowulf, over man-eating monsters. The noble defender, Beowulf, constantly fought monsters and beasts to rid the land of evil. The most significant of these monsters, Grendel, represents Beowulf's shadow, the Jungian archetype explored in the essay collection, Meeting the Shadow. The character Grendel portrays the fallen self, which will assert itself violently if neglected, and must be overcome throughout life.... [tags: Epic Beowulf essays]
778 words (2.2 pages)
- The Theme of Beowulf Interpretations of Beowulf vary. In this essay I hope to state clearly some of the popularly mentioned themes running through the poem. “Many critics feel that the speech of Hrothgar between lines 1700 and 1784 encapsulates the moral of the poem….’He does not know the worse – till inside him great arrogance grows and spreads’” (Shippey 38). Hrothgar’s ominous words do come back to haunt the hero more than once. Beowulf is a braggart; he is proud, and nothing seems able to change his basic proud outlook derived from his all-powerful physical strength.... [tags: Epic of Beowulf Essay]
982 words (2.8 pages)
- The epic poem, Beowulf, is one of the oldest European epics in existence. When Beowulf was written, the writer incorporated many of the ideals of the Anglo-Saxons. Some of these ideals included loyalty, bravery, selflessness, and justice and were demonstrated in the hero. Both the characters Beowulf and Grendel represent aspects of both good and evil, Christianity and Paganism, and what occurs when they collide with one another. A characteristic of an epic poem is the concern over struggles that humans face, which is presented in a serious manner.... [tags: Epic of Beowulf Essays]
1022 words (2.9 pages)
- Beowulf A writers mind is very intellectual, they tend to have an unparalleled vision within their sense of understanding. The differences of this vision, compared to the levels of understanding, shows itself transversely throughout the novel Grendel and the epic poem Beowulf. Both forms of literature are distinct in the plot and setting, but Gardner’s perceptiveness of Beowulf in his novel differs from the view of the unknown author’s relay of Beowulf in the poem. In the poem, Beowulf is portrayed as an epic hero, brave honorable, and dignified, with vast generosity and munificent loyalty.... [tags: Epic of Beowulf Essays]
628 words (1.8 pages)
- An Analysis of the Epic Poem, Beowulf - A Literary Epic
- The Mead-hall in the Old English Poem Beowulf
- Women in the Epic of Beowulf
- Women’s Roles in the Epic of Beowulf
- An Analysis of the Epic Poem, Beowulf - The Structure of Beowulf
- An Analysis of the Epic Poem, Beowulf - Origin and Evolution of Beowulf