An Analysis of the Epic Poem, Beowulf - Anglo-Saxon Customs and Values Reflected in Beowulf

An Analysis of the Epic Poem, Beowulf - Anglo-Saxon Customs and Values Reflected in Beowulf

Length: 1804 words (5.2 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Term Papers

Open Document

Essay Preview

Anglo-Saxon Customs and Values Reflected in Beowulf

 
     Readers today approach the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf with cultural preconceptions very different from those expressed by the author of this poem. This essay hopes to enlighten the modern reader regarding the customs and values from the time of the poem’s composition.

 

 Beowulf makes reference to Ingeld and his wife and the coming Heathobard feud:

 

                                                            in that hot passion

his love for peace-weaver,                    his wife, will cool (2065-66)

 

This is a rare passage, for Anglo-Saxon poetry rarely mentions romantic feelings between spouses. In fact, one’s marital status was even considered insignificant. For example, with the hero himself the poet never mentions whether he is married or not. On the other hand, feelings between men are presented frequently and with surprising intensity. Consider Beowulf’s farewell from Hrothgar and Heorot:

 

Then the good king,                              of a noble race,

great Scylding prince,                            held that best thane

round the neck and kissed him; his tears ran down,

streaked his great beard.                       Wise in his age,

he expected two things,             but one the more strongly,

that never again                         would they look on each other

as in this brave meeting.                        That man was so dear

that he could not withhold                     those deep tears;

fixed in his heart                                    by the bonds of thought,

a deep-felt longing                                for the beloved man

burned in his...


... middle of paper ...


...ld English days.

 

From the above it’s obvious that abundant evidence amply demonstrates that Beowulf truly reflects an Anglo-Saxon culture which is so much different from anything modern readers are used to.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

Chickering, Howell D.. Beowulf A dual-Language Edition. New York: Anchor Books, 1977.

 

Cramp, Rosemary. “Beowulf  and Archaeology.” In TheBeowulf Poet, edited byDonald K. fry. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968.

 

Robinson, Fred C.. “Differences Between Modern and Anglo-Saxon Values.” In Readings on Beowulf, edited by Stephen P. Thompson. San Diego: Greenhaven Press,1998.

 

Collins, Roger and McClure, Judith, editors. Bede: The Ecclesiastical History of the English People; The Greater Chronicle; Bede’s Letter to Egbert. New York: Oxford University Press, 1969.

 

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on Beowulf And Epic Poetry : Does It Make The Cut?

- Beowulf and Epic Poetry: Does it make the cut. Originally an oral poem composed around the eighth century in the Anglo-Saxon culture, but later written in Old English, the story of the heroic Beowulf has been analyzed and debated by people all over the world. Beowulf, the original work as well as Seamus Heaney’s translation, is considered by most scholars to be one of the greatest epic poems to have ever been recorded. Due to the many characteristics and specific guidelines that help to define an epic poem, some may argue that Beowulf does not fit the narrow criteria....   [tags: Beowulf, Epic poetry, In medias res, Muse]

Term Papers
1020 words (2.9 pages)

Essay on The Epic Of The Heart Of Anglo Saxon Literature

- At the heart of Anglo-Saxon literature is the epic poem Beowulf. It was written in Old English somewhere between the middle of the 7th and the end of the 10th century by an unknown poet. Beowulf has come to be recognized as the foundational epic of English and British culture (Shmoop). The story has its roots in a pagan Saxon past, but by the time the epic poem was written down, almost all Anglo-Saxons had converted to Christianity. As a result the poet resolved his new Christian beliefs with the un-Christian behavior of the characters....   [tags: Beowulf, Epic poetry, Hero, Hroðgar]

Term Papers
1529 words (4.4 pages)

Beowulf is an Anglo-Saxon Hero Essay

- According to the definition, a hero is one who embodies the values of their society. In the epic Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf, written by an anonymous author, the character Beowulf is used to convey the value that Anglo-Saxons placed on courage, strength, and loyalty. Courage is certainly a trait which every hero must possess, particularly because no one wants a hero who is a coward. Thankfully, Beowulf is no coward. When Beowulf hears of Grendel’s exploits in Denmark, he travels to the “distant” land, without hesitation, to rid the Danes of that “demon…conceived by a pair of those monsters born of Cain, murderous creatures banished by God”....   [tags: Epic Poems, Grendel, Anglo-Saxon]

Term Papers
693 words (2 pages)

Essay on Beowulf and Anglo-Saxon Symbolism

- Anglo Saxon’s history is well known for their loyalty, courage and bravery. Beowulf our protagonist is symbolized as a hero, who represents the Anglo Saxons at the time. Beowulf earns his fame and respect through battling creatures nobody else would want to face. These creatures symbolize the evil that lurks beyond the dark. Beowulf’s intense battle with these creatures’ symbolizes the epic battle of good versus evil. In the end good triumphs over evil but one cannot avoid death. Beowulf’s death can be symbolized as the death of the Anglo Saxons....   [tags: Epic Poems, Grendel, Anglo-Saxon]

Term Papers
843 words (2.4 pages)

The Epic of Beowulf Essay

- Beowulf is an epic poem that explores many themes and motifs within the Anglo-Saxon society. The Author, who remains anonymous, composed the epic around 1000 A.D. The literature focuses mainly on a Scandinavian warrior named Beowulf, who comes to the aid of Herot, a small town ran by King Hrothgar. Beowulf arises to rid the town of evil forces, such as the demon monster Grendel, and his savage mother who seeks revenge for the death of her son. As he ages, Beowulf presumes his title as king of Geatland, still eager to protect his loyal followers from danger....   [tags: Epic Poems, Grendel, Anglo-Saxon]

Term Papers
1546 words (4.4 pages)

Beowulf - The Achetype of an Anglo-Saxon Hero Essay examples

- In present day's society a hero can be seen as someone who risk their own safety or well-being to help someone else either individually or to help the community. Today's requirement to be a hero can be anyone as long as they make sacrifices for others, in which they can be seen as selfless and caring. Many traits that are portrayed of heroes currently were once used to determine a hero in Anglo-Saxon times. In the epic poem Beowulf, by an unknown author, the protagonist Beowulf is visioned to be the archetype of an Anglo-Saxon hero....   [tags: Epic Poems, Grendel, Anglo-Saxon]

Term Papers
581 words (1.7 pages)

Beowulf: The Ideal Anglo-Saxon Hero Essay

- Originating in the Anglo-Saxon period, the epic poem Beowulf portrays a legendary hero. Beowulf established the earlier form of heroism, and was then later introduced in to the English culture. Praised and admired by many people, Beowulf possesses several distinct traits that allow him to be defined perfectly as an ideal Anglo-Saxon hero; his eagerness to seek glory and fame, rather than richness and treasures, his loyalty and graceful attitude not only to his rulers but also to his followers, and his contradictory beliefs of faith and fate In the Anglo-Saxon society, an ideal hero does not seek riches of gold and treasures; instead, he seeks fame and glory through his accomplishments....   [tags: Epic Poems, Grendel, Anglo-Saxon]

Term Papers
864 words (2.5 pages)

Epic of Beowulf Essay

- The 8th century epic poem Beowulf illustrates a loss of community, cultural values and tradition. On the other hand, an elegiac passing of an extraordinary hero and the relationship between the themes of mortality and heroism are well discussed in Beowulf. Beowulf’s character exemplifies the Germanic and the Anglo-Saxon ideals of the hero: strong, fearless, bold, loyal, and stoic in the acceptance of fate. Despite his lack of humility, Beowulf was the definition of a hero in his own time by his demonstration of chivalry and his important roles in society....   [tags: Epic Poems, Grendel, Anglo-Saxon]

Term Papers
1103 words (3.2 pages)

Essay on Beowulf as a Reflection of Anglo-Saxon Values

- In history, evil men have reigned supreme across many cultures. Some people say that being evil is inherent in every human. If this is true, then writing may be the ultimate way of releasing hatred of the world without hurting anyone. In Beowulf, all of society's evil men can be personified within the demons of Cain. The main demon presented in Beowulf is Grendel. Grendel personifies the exact opposite of what the Anglo-Saxons held dear. Beowulf, the story's hero, is the embodiment of what every Anglo-Saxon strove to become in their lifetime....   [tags: Epic of Beowulf Essays]

Free Essays
451 words (1.3 pages)

Epic of Beowulf Essay - Depiction of Anglo-Saxon Society in Beowulf

- The Depiction of Anglo-Saxon Society in Beowulf The Old-English or Anglo-Saxon era extends from about 450 to 1066. The Germanic tribes from the Continent who overran England in the fifth century, after the Roman withdrawal, brought with them a language that is the basis of modern English, a specific poetic tradition, and a relatively advanced society. All of these qualities and spirit are exemplified in the eighth-century epic poem Beowulf. To begin with, much of the Old English poetry was probably intended to be chanted, with harp accompaniment, by the Anglo-Saxon scop....   [tags: Epic Beowulf essays]

Term Papers
751 words (2.1 pages)