Use of Digressions in Beowulf Essay examples

Use of Digressions in Beowulf Essay examples

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The author of Beowulf cleverly uses digressions throughout the work in order to foreshadow events or give more insight on a situation. Some digressions may be used as guidance in how to live one’s life. The digression on page fifty-two in lines 884 through 914 of Beowulf in The Norton Anthology: English Literature Volume A, the entertainer who is singing in Beowulf’s honor after he slew the monster Grendel. To the characters of Beowulf, the song is simply entertainment, but to the reader it is foreknowledge of future events that will unfold as the story continues. The digression is used to hint to Beowulf’s fight with the dragon, becoming king, and tell what kind of king Beowulf will not be in the future.
The digression begins as a story of a legendary king named Sigemund who is very similar to Beowulf. Sigemund and Beowulf have the same characteristics that earn them glory and fame; both of the men are admirable warriors known for bravery, high moral values and leadership qualities. The digression also is foreshadowing Beowulf’s destiny to become king of his people and his future battle with a dragon; the details of Sigemund’s fight with the dragon and Beowulf’s match up almost perfectly. The dragons are massive beings that guard an enormous hoard of treasures and valuable metals; the Kings feel fight honorably to protect the people and defeat the beast. Sigemund enters the dragon’s lair by himself in hopes of killing the dragon and winning the hoard for his people. Similarly, Beowulf will go into the dragon’s den by himself because his warriors are cowardly and hide behind a rock.
Moreover, this move will be the beginning of Beowulf’s downfall. Beowulf had a difficult time transitioning from a dedicated warrior to a king; h...


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... page fifty-two allows the reader to understand Beowulf’s personality through the tale of another person who has similar destiny as Beowulf. By the end of the digression the reader should also understand more of what Beowulf’s personality is not like and how he will not fall to the same faith of many men of power. This digression also highlights respectable social values that every person, king or not, should have in their character. Multiply digressions throughout the poem warn against the evil affects power and greed can have on once honorable men.



Works Cited

1. Tolkien, J. R. R., and Christopher Tolkien. The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009. Print.

2. Christ, Carol T., Catherine Robson, Stephen Greenblatt, and M. H. Abrams. "Beowulf." The Norton Anthology of English Literature. New York, NY: W.W. Norton &, 2006. Web.

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