Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Beowulf :: Epic of Beowulf Essays

Beowulf   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  The translated Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf is the one of the most important works of Old English literature, and is well deserved of the distinction. The epic tells the story of a hero; a Scandinavian prince named Beowulf, who rids the Danes of the monster Grendel, a descendant of Cain, and of his exploits fighting Grendel’s mother and a dragon. Throughout the epic, the Anglo-Saxon author uses many elements to build a certain depth to the characters. Three main important character elements in Beowulf are wealth and honor, Biblical, and man (good) versus wild (evil) themes.   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Many of the characters in Beowulf are, like in most epics, defined by their status. But, in addition to status, the Anglo-Saxon culture also adds an element of honor. To the Anglo-Saxons, a character’s importance as well as their wealth and status was measured not only in monetary terms, but it was also measured in terms of honor, fame, and accomplishments. Hrothgar, King of the Danes, is one example of Anglo-Saxon measurement of importance in Beowulf. In the Prologue, the poet describes his wealth and importance, not only as mounds of gold or jewels, but more importantly his ease of having â€Å"Friends and kinsmen flocked to his ranks, young followers, a force that grew to be a mighty army† (lines 65-67) and his ability to create a â€Å"great mead-hall meant to be a wonder of the world forever.† (lines 69-70) Through this display of proving his ‘position of King,’ Hrothgar proves the full extent of his honor and therefore the e xtent of his wealth and status. Beowulf, the hero-prince, also proves his true wealth and status through his great deeds as defender of the Danes. As he fights and defeats Grendel, Beowulf earns fame and wealth from his companions, as well as from the Danes. More importantly, he earns honor raising him to the level of an archetypical hero. Grendel, however, is the complete opposite of Beowulf. He has no wealth, no honor, and he is infamous as an evil killer. This lack of wealth and honor defines Grendel as a symbol of evil and corruption. In addition to using honor and wealth to define a character, the poet has incorporated Biblical motifs in the epic-poem.   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  As time progressed, the rewriting and touching up of the manuscripts by various sources caused the characters to have Christian characteristics. These Christian themes have become very important to the epic to add an element of depth that wouldn’t be possible in modern times due to the loss of Anglo-Saxon culture and beliefs.

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