October 22, 2012
Beowulf: Three Characteristics of an Anglo-Saxton Epic
The story of Beowulf teaches many characteristics of Anglo-Saxton epics. Three of those characteristics in Beowulf are: making the hero look larger than life, over exaggerating their story, and revenge. Knowing these qualities, one can get some understanding of Anglo-Saxton epics. Over exaggeration is key in Anglo-Saxton poems. If not for the exaggeration, it would be just like all other stories from long ago. With the exaggeration, people can get a mental image of what is really happening, also hyperbole draws the reader in. One example of over exaggeration is, “Twice six feet tall, with arms of hairy gorilla” (Serrallier 18-19). This description gives the reader a mental picture of a huge giant that cannot be real, but, with the help of willing suspension of disbelief, the reader can go along with the image even when he knows it is not possible. Another scene in Beowulf shows his fighting Grendel’s dam under water which is another case of over exaggeration. Beowulf is a hero who is larger than life. He is shown throughout the whole story doing things the average man could not come to grips with doing. He fights three monsters he is evenly matched with. In one scene, he fights Grendel’s dam under water in her lair and comes out victorious. Before this scene, he is shown with super human strength, “Alone Beowulf/ tore Grendel’s arm from his shoulder asunder, / wrenched it from the root while the tough sinews cracked’ (14-15). This action shows the reader Beowulf is an epic hero. Without revenge, Beowulf would not be a very interesting story. All the action in Beowulf is based on revenge. King Hrothgar gets the gods angry at him by building the great Heorot.