17 October 2014
Beowulf as An Epic Novel
In the novel, Beowulf there are many examples of archetypes and symbols used. A few archetypes that the reader is sure to contemplate while reading Beowulf are heroic and evil forces. Symbols brought to attention in Beowulf are Grendel’s Hand and Mead Hall (Heorot). With the use of archetypes and symbols, the novel of Beowulf is easily classified as an epic. Beowulf’s heroism is the main archetype expressed in the novel. As indicated “ Consider now, famous son of Healfdere, wise prince, gold-friend of warriors, now I am ready for the venture, what we spoke of a while sense; if I should depart from life in thy cause, that thou shouldn’t ever be in the place of a father when I am gone. Be thou guardian to my followers, my comrades, if war takes me.” (Beowulf 27; ch 23) Beowulf plays the role of a leader and does what he can to keep others safe. Beowulf chose to try and defeat Grendel’s mother to save the people from their sorrow. He almost died while fighting, but he was able to find a sword and cut off Grendel’s mother’s head and became the people’s hero. Beowulf says, “Scarcely did I survive that with my life, the struggle beneath water, barely did I accomplish the task, the fight was all but ended, if God had not protected me.”(Beowulf 30;ch 24) Heroism was not the only archetype that stood out in the novel, the archetype of being evil was also represented.
Evil is represented through Grendel who is acknowledged in the book for terrorizing the Danes. As stated, “Forsooth, I tell thee, son of Ecglaf, that Grendel, the fearful monster, had never achieved so many dread deeds against thy prince malice on Heorot, if thy thoughts and mind had been as daring as though thyself sayest.”(Beowulf 11; ch 10) Grendel resembles evil, he is known as the monster in the town. Along with the numerous archetypes in the novel, there are also various symbols.
The main symbol brought to attention in Beowulf would be Mead Hall more commonly known as Heorot. Heorot, in the Anglo-Saxon tradition, symbolizing the importance of valuing community and gathering as a people. It brings people together in a group to enjoy each other. Page 2 exclaims, “ Quickly it came to pass among men that it was perfect” (Beowulf 2; ch 2). Not only was the Heorot the main symbol in the novel, but there were a few