All pieces of literature include multiple themes. Beowulf contains four themes. “A theme in a literary work is a recurring, unifying subject or idea, a motif that allows us to understand more deeply the character and their world. In Beowulf, the major themes reflect the values and the motivations of the characters” (Baldwin). In Beowulf, good v. evil emerges in the fight between Beowulf and Grendel, fate arises in Beowulf’s final battle, and desire for fame appears in the battle with Grendel’s mother. In the fight between Beowulf and Grendel, evil shows in Grendel and Beowulf represents goodness. Darkness shows as a symbol of evil. “A powerful monster, living down in darkness, growled in pain” (1-2). Beowulf sets out to defend the Danish and emerge as the epic hero. “Beowulf, Higlac’s follower, and the strongest of the Geats—greater and stronger than anyone anywhere in this world—heard how Grendel filled nights with horror and quickly commanded a boat fitted out, proclaiming that he’d go to that famous king, would sail across the sea to Hrothgar, now when help was needed” (109-116). When Beowulf sets out to defeat Grendel, he returns with a trophy “ and receives much respect and honor. “Beowulf confronts her in her underwater lair where he is nearly slain himself, but—with the help of a giant’s sword he finds hanging on the wall—manages in the end to kill the she-monster. Finding Grendel’s body there, he cuts off the head for proof of his victory and returns to Hrothgar, who plies him with treasure and advice in another, grander feast” (Beowulf). “Even though Beowulf is the epitome of a good hero and Grendel is a monstrous demon, they're actually a well-matched pair – both are excellent wrestlers and unforgiving warriors. Maybe good and evil don't always look that different in this particular epic” (Shmoop). “There is no such thing as accident; it is fate misnamed” (Bonaparte).During this time, people believe that fate determines everything. The idea that fate is everything is identified in Beowulf’s final battle. More often than not, Beowulf fought with fate on his side. In this battle, fate happens to be against him. “Flames beat at the iron shield, and for a time it held, protected Beowulf as he’d planned; then it began to melt, and for the first time in his life that famous prince fought with fate against him, with glory denied him” (720-725). Signs of fate could vary from the expected to the unexpected. “The monster came quickly toward him, pouring out fire and smoke, hurrying to its fate” (718-720). “In the epic Beowulf, the great hero, states that “Fate always goes as it must” (Yewdaev). Fate arose throughout the epic poem, but varied from working for and against. Everyone wanted fame during this time and many fought for fame. Beowulf strived for fame not only in his people but in everyone. In the battle between Beowulf and Grendel’s mother, a great deal of desire for fame arises. “But Beowulf longed only for fame, leaped back into battle” (605-607). Beowulf’s only worry was fame. “So fame comes to the men who mean to win it and care about nothing else” (610-612). His desire for glory gave Beowulf motivation for his every…
Christianity. All of these things that characterized the Anglo Saxon period are apparent in the epic poem Beowulf.
Beowulf is a timeless example of first century western European Poetry . He shows the tradition of his warrior culture. The deeply ingrained tradition of the Anglo Saxon warriors is overflowing with Honor and protocol. An obvious example of their insistence on honor and bravery when Beowulf tells Hrothgar “To bear a blade or a broad-fashioned target, a shield to the onset; only with…
Beowulf: Three Characteristics of An Anglo-Saxton Epic
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…
September 10, 2013
What embodies the true characteristics of a hero? Within the epic poem Beowulf, the protagonist portrays countless qualities to help define the true essence of a hero. In the ninth century a hero was expected to be courageous, strong, and loyal.
In order to live up to the expectations of a ninth century hero you must be courageous. In Beowulf’s final battle he was well aware he would be encountering his sudden demise but he didn’t flee. Beowulf stayed to fight his enemy…
Makes a Hero Epic?
What is a hero? What does it take to become a hero? It can be said that there are as many answers to these questions are there are heroes. The dictionary defines a hero as, “A person, typically a man, who is admired for courage or noble qualities”. Hero’s have long been the subject of many genres in literature. One of the most revered epic poems is Beowulf. But what makes this poem epic? In the Beowulf unit module from Georgia Virtual School an epic poem “must be…
descriptions of natural features of the Ionian landscape” (Lawall 114). The
fullest account of Homer’s life comes from the city of Heroditus, but this
account and others “seem to be made up of conjecture and tradition” from
his two epic poems (Magill 989). Most scholars think Homer must have lived
in Ionia around the eighth and seventh centuries B.C.E. This seems to be
the most logical answer, but logic often falls short of truth; unless new
evidence surfaces, the world will…
Beowulf As An Epic Hero
Beowulf was an extraordinary epic hero in his time. Epic heroes have many traits that others lack, among these are physical strength, bravery, and wisdom all attributes of Beowulf. It all started out with his family, they were fully christian and strong hearted about it. But also his father on the other hand "was a famous soldier, known far and wide as a leader of men" (175-176). Edgetho (his father) is where he got his strength from and learned…
Beowulf the Epic Hero
Carmela Patriz Lagahit
September 24, 2012
“A Hero is a man who is afraid to run away” – English Proverb. In the epic poem Beowulf by the Beowulf Poet, the protagonist named Beowulf, illustrates the characteristics of a true epic hero by going on a long journey to slay a supernatural being. He also correctly emulates an epic hero by executing daring and courageous deeds that reflect the value of an era. Lastly, by performing actions that determine…
Beowulf, the Hero Beowulf constantly shows that he is a hero worth remembering. He is more than a hero, he is an epic hero. An epic hero is an extraordinary person that reflects a certain culture’s values while performing heroic deeds for others. Beowulf is an Anglo-Saxon epic hero that exemplifies heroic characteristics, such as his faithfulness to debts or oaths, reliance on fate, and boastfulness or pride.
Beowulf’s faithfulness to his oaths and debts is one of the many characteristics that…
Good Triumph over Evil
Beowulf is one of the earliest surviving Anglo-Saxon epic poems. It illustrates the story of Beowulf, an epic hero fated to triumph demonic monster in order to save a kingdom from destruction. In Beowulf, the conflict between good and evil is the main theme. The epic poem portrays Beowulf’s experiences coming from land of the Geats to save Danes. Throughout his adventures, Beowulf is fighting against evil, whether it is Grendel, Grendel’s…