February 9, 2013
Anglo-Saxon Literature Analysis and Response
Anglo-Saxon literature is one of the most debated over and researched literatures. Many debate on its connotations and deeper meanings. Whether an epic poem, or short story, the thoughts and motivations behind the writings go deeper than the words can appear. Many have deciphered the writings and believe that most if not all writings have an origin from a biblical stance, even when the writing seem graphic and distant from religion (Simpson). There is also research that suggests that most of the writings take place in the East or in reference to the East (Estes). There are many pieces of literature from this time, but they all revolve around the same core of beliefs and ideals. Most of the Anglo-Saxon literature was passed down from generation to generation. “The East”, was a prominent theme in many of the stories that were conveyed at this time. It was an important part of the Anglo-Saxon literature (Estes). It was once thought of as a holy ground, and it started fading, because it became real. The literature including everything from the Letter of Alexander to Beowulf, was in essence trying to capture the ideals that were the east. However, the Anglo-Saxons were, like so many people of that time, were unable to write. They had to use a more primitive way to pass their story down from generation to generation. It was called a “pagan saga”, and they told their stories to the next person verbally, and relied on memory to keep the stories circulating (Simpson). Some of the stories, that were passed down, contained what churchmen believed were “barbaric values” (Dalrymple). These churchmen were some of the few who were able to write. They wrote down the Anglo-Saxons stories and poems. However, because they disagreed with them, parts of the stories did not always make it into writing (Dalrymple). Therefore, to this day we are still unsure if the poetry from this time period holds true to the original. Although there are many different styles of writing, during this era, and many different poems and stories, one poem has stood the test of time.
Beowulf is the longest and considered the most important poem that Anglo-Saxons had to offer. It is considered the most so prudent, because it was the first post classical European epic (Estes). Beowulf is also so significant because of the balance it creates. Representation of both masculinity and social unity are seen in this poem. Monstrosities are counteracted and contrasted with femininity. By having this unique balance Beowulf caused