Beowulf: A Geatish Warrior Loyal to His King
Horror, once the symbol of the Scalding’ greatness, is now a place of shame and terror. This continues for twelve years, until Beowulf, a young warrior of the Seats in southern Sweden, hears about Greened and, determined to fight the monster, sails to Hoarder’s lands with fifteen companions. Warthogs, who knew Beowulf father Goethe, accepts Beowulf offer to fight Greened and gives him a feast, though Beowulf and Unfetter, a warrior loyal to Warthogs, exchange insults. That night, the warriors sleep in Horror, with Beowulf keeping watch. Greened arrives and consumes one Of the warriors, then reaches for Beowulf.
Beowulf, famous or his powerful grip, which is as strong as the grip of thirty men, struggles with Greened, tearing off the monster’s shoulder and arm. Greened returns to the fens to die, His arm is hung as a trophy under the roof of Horror. Warthogs gives a second feast to celebrate Beowulf victory. At the feast, Warthogs generously rewards Beowulf with treasure. The scoop sings again, and Beowulf is praised until nightfall. That night, Grenade’s mother comes to the hall from her home in the bottom of a lake, seeking revenge for the death of her son.
She grabs Searchers, a favorite warrior and adviser to Hoarsest, and consumes him, then returns mom. In the morning, the warriors follow her tracks to her lake, where they see Cheerer’s head. Beowulf enters the lake, and swims for hours before reaching her cave at the bottom, He fights with Grenade’s mother, but the sword Hurting, which unfetter lent to Beowulf in a sign of fellowship, fails for the first time. From the treasure hoard in the cave Beowulf seizes a sword forged long ago by giants and kills Grenade’s mother.
He sees Grenade’s body, and removes the head, and takes it and the hilt of the giant’s sword (the blade melted on contact with the monster’s blood) back to Warthogs. There is another celebration in Horror with more gifts and promises Of friendship. Warthogs says he feels like Beowulf is his son, and weeps at Beowulf departure. Beowulf and his men return to the land Of the Seats, where his uncle the king Hegelian, and Haggler’s queen High, greet Beowulf, accepting the treasure Beowulf gives them, and in turn rewarding Beowulf With a sword, praise, and land. Hegelian is eventually killed by the Swedes; his son Hearted. Hough young, takes the throne with Beowulf support. At Hoarder’s death, Beowulf takes the throne of the Seats, and rules in great prosperity and fame for fifty years. In Beowulf old age, a thief finds a passageway into an old barrow. Inside, a dragon guards a treasure trove left there long ago by the last survivor of an extinct people. The thief steals a cup, but the dragon discovers the theft and burns the land, including Beowulf mead-hall. Beowulf, knowing his death is near, decides to fight the dragon. Accompanied by his kinsman Wigwag, ten warriors, and the thief, Beowulf sets out to confront the dragon.
But When Beowulf and the dragon fight, all Of Beowulf men flee except Wigwag. With Wigwam’s help Beowulf kills the dragon, but into before he himself is terribly wounded. Before he dies, Beowulf tells Wiggling rule after him, and to build him a funeral barrow that overlooks the sea. Wigwag chastises the men for abandoning their lord. A messenger sent to tell the Seats of Beowulf death also warns of hard times for the Seats, now that Beowulf is dead. The Seats build a pyre and cremate Beowulf, then construct a barrow overlooking the sea, burying the dragon’s cursed treasure with him.
CHARACTERS Beowulf – The hero of Beowulf, Beowulf is a Stagiest warrior loyal to his king Hegelian. Beowulf father was the warrior Goethe, and his mother is a sister of Hegelian. Despite his noble lineage, Beowulf was a bit of a juvenile delinquent, and little was expected of him. But he soon proved his doubters wrong and grew up to be a great warrior. He has the strength of thirty men in his grasp, and rather remarkable swimming ability. In addition to his great warrior skills, Beowulf eventually becomes a strong, powerful, and generous king.
Warthogs – King of the Danes, the son of Healed, the brother of Harrower, Helga, and the wife of O’Neal the Swede. He is also the father of Hermetic, Horehound, and Peruvian. Warthogs is an excellent and successful king. He builds Horror, a significant hall, and is very generous and wise. Goethe – Beowulf father and the husband Of King Haggler’s sister. Warthogs gave him sanctuary after Goethe, a Stagiest warrior, killed a warrior of the Willingly. Hegelian – The king Of the Seats, son Of Hershel, husband Of High, father Of Hearted, and Beowulf uncle. He is a good and generous king.
High – The wife of Hegelian and the queen of the Seats. Like Wealthier of the Danes, High is a good and generous queen. Hershel – Haggler’s father, and one-time king of the Seats. His life was made bitter when one of his sons (Heathery) accidentally killed the other (Harebell). Hearted – Hegelian and Whaleboat’s son. After Hegelian dies, Beowulf supports Hearted as boy-king of the Seats even though Beowulf could have taken the throne himself. Wigwag – The son of Washstand the Sculling, and a relative of Beowulf, as well as his most loyal warrior. He rules the Seats after Beowulf dies.
Berea – A Seat who competed with Beowulf in a swimming contest as a youth, Walter – Hoarder’s herald. Technically he is a Wendell and not a Dane, but he serves Warthogs the Danish king, Honchos -? The Seat whom Greened grabs and eats in Horror before Beowulf fights the beast. Scold Scoffing – A foundling, he became the first king in the Danish royal line, He is the father of Oboe, and the great-grandfather of Warthogs. Healed – Hoarder’s father, and the king of the Danes. Wealth – The wife of King Warthogs and queen of the Danes, the mother of Heretic and Horehound.
She is a good and generous queen. Unfetter – A Dane, the son of Collage, and a follower of Warthogs. unfetter is a jealous and boastful man without much courage to back it up, though he does become more generous after Beowulf defeats Greened. Heretic – Hoarder’s son and heir. Horehound – Another son Of Hoarder’s. Hurtful – The nephew of Warthogs, the son of Hoarder’s brother. After Hoarder’s death, Hurtful betrays his cousin Heretic, leading to the burning Of Horror by the Heath-Bards. Oboe – Sometimes called Beowulf or Beowulf the Dane, he ruled the Danes after his father Scold Sheering.
He is not the hero Of Beowulf. Searchers – An old Danish warrior and Hoarder’s counselor. Searchers is killed by Grenade’s mother. Freeware – The daughter of Warthogs, and the future wife of Mingled, the prince of the Heath-Bards. Her marriage is an unsuccessful attempt to create peace between the feuding Danes and the Heath. Awards.. Collage – unfetters father, Hereford – An example of a bad king. An early Danish king he was once great but was moved by pride to suppress and kill his own people, Motherly – An example of a bad queen. In her youth she caused people to be killed merely for looking at her.
She is said to have improved, becoming generous, after her marriage to the king of the Angles. Finn – In the story to the Fight at Finishing, Finn is a Frisian king who marries the Danish princess Hilbert, but then battles and kills Hellebore’s brother, Hanna. Hilbert – In the story of the Fight at Punishing, the wife of the Frisian King Pin and sister of the Danish King Hanna, When these two kings fight, she’s caught in the middle, and both her brother and son are killed. Hanna – The king of the Danes in the story of the Bight at Finishing. Hilbert is his sister.
Honest – The Dane who becomes king after Hanna is killed fighting the Frisian in the Bight at Vanishing_ Sigmund – A legendary warrior who killed a dragon. Cain – The Old Testament Of the Bible, in the Book Of Genesis, tells the Story Of how Cain killed his brother Able. Cain was marked by God, so others would know IM and cast him out Of society. The giants, Greened and Grenade’s Mother, are descended from Cain. Greened – A man-eating monster descended from the Biblical Cain. Greened is a “walker in darkness, ” Who is “wearing God’s anger,” and “lacking in joy. Grenade’s Mother – A female version of Greened, she is also descended from Cain. Dragon – A fire-breathing dragon who discovered a lost tribe’s treasure and moved into the barrow, After the dragon terrorizes the Seats, Beowulf fights the dragon. THEMES Family and Tribe In Beowulf (and in the medieval Germanic culture that produced Beowulf), Emily and tribal allegiances determine one’s identity. Characters are constantly identified as the son, wife, or daughter of a particular man, and as members of this or that tribe. Men or beings without tribes-?such as Greened and Hereon -?are described as lonely and joyless.
Without a community or family, these men are incomplete. All of the cultural institutions described in Beowulf, from the giving of gold and gifts to the emphasis placed on loyalty above any personal desire, exist to preserve and strengthen the family and tribe The importance placed on family and tribe in medieval Germanic culture also leads to the incredible number of inter-tribal feuds in Beowulf Preservation of a family or tribe within a hostile environment demands not only unity within the tribe, but the willingness to defend and protect the tribe from outsiders.
The necessity of tribal and family self-defense created a set of formal rules of vengeance between individuals and feuding between tribes. Good Warriors and Good Kings The narrator of Beowulf emphasizes the importance of both good warriors and good kings. But as the story of Beowulf unfolds, it becomes clear that while good kings and warriors share some similar traits, such as courage, loyalty, lifelessness, and might in battle, the values of a good warrior and a good king do not overlap in other fundamental ways.
The differences between good kings and good warriors arise trot the different roles that kings and warriors play in society, As a protector and nurturer, the king must put the good of the people above his own desire for tame and glory. A good king is generous with gifts and gold, provides a haven in which his people can eat and drink and socialize, is powerful and fearless in defending his land and people, and yet does not seek unnecessary conflict that might lead to death for either his people or himself.
A good warrior, in contrast, supports his people through the pursuit of personal fame, whether on the battlefield, in feats of strength, or by purposely seeking out conflict, just as Beowulf does in coming to Hoarder’s aid and fighting Greened. Fame, Pride, and Shame The warriors Of Beowulf seek fame through feats Of strength, bravery in the face of danger, an utter disdain for death, as well as by boasting about their feats Of strength, bravery, and disdain for death.
The quest for fame is Of the utmost importance to a warrior trying to establish himself in the world. Yet the quest or fame can lead to harm in two very different ways. First, a quest for fame can easily succumb to pride. Both pride and fame involve a desire to be great, but while fame involves becoming great in order to bring strength and power to one’s people. Pride involves a desire to be great no matter what. Put another way, fame in Beowulf is associated with generosity and community while pride is associated with greed and selfishness.
Second, a man who seeks fame can also bring shame to himself (and therefore his family) if his courage fails him. And shame, in Beowulf, is not mere embarrassment. It’s a kind of curse that broadcasts to the world that you, your family, and your people lack the courage, will, or might to protect yourselves. When Wigwag rebukes Beowulf men for fleeing in the tact to the dragon, he does not merely say that they have shamed themselves. Rather, he implies that their shame is bound to bring ruin down the entire Stagiest people.
Repetition and Change Beowulf is full of repetitions: the story begins and ends with funerals of kings; Beowulf must fight Greened and Grenade’s Mother; the tale of Sigmund foreshadows Blowflies battle with the dragon; the feuds related in stories told y the bards echo the feuds of Beowulf own time. These repetitions emphasize the continuity of the world and show that events are in many visas just variations of previous events, proceeding in endless procession like the seasons of the year. But repetition also serves a seemingly opposite purpose: it emphasizes change and difference.
Precisely because various events described in Beowulf are so similar, the differences in those similar events become highlighted. For instance, Beowulf opens and closes with the funeral oft different kings, Scold Scoffing and Beowulf. But While Scald’s death comes Of Old age and founds a honesty through succession to a son, Beowulf funeral comes in battle and ends a dynasty because he has no son. Should Beowulf therefore not have fought the dragon, and instead remained to protect this people? Through the contrasts of seemingly similar events, Beowulf highlights how things change and raises questions about characters’ decisions and actions.
Christianity and Paganism Because of its complicated origin, Beowulf has elements of both pagan Germanic culture and Christianity. The story of Beowulf probably originated as an oral tradition sometime in the 7th century. But Christian scribes, who either inserted he Christian overtones to the story, or were working from a manuscript set down by previous Christian who added the Christian elements, wrote the only surviving manuscript of Beowulf in the I Tit century. Suffice it to say that the resulting Beowulf is like a pagan story wrapped in Christianity.
This results in some strange inconsistencies, gore instance, the narrator of the poem describes Warthogs at one point as a pagan who does not know of the true God, and yet all the characters, including Warthogs, constantly thank God for their good fortune. In addition, the pagan concept fate becomes rather hopelessly confused with God’s Will, So that sometimes Beowulf (and the narrator) seems to believe he can affect fate through his courage, while at others either Beowulf or the narrator attributes his success solely to God’s favor.
As you read Beowulf, keep on the lookout for the ways that Christianity and paganism interact in the poem. SYMBOLS Horror and Mead-Hallstead mead-hall is the symbol of a society: it is in this central place that the people gather to feast, socialize, and listen to the scoop (bard) perform and thereby preserve the history of the people. Horror, as the largest mead-hall in the world, symbolized the might and power of the Spear- Danes under Warthogs. Gold, Treasure, and Sifting’s Beowulf, gold, treasure, and gifts are less important for their economic value than their social value.