Beowulf and Its Characteristics of an
Beowulf: Characteristics of Epic Poem Essay Epic poems have many characteristics. Beowulf, which was an epic poem, followed these characteristics. Beowulf had a basic theme of good versus evil, was written in a formal type of language, and it reflected the values of society. Beowulf had a central theme of good versus evil. Hrothgar, leader and king of the Danes, wanted to get rid of a monster that was killing his people, but he couldn’t. The monster killed his people for twelve years. Then, Beowulf, who was the main character, protagonist, and a warrior of the Geats, was introduced.
He heard of the monster, Grendel, who was terrorizing the Danes and their king, Hrothgar (90-94). Beowulf then went to the Danes’ land and fought Grendel. Beowulf defeated Grendel and ripped Grendel’s shoulder off his body. Grendel ran away to his lake, where he later died. Beowulf, after Grendel runs off, hung Grendel’s shoulder from the ceiling as a trophy. After Beowulf leaves, Grendel’s mother terrorizes The Danes’ land and comes back to kill her. He does so with a giant, mystical sword (269-497). Beowulf returns back to his homeland where he ruled for fifty years (580-591).
While he rules, there is a dragon that started terrorizing his lands. He fought the beast and slew it with the help of his only loyal guard, Wiglaf. Beowulf then dies after the battle from a wound (590-1043). Beowulf, Hrothgar, and these beasts resembled good versus evil in this epic poem. Beowulf was written in a formal type of language. alliteration and kenning were part of this formal language. Alliteration is where a line has at least two words that begin with the same consonant sound. Most lines of this epic poem had alliteration.
For example, “Made in home in a hell…” (18), “Out of all men on earth, one greater…” (144), arm, claw and shoulder and all (395), “To free his weapon and failed. The fight…” (435), “But now the dragon hid nothing, neither…” (598), and “Shields, and shining mail shirts…” (1093). Beowulf also had kenning, which is where two or three words stand for a noun. For instance, in lines 598 through 600 “Mankind’s enemy” and “The might beast” stand for the dragon that Beowulf battles in the story. “The monster” (67), “Mankind’s enemy” (79), “Shepherd of evil” (309), and “Guardian of crime” (309) describe Grendel. That mighty protector of men” (350), “Their prince” (356), “Higlac’s brave follower” (372), and “Her catch” (437) stands in for Beowulf’s name. There was an uncountable more of kennings and alliterations that the excerpt included in the way it were written in the type of formal language. Throughout the story, Beowulf reflected the values of society such as courage, loyalty, and physical strength. Beowulf is show as courageous when he goes to the land of the Danes to fight Grendel, then goes back just to fight Grendel’s mother, and when he goes to fight the dragon alone.
He is brave when he says that he shall fight Grendel alone and with no armor or weapons, just as Grendel had done when he killed the Danes. Beowulf shows physical strength when he is described as “The strongest of the Geats-greater and stronger than anyone anywhere in the world” (91-92). He also “Drove five giants into chains, chased all of that race from the earth” (233-234), “hunting monsters out of the oceans and killing them one by one” (235-237), tears Grendel’s shoulder off of his body and hangs it from the rafters, and carries Grendel’s head when it took four normal-strengthed men to carry it.
Additionally, Beowulf draws a sword hammer made by chain, drew it from its scabbard, and broke the chain o- n it. The sword was “so massive that no ordinary man could lift its carved and decorated length” (489-490). “Nagling broke to pieces, as iron always had in Beowulf’s hands. His arms were too strong, the hardest blade could not help him” (904-907) shows of Beowulf’s exceptional power. Beowulf also showed numerous acts of loyalty. Beowulf would talk to a foreign king as if the king was his own. Beowulf always gives back to his people.
For example, he defeated the dragon and told Wiglaf that all the treasures were to belong to the people of Geatland. Wiglaf was the only one of Beowulf’s men that stayed to help him slay the dragon when, he, Beowulf, was about to die. Hrothgar’s sentry was loyal to Hrothgar when he, the sentry, could have run away when he could tell that Beowulf was a special individual with exceptional armor and weapons and being outnumbered fifteen to one, but he didn’t and stood ground and asked of who and where did he come and why.
There were an abundant amount of other details that reflected the values of society of that time when Beowulf was written. Beowulf was an epic poem set in the sixth century. Since it was an epic poem, Beowulf followed the guidelines of which epics are supposed to. Some of these characteristics are that epic poems are written in a formal type of language, reflect values of societies, and have a basic theme of good versus evil. We learn that the culture of when Beowulf was set that trophies were important, as we saw when Beowulf hung Grendel’s shoulder and, later, his head.
Also, as part of the trophies, there were the treasures that Beowulf found and took whenever he defeated a foe. We learn that Anglo-Saxons were just learning Christianity because the book accounts for both Pagan beliefs (monsters) and Christianity (God). Beowulf is shown as a very person with an infinitive amount of strength, but also very loyal. Beowulf shows respect and answers with humility towards foreign kings. Beowulf struggles with all of the monsters he meets but always wins manages to slay them.
We see that Beowulf is humble to his people when he leaves the dragon’s treasure to them before he dies. Grendel, as evil, came from Cain, is very strong, very stealthy or just smart because he attacks at night and nobody hears him until it’s too late. Works Cited Wilhelm, Jeffery D. , Douglas Fisher, Beverly Ann Chin, and Jacqueline Jones Royster. “The Epic Warrior. ” Beowulf. Columbus: McGraw-Hill Companies, 2010. 19-52. Print. epic poem