Beowulf Journal Entry
10/3/12 Eric Kleszczewski Mrs. Knudson/English 10A Beowulf (unknown author): chapters 1-17 pg. 21-46 Beowulf Journal Entry #1 Since I was about ten years old, I’ve noticed that small children have no sense of real fear or danger. I have also observed that small children are very possessive and that if a small child is having trouble with something or wants to do something, whether it’s opening a jar, reaching the counter to get something they want, or just opening a new toy, they always want to do it by themselves.
After reading Beowulf and comparing it to my observations, I have concluded that Beowulf possesses some traits of a small child. Beowulf is characterized as a medieval Geatish warrior willing to take on any challenge in order to make a name for himself and is faster than a sea monster, stronger than a demon, more powerful than a dragon. Even with all of these heroic traits, he still acts like a child in many ways.
Throughout the story Beowulf is very possessive and takes a prize from every battle. For example, when he is fighting Grendel’s mother he takes a sword as the prize, from Grendel he takes his arm, and from the dragon he wants to take its treasure “And this dragon’s treasure, his gold and everything hidden in that tower, will be mine or war will sweep me to a bitter death! ”.
Because the story of Beowulf was written down (presumably) by a monk, you can tell that God has been inserted forcefully and does not necessarily fit into the story “Now he discovered-once the afflictor of men, tormenter of their days-what it meant to feud with almighty God: Grendel saw that his strength was deserting him, his claws bound fast, Higlac’s brave follower tearing at his hands. ”. Even though Beowulf is read from the point of view of a Christian narrator telling a Pagan tale, insight as to what the characters are thinking and their backgrounds is also given.
The setting of the story is around 500 A. D. in Denmark and Geatland (today’s southern Sweden), but the narrator still tells us of events that happened in the past. Beowulf is set in a time of danger and violence ruled by just men. The poem is centered on three major conflicts which are Beowulf’s fight with Grendel, Beowulf’s fight with Grendel’s mother and his fight with the dragon which ended up being the death of him. The theme of the story is that Beowulf, having already proven himself a hero and making an identity for himself at home, he wants to do the same abroad to become even more famous.
Hearing of Hrothgar’s problem with Grendel and his most famous of mead halls, Beowulf — seeing an opportunity to spread his fame and prove his strength to a distant land — travels to Herot and boasts to the Hrothgar the king, of his past courageous acts and of his plans to defeat Grendel or be killed trying. When describing the great battles between Beowulf and his adversaries, the narrator tells them with great enthusiasm, but they are also told with a sense of uncertainty as to whether Beowulf will emerge as the victor, “Then she carried him, armor and sword and all, to her home; he struggled to free his weapon, and failed”.
The poem Beowulf is riddled with symbolism as are most ancient works of literature. The banquet in Beowulfs honor before he goes to fight Grendel represents the restoration of order and harmony to the Danish people and the rebirth of the community. The speeches and giving of present and treasures add to the feeling of rebirth. The poem states that Beowulf was praised and glorified by Hrothgar who also gave him advice on how to be king and was said to be the best of kings.
Even though this is stated in the poem, based on my observations of his behavior i believe that he would have made a terrible king and possibly even brought about the downfall of his great nation. I believe this because of his inability to put others before his own pride and honor, his constant pushing to do everything alone and his arrogance that he is the best, strongest, most skillful person alive. He further says that he is unbeatable which shows that throughout his whole life he does not outgrow childish behavior and character traits.
Women have almost no significant role throughout the entire story of Beowulf. The only woman in the whole story is Wealhtheow, Hrothgar’s wife who recites a speech to Beowulf during the banquet and exhibits her gratitude to Beowulf for helping to restore her husband’s greatest mead-hall on Herot. The epic poem Beowulf is about the greatest of warriors, Beowulf who travels to Denmark to help rid its people of a powerful monster who has taken over a mead-hall and is massacring its people and soldiers and to prove to his allies that he is indeed the greatest of warriors.
The contents of the poem are very well written and spectacular however, the title by itself appears meaningless. The Anglo-Saxons payed little attention to minor things like author and title because the purpose of their stories was to entertain people and to immortalize great people and warriors through words. Through reading this story readers can not only be entertained, but also learn about the Anglo-Saxon writing styles, their traditional values such as honor, the meaning of boasting to them, pride and death; and internal conflicts of that time period such as the struggle between Christianity and Paganism .
As seen in this story, Beowulf despite his heroism and good will is still partially a child at heart even as an old man. However Beowulf is not the only hero who acts possesses childish traits. As I read other epics and books, I see that most heroes also possess these traits so Beowulf is not exceptional in exhibiting childish behavior and character traits.