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Epic of Beowulf Essay – Alliteration in Beowulf

Alliteration in Beowulf

The diction of the Old English poem Beowulf is distinguished primarily by its heavy use of allliteration, or the repetition of the initial sounds of words.

In the original manuscript version of the poem, alliteration is employed in almost every line (or two half-lines); in modern translations of the poem this is not so. Beowulf uses alliteration [my italics] and accent to achieve the poetic effect which Modern English poetry achieves through the use of poetic feet, each having the same number of syllables and the same pattern of accent (Wilkie 1271). In lines 4 and 5 of the poem we find:

Oft Scyld Scefing sceapena preatum

monegum maegpum meodo-setla ofteah

The repetition of the “s” sound in line 4 and of the “m” sound in line 5 illustrate alliteration, and this occurs throughout the poem, providing to the listener an aesthetic sense of rightness or pleasure. In 1958 two language scholars, Lehmann nd Tabusa, produced an alphabetized list of every alliterated word in Beowulf. One translator, Kevin Crossley-Holland, in his rendition of the poem in Literature of the Western World, actually includes considerable alliteration, but less than the original version of the poem (Wilkie 1271). The Old English poet would “tie” the two half-lines together by their stressed alliteration (Chickering 4).

The first half-line is called the on-verse, which is followed by the off-verse. Each line of poetry ideally contains four principal stresses, two on each side of a strong medial caesura, or pause, and a variable number of less-heavily stressed or unstressed ones. “At least one of the two stresse…

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…lishing, 2000.

Magoun, Frances P. “Oral-Formulaic Character of Anglo-Saxon Narrative Poetry.” In TheBeowulf Poet, edited by Donald K. Fry. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968.

Renoir, Alain. “Point of View and Design for Terror in Beowulf.” In TheBeowulf Poet, edited by Donald K. Fry. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968.

Stockwell, Robert. P. and Donka Minkova. “Prosody” In A Beowulf Handbook, edited by Robert Bjork and John D. Niles. Lincoln, Nebraska: Uiversity of Nebraska Press, 1997.

Tharaud, Barry. “Anglo-Saxon Language and Traditions in Beowulf.” In Readings on Beowulf, edited by Stephen P. Thompson. San Diego: Greenhaven Press,1998.

Wilkie, Brian. “Beowulf.” Literature of the Western World, edited by Brian Wilkie and James Hurt. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1984.

Moral Disintergration of America Exposed in The Winter of Our Discontent

Moral Disintergration of America Exposed in The Winter of Our Discontent

The Winter of Our Discontent The life of Ethan Allen Hawley, which had for so long held to an irrefutable ethical standard, was about to undergo an unexpected and irreversible change. Likewise he was not alone; progress was descending upon all of New Baytown like the jets which swarmed “with increasing regularity” (196) at the nearby Templeton airfield. With them was coming a new breed, more and more focused on material wealth rather than honesty and principle. Ethan’s fourteen-year old son, Allen, was the embodiment of this new morality by which money was God and “morals are paintings on wall and scruples are money in Russia” (from the movie Sabrina, 1995). There was only one goal for this “forward-looking group” (141): money; and as Allen so clearly states, for them “it’s all dough, no matter how you get it” (91).

Ethan had always believed there existed certain “unchanging rules” (217) of basic kindness and decency which had always, and should always, govern men. He lived his life simply and honestly, guided by visions of his grandfather and Aunt Deborah who had, from his early youth, instilled in him this strong moral foundation; he was” the kid with the built-in judge” (153). The rules, however, were changing, and changing rapidly. No longer would virtue be the deciding factor when faced with temptation; if one stood to gain from a situation, “who gets hurt? Is it against the law?” (34). Quite the contrary, by the new standards, it would be a crime to act on one’s own behalf. Moral consequences were irrelevant; the only consideration was success, and “success is never bad” (239). Those still cl…

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…the end, Ethan’s scheme was a success; the store was his, and the most important piece of property in town now lay under his name. The Hawley name would once again command respect in New Baytown. He had needed only to adopt the new morality for a moment, like a man trying on a different suit . . . The only “trouble with a well-made suit, it lasts too long” (233), a truth Baker knew only too well. Too late, Ethan realized that abandoning his entire code of ethics was not so simple a matter; even if he did return to his old principles, as if he had never strayed from them, his conscience would be forever marred by his indiscretions.

Not hat the rest of the world would ever notice. Maybe he’d got a little blood on his fingers, but Ethan had fought the fight; and more importantly, he’d won. “After all, in the end “it’s all dough, no matter how you get it” (91).

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