Beowulf was written in the eighth century by an unknown author. The story is centered on Beowulf, the main character, who goes to Denmark to offer his assistance in fighting off, Grendel, the monster who has been haunting them. Beowulf most definitely proves to be a hero. His heroism is exemplified first when he kills Grendel, then when he kills Grendel’s mother, and finally when he kills the dragon, called Worm. This makes him a hero because he risks his own life to save the people of Denmark.
The reader first experiences Beowulf’s heroism when he encounters and then kills Grendel. Grendel was a constant threat to the survival of the Danish people because he was using them as food. One night Beowulf awakes to find Grendel over his bed. Rather than trying to escape, Beowulf not only faces Grendel but also pursues him when he tries to escape. Like any other hero Beowulf purses the danger until it is conquered.
The reader experiences Beowulf heroism a second time when he kills Grendel’s mother. Grendel’s mother wanted to avenge her son’s death and went back to the mead hall where a lot of warriors slept and attacked. Beowulf came and was ready to fight but Grendel’s mother fled. Disregarding his own safety Beowulf persistently tracks Grendel’s mother to her cave, where the head of the chieftain was found. Despite how colossal Grendel’s mother was Beowulf stuck it out till the end and eventually stabbed Grendel’s mother leading to her death.
The third time the reader experiences Beowulf heroism is when he fights and kills the dragon, the worm. Once again Beowulf completely disregards his safety and decided to fight this monster. This time Beowulf ended up need some assistance from Wiglaf. Fortunately the worm was killed. However, Beowulf too was injured and was dying. He made a few requests that he wanted to be done after he died for Wiglaf to carry out.
Beowulf, the Oldest and Best Poetic Epic
Poetry is the oldest literary genre written in verse. It has the purpose of producing an illusion on the imagination of the reader, it uses different figures of speech and takes different poems forms. An epic is one of this poem forms and it is “an extended narrative poem recounting actions, travels, adventures, and heroic episodes where the action, often in battle, reveals the more-than-human strength of the heroes as they engage in acts of courage” and they embody the set of values of their nations. In this paper I am going to show that Beowul, the oldest English poem whose author is unknown, is an exceptional example of an epic since it displays three of the typical features of this genre: it is long, there is an embodiment of nation´s values, the main character is a superhuman hero.
To start with, Beowulf is characterized for being an extremely long narrative poem since it consists of the account of the sequence of events written in 3,182 lines. Each line has two main beats and each half-line is joined to the other by alliteration, that is , “two or more word beginning with the same sound”, for example when it says:
“…grim and greedy, he grasperd betimes…” line (121)
This repetition of sounds and its fixed rhythm helped the author narrates this long poem. The fact that there are some framed stories within Beowulf is important too, because they make the epic longer, these are: the story of Breca and the framing story of Beowulf´s battles . Another feature of this epic is that it is full of descriptions: mainly of the mead-hall and banquets, which may sound repetitive to the reader, but it is one of the most important characteristics of the genre, that make it extensive.
The story clearly reveals the m…
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… It is also demostrated when he fought against the monstersa and save the nation from them. He did it because he loved Denmark and the Danish loved and honor him and it is explicit in the story when he says:
“…we here have found
hosts to our heart: thou hast harbored us well
If ever on earth I am able to win me
more of thy love, oh lord of men,
aught anew, that I now have done,
for work of war I am willing still!….”lines (814-819)
The honorable man said that he was willing to fight for the nation when it was necessary. He said so because he was the one who represented Denmark´s values.
Beowulf is a perfect example of an epic since within the story we can clearly recognize some of the typical characteristics of the genre: it is lengthy, the main character is characterized for having a superhuman strength and for emboding the nation´s values.