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… seems fitting that Beowulf’s worth to society is parallel to his capacity for violence. Because violence is an essential tool used to produce social change and improve society men like Beowulf will always be needed. Whose violence conquers all? Beowulf’s violence conquers Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the dragons’ violence in the poem Beowulf. Revenge is proven to be a tool used to facilitate the cyclical nature of violence and conflict through these three monsters and in each instance a change occurs. Society is changed and improved through these conflicts and these conflicts are solved through violence.
Kendall, Diana, Linden, Rick and Murray, L. Jane. Sociology In Our Times: 5th Canadian Edition. United States: Thomson Wadsworth.
“Beowulf.” Norton Athology: English Literature. Ed. Seamus Heaney. New York: Norton
Epic of Beowulf Essay – Honor and Dishonor
Beowulf: Balance of Values
Symbolizing honor and strength, control of the “wine-hall” passes into the hands of the victor, under the traditional laws of the Danes and Geats. As Beowulf triumphs over the fiend, Grendel, he casts off the shame and dishonor which would have befallen him, and full control of the wine-hall, as well as territorial supremacy, are clearly his. Only later in the poem does Beowulf begin to lose the primacy that had been exclusively his domain. Even in death, however, Beowulf is immortalized by the members of his tribe, and by the writer, as he passed into glorious history His funeral pyre, and monument on the coast, bore witness to his greatness.
It seems that the avoidance of shame and dishonor in one’s youth establishes a life-long pattern in Geat Society, whether minor failures are registered later in life or not. Once a great warrior, Beowulf remains one. His people thrive on his noble character and triumphs; his opponents tremble at his name, in awe and respect.
Further, inter-tribal generosity and openness, for example, during scenes of thankfuness for the victory over Grendel, are also qualities which shine forth throughout this saga, further advancing the premise that this Geat warrior-king and his people embody all of the characteristics thought noble and high-minded in the eyes of his tribesmen.
The obvious premium placed on the “honor of victory”, and the “shame of defeat” is demonstrated again and again in violent confrontations which punctuate this dramatic tale. The narrator seems to persist in focusing on the same acts of valor, varying the descriptions only slightly, as one passage melts into the next. On many occasions, women surround the victor; wine, treasure or tribute are exchanged and valiant acts are praised in song and dance.
Nonetheless, destruction of one’s reputation is possible, as well, as the poet points out in the tragic episode dealing with Haetheyn who inadvertently killed his own kinsman.