Concept Identification #1
1. The "until" construction
The "until" construction, a prevalent concept in Beowulf, address the harsh realities of living in the Middle Ages. The "until" construction focuses on the cyclic nature of good periods of time shifting to bad. The idea is that times are good until they are not good anymore. However, there is no decision point or reason for the shift to bad. Simply things go bad due to primal strife, or the concept that evil is always present. Evil does not need a reason to happen, it just does.
The "until" construction serves as an important reminder that things are not always going to be good. The reality at the Middle Ages was that life was hash and hard work. People expected turmoil, from natural disasters such as famine or floods, to war within and between nations. They did not have an expectation of happiness, as we know it now, but rather of survival. While the story is told of many years earlier, the writers were from an age that was predominately Christian. This is seen in the "until" construction with its duality of good versus evil as well as the ever presence of evil waiting to appear.
The following two "until" construction examples are from Beowulf and focus on the appearance of monsters following a peaceful period of time. Grendel is introduced with an "until" construction. The beginning of this "until" statement describes times as being pleasant, until the monster Grendel appeared. The Danes are generally happy and enjoying their Mead Hall, Heorot, until Grendel begins terrorizing them. In this instance, the evil or bad is Grendel and the destruction he causes. The second example is when the dragon first appears following Beowulf's many years ruling his kingdom. Things are said to be generally peaceful and happy, until the dragon appears and began to wreak havoc on the kingdom. In both these cases, the people were content, and suddenly monsters, in the form of Grendel and the dragon, appear to makes times hard again. There is no significant reason for these monsters to be create the chaos and destruction they do, the first hears jovial knights at feast and the second over a stolen cup, but rather they represent that concept of evil. How times are good, until evil is present.
2. The lord-thane relationship
Through epics and tales of knights, the lord-thane relationship is an important cornerstone showing the reciprocal nature of the relationships between a king and his retainers. The lord serves as the protector or head figure, while the thanes are like family. The lord has a duty to care for his thanes by clothing, training, protecting, rewarding, and generally providing for their basic needs. In return, the thane has a responsibility to protect his lord and show the utmost loyalty to him.
The lord-thane relationship during this period of warlords and constant turmoil was important to the reputation of a nation and its security. This unique relationship served the purpose of...