This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Epic Of Beowulf Themes Of Beowulf

1590 words - 6 pages

The Themes of Beowulf        

 
     George Clark in “The Hero and the Theme” comments on his insights into the theme of the Old English poem Beowulf:

 

The poem opens with an illustration and assertion that success is achieved only by praiseworthy deeds and closes commending the hero’s pursuit of fame. . . .The poem’s creation of Beowulf gives its theme ethical force. . . .The poem’s three great stories lead the audience from an assured vision of a benevolently ordered world to the existential world of its minor stories where only the heroic will can achieve a lasting value, the memory and fame of praiseworthy deeds (271).

 

This essay will treat some of the many interpretations concerning the themes of the poem.

 

Interpretations of Beowulf ‘s theme vary widely. Ian Duncan in “Epitaphs for Aeglaecan: Narrative Strife in Beowulf” states his interpretation for the main theme in the poem:

Arguments for any interpretation of Beowulf have therefore described discursive configurations within the poem which have then been projected outside it to map, explicitly or otherwise, such a context of tradition, genre, ethos, Weltanschauung. The trouble is that the less aware the critic that this is his procedure, the more likely is he to be not “finding” but forming those very intratextual orders by projecting into the poem his own historical assumptions or the contemporary ideological and generic habits of his own reading. . . .Perhaps the central interpretive claim for B is that the monsters are “evil” and the hero “good,” and that the poem is articulated by a thematic conflict between good and evil. . . . (111-112).

 

H. L. Rogers in “Beowulf’s Three Great Fights” expresses his opinion as a literary critic regarding the main theme in the poem:

 

Against the Dragon Beowulf’s armour failed to protect him; his sword broke; he needed help from his companions, but all except one were faithless to him. The treasure he won by his death was buried again with him. . . .In spite of this pattern, I do not believe that Beowulf can be regarded as an artistic unity in the modern sense, or that the poem has a higher theme than the life and death of its hero (236).

 

Most critics would disagree that the main theme is no more than the life and death of Beowulf the Geatish warrior and king. “Many critics feel that the speech of Hrothgar between lines 1700 and 1784 encapsulates the moral of the poem….’He does not know the worse – till inside him great arrogance grows and spreads’” (Shippey 38). Hrothgar’s ominous words do come back to haunt the hero more than once. Beowulf is a braggart; he is proud, and nothing seems able to change his basic proud outlook derived from his all-powerful physical strength. Even shortly before his own defeat against the fire-dragon, our hero is recalling his killing of the great hero of the Hugas with his bare hands:

 

ever since the time,                      in front of the...

Find Another Essay On Epic of Beowulf - Themes of Beowulf

Epic of Beowulf Essay

927 words - 4 pages the extraordinary traits required of a hero. He is able to use his super-human physical strength and courage to put his people before himself. He encounters dreadful monsters and the most vicious of beasts but he never fears the threat of death. His leadership skills are excellent and he is even able to brag about all his achievements. Beowulf is the ultimate epic hero who risks his life countless times for immortal glory and for the good of

Epic of Beowulf Essay

874 words - 3 pages the standards of an epic hero. He strives for excellence and individual glory by doing heroic deeds. He has an admirable set of ethics, is great warrior, and is very loyal to his master. Beowulf is also rewarded for his deeds with fame and fortune. Although both of these men are heroes, the individual circumstances which allow them to achieve this status vary greatly. Oedipus was a man of power and high social status. This was due to

Epic of Beowulf

1271 words - 5 pages Throughout life a man makes many descions which determine the way his life will be lived and the way it will end. All choices a man makes in his life have consequences and each man must account for them. In life, every man must reap what he has sown. The values a man holds to be important in his life govern the choices he makes. The epic Beowulf is a good example of this truth. In the story, Beowulf is a god-like human who possesses a strength

Epic of Beowulf - 806 words

806 words - 3 pages “Beowulf” is definitely a prime example of outstanding literature. The work itself is an arcane accomplishment that welds the hardened steel of the Viking resilience to the more-contemporary Christian theology. The sheer magnitude of the document is the stuff of legend; inspiring countless stories and still sets off light bulbs the world over. For most purposes, “Beowulf” embodies the ideal for epic poetry; thus making it a staple in the

Epic of Beowulf

1225 words - 5 pages The Lead of Beowulf Huy Ngo      Beowulf displays the qualities of a good leader that were mentioned in the speech given by Hrothgar. The speech speaking of the vices and virtues of great political leaders contains many of the same qualities that Beowulf embodies. His boastfulness, generosity and kindness are evidence that he is a good leader and provides for his people. Although the qualities he posses may not be the

The Epic of Beowulf

1227 words - 5 pages The story of Beowulf is a heroic epic chronicling the illustrious deeds of the great Geatish warrior Beowulf, who voyages across the seas to rid the Danes of an evil monster, Grendel, who has been wreaking havoc and terrorizing the kingdom. Beowulf is glorified for his heroic deeds of ridding the land of a fiendish monster and halting its scourge of evil while the monster is portrayed as a repugnant creature that shows no remorse for its evil

Epic of Beowulf

1821 words - 7 pages introduced into english. If all things are to be considered this short essay would turn into a book. I would like to compare and contrast Beowulf, Lanval, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight with some of the modern day creations especially in looking at the values, and belief systems in all of the three “classic” stories. I will apologize in advance to those who will read this and are not familiar to the texts that are mentioned, due to restrictions

Epic of Beowulf - The Conflicts of Beowulf

1961 words - 8 pages The Conflicts of Beowulf              George Clark in “The Hero and the Theme” make reference to an interior conflict within the Beowulf hero himself, and how the hero appears to lose this conflict:   Although a strong critical movement followed Klaeber in taking Beowulf as a Christian hero or even Christ figure, the most numerous and influential body of postwar critics, including Margaret Goldsmith (1960, 1962, 1970), read the

Epic of Beowulf Essay - Alliteration in Beowulf

1355 words - 5 pages 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

Analysis of Epic Poem Beowulf

1647 words - 7 pages vain for it is in true valiance, and bravery, paving the way for the poem to be called a tragedy. Beowulf, like other epics, have distinct hints of themes of tragedy within them. The important thing is not to classify the genre of an epic as merely an epic--but to analyze the very details of said epic that make it otherwise tragic. Such is the case of Beowulf. Beowulfs tragic flaw, his hubris, constantly foreshadows and inevitably leads to the

Epic of Beowulf Essay - Beowulf as Epic Hero

871 words - 3 pages Beowulf as Epic Hero Epic heroes usually exemplify the character traits most admired in their societies, and Beowulf is no exception.  "Beowulf" is set in the Anglo-Saxon society, a time when war was rampant among the many peoples trying to take over the different kingdoms of England.  In this dangerous, violent time people lived in constant peril and jeopardy.  These conditions only allowed people of great bravery to survive and men of

Similar Essays

Epic Of Beowulf Essay 1153 Words

1153 words - 5 pages The 8th century epic poem Beowulf illustrates a loss of community, cultural values and tradition. On the other hand, an elegiac passing of an extraordinary hero and the relationship between the themes of mortality and heroism are well discussed in Beowulf. Beowulf’s character exemplifies the Germanic and the Anglo-Saxon ideals of the hero: strong, fearless, bold, loyal, and stoic in the acceptance of fate. Despite his lack of humility

Epic Of Beowulf Essay

989 words - 4 pages Beowulf The epic poem Beowulf is a story of heroes and monsters, good and evil. The poem tells about the accomplishments and deeds of a legendary Geatish hero who first rids the Danish kingdom of Hrothgar of two demonic monsters: Grendel and Grendel's mother. Later in the story, Beowulf meets a dragon, kills it with the help of Wiglaf, but dies of wounds. No one knows who wrote Beowulf. It was not really written in the way that

The Epic Of Beowulf Essay

1619 words - 6 pages Beowulf is an epic poem that explores many themes and motifs within the Anglo-Saxon society. The Author, who remains anonymous, composed the epic around 1000 A.D. The literature focuses mainly on a Scandinavian warrior named Beowulf, who comes to the aid of Herot, a small town ran by King Hrothgar. Beowulf arises to rid the town of evil forces, such as the demon monster Grendel, and his savage mother who seeks revenge for the death of her son

Epic Of Beowulf Essay 1389 Words

1389 words - 6 pages nations from terrible beings which embody evil. Beowulf contains many themes such as the fantasy of supernatural creatures and the role of woman. However, the main focus of this tale presents both Christian and Pagan ideals. While the epic shows evidence of patristic influences, it more clearly depicts ideals associated with pagan culture and society. Beowulf blends patristic references into a pagan narrative that previously focused only on