Reputation In Beowulf Essay

1017 words - 4 pages

The famous poet James Russell Lowell once said, “Reputation is only a candle, of wavering and uncertain flame, and easily blown out, but it is the light by which the world looks for and finds merit” . Reality stresses the importance to be more concerned with personal character than self reputation, because character beholds who you really are, while your reputation is merely what others perceive. The epic of Beowulf, written in Old English, describes the adventures of a great Scandinavian warrior of the sixth century. Having an outstanding reputation was an important aspect of life, and in the world of Beowulf it was no different.
Having a good name is the same as immortality because the name will be placed in history and will be forever remembered. When introducing himself to the Danes, Beowulf was sure to mention his achievements such as the slaying of a tribe of giants and how he had driven away countless enemies from his homeland. In his eyes, personal reputation is the most valuable possession as he took what ever means necessary in order to build a handsome repituar. After Grendel’s mother seeks him out to exact revenge for the crime that she believes that he has committed against her, he sees this as an opportunity to further his reputation. The definition of justice in terms of Grendel’s mother is to seek out the one who is responsible for the death of her son and take his life as well. This is a justified reason for her to take revenge. Her only son was taken from her and the line is very thin between her and her son because they perceive events as though they were cursed. Being that they are descendants of Cain, the biblical son of Adam and Eve, the brother of Able who Cain believed was blessed by God kills Able out of jealousy. It is said that the descendants of Cain would be the monsters of the earth, and being that Grendel and his mother are ogre’s they are envious, resentful, and angry toward mankind, possibly because they feel that God blesses the humans and because they are ogre’s they never can be blessed . Grendel terrorizes the humans until he is slain by someone who is equal in strength and superior in tactics, Beowulf. Beowulf is brute and his defeat of Grendel and Grendel’s mother validates his reputation for bravery and establishes him fully as a hero. Beowulf states his claim to fame very clearly as his persona is evident in the following:

"Grendel is no braver, no stronger Than I am! I could kill him with my sword, I shall not,
Easy as it would be. This fiend is a bold
And famous fighter, but his claws and teeth...
Beating at my sword blade, would be helpless. I will meet him/ With my hands empty-unless his heart
Fails him, seeing a soldier waiting
Weaponless, unafraid. Let God in His wisdom
...

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