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The Importance Of Beowulf In Modern America

2485 words - 10 pages

The Importance of Beowulf in Modern America By Jennifer Carley Modern culture and literature include many stories of great heroes and fictional adventures. Many people grow up reading about these great adventures and looking up to the heroes of the stories. Heroes are great roll models because they are portrayed as courageous and trustworthy individuals, two very admirable qualities. Despite numerous cultural and technological advancements, life in modern America continues to bear resemblance to the Anglo-Saxon world of the hero Beowulf. The poem Beowulf, though written many centuries ago, still contains the same universal themes of any great action-adventure story in today's society. The poem is about a great hero who overcomes seemingly impossible obstacles until one day meeting his match in battle. The poem's main themes focus on human nature: the qualities of a good leader, the relationship between leader and follower, and the human struggle between good and evil. Since characteristics of human nature have stayed the same, from work place to personal relationships, the similarities between the two worlds are uncanny. The parallels between Beowulf's time and now allow every reader to learn about life in general and its lessons. Even though Beowulf dates back to a very different era, the poem itself not only gives modern day readers a historical view of Anglo-Saxon life, but it also emphasizes on innate human characteristics and themes of life that are universal and therefore is pertinent to modern day readers. Carley 2 Beowulf is a great leader and is considered a hero by his followers and readers of the poem. The qualities that make up a good leader and in turn, a hero, are one of the most important themes in the poem because they outline the standard that every individual in the Anglo-Saxon period must try to live up to. A hero, for one, must be a good warrior: one who demonstrates virtues of wisdom and courage. First of all, it is essential to " be prudent"¦Behaviour that's admired is the path to power among people everywhere" (ll. 20-25). In Beowulf's time, it was wise and admirable to keep ties with family friends in order to uphold alliances that may be useful in the future. The universal idea that acting virtuously is the path to power is easily compared to today's society. Politicians, for instance, must pay close attention to their actions in order to gain respect and power over their citizens. If they betray their own family or friends then it is concluded that they cannot be trusted to keep promises that they make to people they do not even know. One who is able to make wise decisions about his actions is then able to gain power and respect over the community. Being prudent is necessary even in today's world.Courage is another characteristic of a warrior that leaders must embody. Beowulf displays his great courage by...

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