The Symbolism Of Heorot Hall Essay

1390 words - 6 pages

Loyalty is the act of being faithful to one’s obligations and commitments. Such a characteristic may not be very obvious in today’s world; however, it certainly is prominent in the Anglo-Saxon society. The pattern of loyal dependency is basic to Anglo-Saxon life. It grows out of a need to protect individuals from the horrors of enemy-infested wilderness. Loyalty, an extremely valued ideal in the Anglo-Saxon community, can be seen in many works written from that time period. In the epic poem Beowulf, the author utilizes characterization of women, and symbolism of Heorot Hall, and depictions of brotherly love to show that loyalty is needed to keeping harmony within a society that is under constant threats.
The characterization of women proves that loyalty is essential to having a harmonious society that is under perpetual threats. Near the middle of the poem, a minstrel performs a tale for those in Heorot Hall. The tale is about the battle between the Danes and Frisians. The author characterizes Hildeburh as a gift, revealing that loyalty is important to keeping a harmonious society that is always threatened. He writes, “Finn was cut down, the queen brought away and everything the Shieldings could find inside Finn’s walls-the Frisian king’s gold collars and gemstones-swept off to the ship. Over sea-lanes then back to Daneland the warrior troop bore that lady home” (1153-1157:81). Here, Hildeburh acts as a mediator and remains loyal to her son and her brother despite their being on opposing sides. It is suggested that Hildeburh is acceptable of returning back to Denmark because as an Anglo-Saxon woman, she knows that she must abide by the rules of peace-keeping. The fact that the author does not include her reaction of coming home further emphasizes that she is okay with it. Thus, this loyalty to her hometown and to her family brings harmony to the feuding society because when she is brought back to Denmark as a gift, the war between the Danes and the Frisians officially ends. Moreover, the loyal Hildeburh symbolizes harmony by providing a contrast to the ubiquitous blood-feuds; she reveals the tragedy of them. Next, after Beowulf returns home, he tells King Hygelac about his adventures. He speaks about King Hrothgar’s daughter. The characterization of Freawaru as a typical Anglo-Saxon woman loyal to her duties proves that such loyalty is required to ensure harmony in a susceptible society. Beowulf states, “I heard the company call her Freawaru as she made her rounds, presenting men with the gem-studded bowl, young bride to be…this woman will heal old wounds and grievous feuds” (2022-2029:139). First of all, by serving drinks to the men, Freawaru is cementing social bonds, a duty of an Anglo-Saxon woman. By solidifying social bonds, the men establish unity and good friendships between each other. As a result, Freawaru guarantees that harmony will be evident in their threatened society. The “gem-studded bowl” that Freawaru presents to the men...

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