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Beowulf: a Perfect Anglo-saxon Hero

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Words: 817 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: May 7, 2019

Words: 817|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: May 7, 2019

Beowulf, an epic poem written in old English, reflects many of the Anglo- Saxon societies ideals that we have seen. Many of these Anglo- Saxon ideals include: admiration for outstanding courage, belief in the importance of loyalty to a leader and to the tribe, value of fierce personal valor, receipt of persons of rank with grave courtesy, the ruler was expected to be generous to those who were loyal and vice versa to those who were not, in turn everything was thought to be determined by an impersonal, and irresistible fate, finally everyone competed for fame, the only thing that ever lasted. In Anglo-Saxon times a hero would be best defined as someone with the likeness of Beowulf. Beowulf being looked up to as a perfect humble hero can only be described as someone in these ideals.

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The ideal of Beowulf is related to those of Kings, in the sense of how a King runs his kingdom and his men. Kings in the epic poem are those of medieval times, in contrast those in Anglo- Saxon times were not actually kings but those who instead ruled large lands or pieces of territory. But the similarities between the two are very large. Kings referred to in Anglo-Saxon times ruled over a bit of land and some people, yet, over a hill or two would be another “king” who ruled his bit of land, and so on and so forth. All it took for a person to be displaced, was for one “king” to attack and take over another “king’s”territory. Grendel is the primary example of this in the story.

Beowulf comes across as rather brash and egotistical, but to the Anglo-Saxon society this was something they valued. Beowulf, in Anglo-Saxon society, would have been considered a daring and confident young man who was proud of his actions and could use his past endeavours to motivate himself towards future success. This society believed in a concept revenge that resulted in a revenge cycle. If someone killed one of your men, you were obligated to avenge his death, but then that group was obligated to avenge that death. This is evidence is found in Beowulf's killing of Grendel, but Grendel's mother seeking retribution. (Lines 90-104) The cycle only ends because there is no one left to carry out the legacy.

Anglo-Saxons also believed in the concept of fate, called wyrd. There are numerous different references to wyrd in the text, so while the characters take actions to defeat their enemies, they are also aware that fate has a hand in the situations and outcomes of man. “Each of us must await the end of his path in this world, and he who can, should achieve renown before death! That is the best memorial when life is past and a warrior's days are recounted.” (Chapter XXI line 3-5.)Loyalty as shown in this quote was also another important concept in Anglo-Saxon times. Loyalty was something of the utmost importance to the king and their fellow men. Something along the lines of breaking this would mean utterly punishment and betrayal in the eyes of one’s comrades. “And a young prince must be prudent like that, giving freely while his father lives so that afterwards in age when fighting starts steadfast companions will stand by him and hold the line. Behaviour that’s admired is the path to power among people everywhere.” (lines 20–25)

As stated before, Grendel is considered one of the examples of unfavorable Anglo-Saxon ideals. Depicted as a monster or a giant, Grendel is feared by all but Beowulf. Grendel is the concept of greed and the corruption of men and power in the Anglo-Saxon “kingship”. The dragon that spoke with Grendel being the main cause for this source of greed. The exchange between grendel and the dragon is a good example of this, the dragon wanting the money believing what grendel feels is nothing he should concern himself with. “He shook his head. “My advice to you, my violent friend, is to seek out gold and sit on it.” But also the confliction of men as humans are that they can be, the splitting between what is right and what was enjoyed. “Thus I fled, ridiculous hairy creature torn apart by poetry—crawling, whimpering, streaming tears, across the world like a two-headed beast, like mixed-up lamb and kid at the tail of a baffled, indifferent ewe—and I gnashed my teeth and clutched the sides of my head as if to heal the split, but I couldn’t.”

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Beowulf is depicted as the perfect hero as I stated before, thus many hold a belief that Anglo-Saxon ideals are best depicted in his likeness. The greed and corruption of men, in likeness to grendel. As well the heroism and humbleness nature of men known as Beowulf. Also the harmless innocence of curiosity which leads man to corruption, found in Grendel, during the earlier times. .

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Cite this Essay

Beowulf: a Perfect Anglo-saxon Hero. (2019, April 26). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 18, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/beowulf-a-perfect-anglo-saxon-hero/
“Beowulf: a Perfect Anglo-saxon Hero.” GradesFixer, 26 Apr. 2019, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/beowulf-a-perfect-anglo-saxon-hero/
Beowulf: a Perfect Anglo-saxon Hero. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/beowulf-a-perfect-anglo-saxon-hero/> [Accessed 18 May 2024].
Beowulf: a Perfect Anglo-saxon Hero [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Apr 26 [cited 2024 May 18]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/beowulf-a-perfect-anglo-saxon-hero/
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