Beowulf: Oral Literature In Writing: [Essay Example], 809 words GradesFixer
close
This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by professional essay writers.

Beowulf: Oral Literature in Writing

  • Category: Literature
  • Subcategory: Books
  • Topic: Beowulf
  • Pages: 2
  • Words: 809
  • Published: 21 April 2018
  • Downloads: 358
downloadDownload printPrint

Pssst… we can write an original essay just for you.

Any subject. Any type of essay.

We’ll even meet a 3-hour deadline.

Get your price

121 writers online

Beowulf: Oral Literature in Writing essay
Download PDF

Beowulf: Written Oral Literature

Pssst... we can write an original essay just for you

Any subject. Any type of essay.

We’ll even meet a 3-hour deadline.

121 writers online

Beowulf, transcribed by Christian monks around the eighth century, is originally an oral piece of literature meant to be performed. To keep the listener interested in the piece and to make it easier to remember and retell, Beowulf uses the conventions of kennings, alliteration, and hyperbole to tell the tale of Beowulf. These devices are used to make the tale easier to remember and more appealing to both the performer and listener. The poet who transcribed Beowulf for his Christian audience keeps these conventions intact to preserve the feel of an oral work.

The first of these poetic conventions is a metaphorical compound word or phrase used especially in Old English and Old Norse poetry, called a kenning. This type of metaphor is used as a substitution for the usual name of a person or thing. The epic Beowulf uses two different types of kennings to help prevent constant repetition of names. The first type of kenning simply substitutes a title for the person’s name. So instead of constantly saying Beowulf the orator uses such kennings as “the Geatish hero,” “son of Ecgtheow,” and “the Lord of the Seamen.” The ways in which Beowulf is referred to are simple examples of kennings, but Beowulf also uses more metaphorical kennings to prevent repetition.

The second type of kenning in Beowulf is formed by creating a phrase composed of two nouns, that describe a characteristic of the original noun. These kennings then give quick, vivid descriptions of the original noun without having to restate it. Without over using the word sea or ocean, the poet uses “swan’s-road” (Beowulf ll 200) or “whale-road” (ll 10) to give a clear mental picture of a place where these water creatures would travel. The poet who transcribed this traditional story also keeps many other kennings. The sun is referred to as the “sky’s candle” (ll 1571) or “heaven’s gem,” (ll 2072) both giving clear images of a bright light in the sky. Grendel is also referred to by his own set of kennings, such as “corpse-maker,” (ll 276) and “God-cursed” (ll711) to show his destructive power. In just two words, “steel-hail” (ll 3116) the author quickly shows the danger of being assaulted by incoming arrows.

Need help with writing?

You can order professional work according to specific instructions and 100% plagiarism free.

The second convention used by the author, to make the poem easier to remember and recite, is alliteration. Alliteration is the repetition of usually initial consonant sounds in two or more neighboring words or syllables. As well as making the work easier to memorize, alliteration also gives the work its own rhythm and poetic voice. Excerpts like “he had healed” (ll 829), “God-cursed Grendel” (ll 711), “hard helmet, hasped” (ll 2255) all add to the rhythm of the work. In each of these selections, each word begins with the same letter, and the repetitive consonants give the poem a chanting quality when read aloud. This ritualistic, chanting rhythm adds much to the work without adding any extra lines to memorize, as well as making it easier to remember and recite.

The third convention, hyperbole, or extravagant exaggeration, is used to keep the audience interested, by making the story more interesting to the listener. It is more entertaining to state that Beowulf “renounce[s] sword and the shelter of the broad shield” ( ll 436-7) than to say he is brave. When the poet states Grendel “ripped open the mouth of the building, maddening for blood” (ll 723-4) it makes the monster seem even more horrifying, and the encounter becomes even more tense and gripping to the reader. Boasting is a vital part of the warriors’ ritual before doing battle with an opponent; not only does it lift the warriors’ morale, but it also adds to their fame when a boast can be fulfilled. This exaggeration does more than add to the tone of the poem, it also audibly mirrors the hero’s need to boast before doing battle with the monsters. So, the hyperbole is used to solidify the fact that boasting was a major part of the hero’s deeds.

The kennings, alliteration, and hyperbole all serve different functions within Beowulf to add to the poem’s meaning. These three simple devices affect the tone of the poem as much as the poetry itself. Although the monk who transcribed Beowulf adds Christian elements to make it more palatable for his audience, he does his best to keep the original “flavor” of the text intact. Through keeping the traditional elements of this oral epic, the poet has preserved Beowulf’s culture as well as his story. The poet captures many things that would otherwise never be known about the extinct Geat people. Beowulf can be considered to be long and wordy, but if one allows themselves to experience its vivid kennings, chanting alliteration, and fantastic hyperbole the epic comes alive to reader and listener alike.

infoRemember: This is just a sample from a fellow student.

Your time is important. Let us write you an essay from scratch

100% plagiarism-free

Sources and citations are provided

Find Free Essays

We provide you with original essay samples, perfect formatting and styling

Cite this Essay

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below:

Beowulf: Oral Literature In Writing. (2018, April 21). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 23, 2021, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/beowulf-written-oral-literature/
“Beowulf: Oral Literature In Writing.” GradesFixer, 21 Apr. 2018, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/beowulf-written-oral-literature/
Beowulf: Oral Literature In Writing. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/beowulf-written-oral-literature/> [Accessed 23 Apr. 2021].
Beowulf: Oral Literature In Writing [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2018 Apr 21 [cited 2021 Apr 23]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/beowulf-written-oral-literature/
copy to clipboard
close

Sorry, copying is not allowed on our website. If you’d like this or any other sample, we’ll happily email it to you.

    By clicking “Send”, you agree to our Terms of service and Privacy statement. We will occasionally send you account related emails.

    close

    Attention! this essay is not unique. You can get 100% plagiarism FREE essay in 30sec

    Recieve 100% plagiarism-Free paper just for 4.99$ on email
    get unique paper
    *Public papers are open and may contain not unique content
    download public sample
    close

    Sorry, we cannot unicalize this essay. You can order Unique paper and our professionals Rewrite it for you

    close

    Thanks!

    Your essay sample has been sent.

    Want us to write one just for you? We can custom edit this essay into an original, 100% plagiarism free essay.

    thanks-icon Order now
    boy

    Hi there!

    Are you interested in getting a customized paper?

    Check it out!
    Having trouble finding the perfect essay? We’ve got you covered. Hire a writer

    GradesFixer.com uses cookies. By continuing we’ll assume you board with our cookie policy.

    exit-popup-close

    Haven't found the right essay?

    Get an expert to write you the one you need!

    exit-popup-print

    Professional writers and researchers

    exit-popup-quotes

    Sources and citation are provided

    exit-popup-clock

    3 hour delivery

    exit-popup-persone