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Literary Analysis Of Beowulf English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1158 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Ever sense the beginning of time there have been epic stories about heros and courageous leaders who take down evil and bring peace to the people they protect, Beowulf is no different from this. Beowulf is an epic story that relates well to the time that it was introduced by having the stories of the epic battles and the defeats of the treacherous monsters that kept everyone entertained during this era. Not only does Beowulf represent the era well but it also has very interesting characters, themes and symbols that help teach us lessons that are very much so needed in today’s society. Beowulf teaches us courage, it shows us characters such as Beowulf himself that are true to his word and self-confident, and it also shows us symbols that give an image of God and the hope that he brings to the people that believe in his word.

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When Beowulf arrives to the land of the Danes, as soon as they dock and get off of their ship Beowulf shows his courage instantly by taking the lead and explaining to the guards that watched out for raiders and enemy ships approaching who they were and where they were from so that they may advance to the Heorot which he had heard much about. After they get inside Heorot Beowulf truly shows his courage when he tells Hrothgar about all of the triumphs he had when he was younger and how when he heard of their problem with Grendel and how he planned to be a match for him so that he could be the one to bring peace back to Heorot. “The news of Grendel, hard to ignore, reached me at home: sailors brought stories of the plight you suffer in this legendary hall, how it lies deserted, empty and useless once the evening light hides itself under heavens dome. […] Now I mean to be a match for Grendel, settle the outcome in single combat.” (410 – 414 & 425-426) He also explains how he isn’t afraid of death because if he is going to die it will happen whether he wants it to or not and by doing this he gives king Hrothgar peace by knowing that he is courageous enough to take on this challenge and not be afraid by the terror that his people have been facing for the last 12 years. “whichever one death fells must deem it a just judgment by God […] Fate goes ever as fate must.” (440-441 & 455).

Not only is Beowulf extremely courageous but he is the mold that hero’s model themselves after he is noble, true to his word and his unquestionable trust in his skills. When Beowulf gets to Heorot and they begin to feast Unfearth goes up to Beowulf and questions the race that he and Brecca had in the fierce open sea saying that no matter what he had done before that he would not be able to defeat Grendel because many great warriors had come before him and his fate would be no different, however Beowulf has trust in his skills that God has graced him with just as he did when he raced Brecca in the open sea. “The truth is this: when the going was heavy in those high waves, I was the strongest swimmer of all” (532 – 534). By Beowulf saying this he is letting Unfearth know that now as well as when he raced Brecca he is the best and will not be beaten. Beowulf then begins to challenge Unfearth’s skills by saying if he was really as courageous as he has been saying he is then Grendel wouldn’t be able to get away with killing all of Hrothgar’s people and that Beowulf will show Grendel different and that he will show him his skill. “He knows he can trample down you Danes to his heart’s content, humiliate and murder without fear of reprisal. But he will find me different. I will show him how Geats shape to kill in the heart of battle.” (599 – 603) Beowulf by saying this is showing that he has great confidence in his skill as a warrior and that he do what Unfearth has been unable to do, which is free Heorot of their burden of Grendel. Later in the story Grendel appears in the night to eat the bodies of the soldiers that are in the middle of their slumber inside of Heorot and Beowulf is waiting for him to do as he said he would. After their battle Grendel had been beaten by Beowulf “Grendel was driven under the fen-banks, fatally hurt” (818-819) by defeating Grendel Beowulf was true to his word and accomplished what he had set out to do “The Geat captain had boldly fulfilled his boast to the Danes: he had healed and relieved a huge distress” (827 – 829).

Beowulf has many things inside the story that a symbolic of God and how he can deliver us from our demons, or Grendel in this case that constantly torment us and cause us dismay in our everyday lifes. When Beowulf is at the feast when he arrives at Heorot he is sitting at a bench when the helming woman came by to give him a drink “with measured words she welcomed the Geat and thanked God for granting her wish that a deliverer she could believe in would arrive to ease their afflictions.” (625 – 628) When she tells him this it gives a kind of Godly presence to Beowulf that he is their savior and he will relieve them of their transgression that is Grendel and his murderous ways. In the beginning of the story it talks about how a leader will come one day that would be set apart from others that had come before to deliver the Danish people from all their problems. It also states that the shield was still alive when it was the man’s time to go into the lords keeping. “Shield was still thriving when his time came and he crossed over into the Lords keeping.” (26 – 27) This is symbolic of how the shield is God’s word and God’s protection over us how when we have it with us in our lives we will be taken by him when our time comes to spend eternity in his kingdom. Another interesting symbol in the story is Grendel the story often refers to him as “God-cursed” (711) which is similar to the devil who was banished and cursed for the rest of eternity just as Grendel was as he was always living in torment and all that would ease him is the pain and suffering of others such as when he arrived at Heorot and saw all the men sleeping there. “… his glee was demonic, picturing the mayhem: before morning he would rip life from lib and devour them” (730 – 732) Grendel enjoyed causing misery in the lives of the Danes much like the devil enjoys seeing suffering in our lifes.

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Beowulf is an amazing story that teaches us courage, it shows us characters such as Beowulf himself that are true to his word and self-confident, and it also shows us symbols that give an image of God and the hope that he brings to the people that believe in his word. Whether its courage or just teaching us to believe and trust in God through any transgressions that we encounter in life Beowulf can teach us many valuable lessons that can help make us better people.


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