Beowulf themes and quotes

He builds a great mead-hall, called Heorot, where his warriors can gather to drink, receive gifts from their lord, and listen to stories sung by the scops, or bards.

Beowulf themes and quotes

Some have argued that the original poem simply celebrated the virtues of the society that existed in northern Europe before missionaries brought Christianity to the region. These critics contend that overt references to a Christian God were added by later transcribers, who adapted the original tale by giving it a Christian coloring.

Others, among them the distinguished medieval scholar and fantasy novelist J. Tolkien, have argued that the Christian elements have been woven skillfully into the text; they claim that the poem in its present form celebrates Christian virtues as they were understood by a medieval audience.

The most obvious Christian reference is the designation of the monster Grendel and his mother as descendants of Cain, the son of Adam who kills his brother Abel. Less direct references include frequent acknowledgement by characters in the poem that their lives are in the hands of God, who determines their destiny and who will reward or punish them for their deeds.

Additionally, Beowulf celebrates those who exhibit friendship, self-sacrifice, concern for their community, and generosity, virtues shared by Germanic peoples and by the Christians who converted them.

The hero of the poem is venerated not simply for his bravery, but also for his concern for those whose welfare has been entrusted to him.

In several ways the poem presents a value system consistent with Christian principles that would have resonated with a medieval audience that saw personal bravery and combat in service to kingdom and church as noble. The monsters in the poem are clearly embodiments of evil forces that must be overcome for society to be safe and prosperous; the hero who takes on the quest of freeing the land from such monsters fights as the representative of good.

Beowulf does not believe he can conquer these forces on his own; rather, he recognizes that he will succeed only as long as God allows him to do so. He also knows that he will eventually die, and he accepts that knowledge stoically. Throughout the narrative, he measures his success by his ability to make life better for those he serves.

All people, even heroes, have to face the inevitable fact that death awaits them at the time God has chosen to call them.

While it would be unwise to make specific links between Beowulf and Christ, there is one parallel that can be seen in the poem; both are aware of their mission to take responsibility for and act with love toward their fellow men and women.

At three points in the narrative, the stories of Norse rulers and fighting men are highlighted: In all three instances, one reads of leaders who take vengeance on their neighbors and even on their own kinsmen, perpetuating blood feuds that lead to social unrest.

By contrast, Beowulf is presented always as a peacemaker—albeit of a distinctly medieval character. The audiences that would have listened to the poem in the eleventh century would have accepted the notion that violent behavior was compatible with Christian principles.

His own words throughout the narrative and the advice he receives from Hrothgar before departing the land of the Danes stress the importance of avoiding the sin of pride and recognizing that victory comes not from personal prowess but from the hand of God.

Like the knights of Arthurian legend, whose stories would replace the Norse tales as favorite readings among English audiences within a century after the surviving version of Beowulf was transcribed, Beowulf is the model Christian hero.Get an answer for 'From Beowulf I.

Grendel, give two examples of kennings and two examples of alliteration. Provide the line numbers.' and find homework help for other Beowulf questions at eNotes.

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Shmoop breaks down key quotations from Beowulf. Good vs. Evil Quotes. In the end each clan on the outlying coasts beyond the whale-road had to yield to him and began to pay tribute. That was .

Beowulf themes and quotes

Themes Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a literary work. The Importance of Establishing Identity. As Beowulf is essentially a record of heroic deeds, the concept of identity—of which the two principal components are ancestral heritage and individual reputation—is clearly central to the poem.

Motifs Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, or literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text’s major themes.

Related Questions

Monsters. In Christian medieval culture, monster was the word that referred to birth defects, which were always understood as an ominous sign from God—a sign of transgression or of bad things to keeping . (Click the themes infographic to download.) In many ways, Beowulf is the simplest kind of epic there is.

It's about the conflict between a courageous, mighty, loyal . In a legendary time of heroes, the mighty warrior Beowulf battles the demon Grendel and incurs the hellish wrath of the beast's ruthlessly seductive mother.

Their epic clash forges the timeless.

SparkNotes: Beowulf: Themes