Beowulf : Virtue And Community

1658 WordsMay 9, 20167 Pages
Beowulf: Virtue and Community Larry Chambers ENG/235 05/06/2016 Colette Wanless-Sobel Beowulf: Virtue and Community Beowulf is set against a background of feuding and warfare amongst the Danes, Frisians, Jutes, Swedes, and the Geats. Heroes the likes of Beowulf and Wiglaf stand proudly among other figures from history such as Hygelac, Hrothgar, and Ingeld. Although, in a modern sense, the poem cannot be considered historically accurate, Beowulf offers a familiar look into the feuds, truces, alliances, and political intrigue within its heroic world. It continues fascinating readers as well because of its prominent themes such as community, revenge, violence, and, religion. To start with, the central function of a clan is the relationship between the lord of the clan and his retainers. Upon the receiving gifts the bond between lord and retainer, and in return for goods received, the retainer makes a solemn oath of fealty to the lord of the clan. Multiple times throughout the poem, the poet refers to Hrothgar, Hygelac, and Beowulf (good kings) as “ring-giver,” “helmet of the Danes,” and even “giver of treasure.” The poet acknowledges Hrothgar’s success by acknowledging that he “doled out rings / and torques at the table” (ll. 80–81). This form of social commitment (or contract) solemnizes allegiance within the heroic world. The Finn digression (ll. 1069–1158) shows the consequences of a group of retainers, although shameful and tragic, who choose to

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