Beowulf's Quest for Glory

1632 WordsOct 10, 20117 Pages
Before the story of Beowulf was written down, the tale was spoken through the oral traditions characteristic of Anglo-Saxon Literature. This oral ritual was mindful not only of the particular event and time in which it was recited, but also of the receptive nature of its audience. Moreover, these stories contained repetitions of key elements and themes as a way to stress their significance. Ultimately, however, all the stories told through the oral tradition usually mirrored the principles and ideals of the Anglo-Saxon culture at the time they were told. This tradition remains ever-present within the modern text of the medieval poem of Beowulf. Two notable tales of character in the poem gain deeper nuance when placed in Beowulf’s…show more content…
Hrothgar reminds Beowulf that Heremod’s “rise in the world brought little joy to the Danish people, only death and destruction.” (1711/1712) Because Heremod “vented his rage on men he caroused with” and “killed his own comrades” in his “bloodthirsty” pursuit, he “suffered in the end for having plagued his people for so long” and his life consequently “lost happiness.” (1713-1722) Through Hrothgar’s discourse, Heremod fully emerges as a vilified character. Now, Beowulf has been provided with the opportunity to hear Heremod’s story twice. Beowulf’s lack of response either to the mention of Heremod seems indeed to mark him as the “undaunted hero.” (1816) While Beowulf might not respond to this rising forewarning, his impending honorable actions toward Geatland begin to speak for themselves. Beowulf’s immense sense of loyalty and respect toward the Geatish Kingdom upon his return from the Danish Kingdom validates his desire to espouse Hrothgar’s advice. Beowulf’s outward manifestation of his allegiance to the Geatish race first appears through his kind gesture of gift giving. His first demonstration of this becomes apparent when he presents the watchman of his ship with “a sword with gold fittings” with the intentions of making that watchman “a respected man at his place on the mead-bench.” (1901-1903) Furthermore, Beowulf relays his respect to his uncle, Lord Hygelac,

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