Place Symbolism And Land Politics In Beowulf

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Stuart Elden, in his article “Place Symbolism and Land Politics in Beowulf”, discusses the usage of place in Beowulf. He declares, “In this text, site and place are given a range of symbolic, material, and emotive resonances.” There are copious examples in Beowulf where place has significant meaning. Settings are presented as either good or bad, boundaries are set and crossed, and the placement of boundaries created conflict and exclusion. In Beowulf, there are many places that are clearly presented as good and bad, safe and unsafe. In the text, the reader learns about places that have a somewhat concrete goodness or turmoil present. Heorot Hall described in the beginning of Beowulf is one of the good places. Of the hall, it is written, “Soon it stood there, finished and ready, in full view, the hall of halls”. The hall is representative of the community and the identity of the realm, as well as serving as a gathering place for the people to drink and socialize. Elden describes the hall as a place of great joy and celebration, as well as a sacred place for various ceremonies and rituals to take place (cite this and make sure proper paraphrasing). These descriptions create a sense of community and safety in the hall. In contrast, there are many places, such as Grendel’s mere or the dragon’s lair, that are presented in a much darker, evil light creating a bad place. The mere is described with a level of ambiguity that creates a sense of unsettlement and eeriness in the reader.

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