Theme Of Literary Devices In Beowulf

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Literary devices are utilized by authors to help show common themes as well as tone and symbolism. The epic poem Beowulf (translated by Seamus Heany) is about a great Anglo-Saxon warrior Beowulf, and his many heroic deeds. Grendel is the first monster Beowulf is tasked with facing. Grendel attacks king Hrothgar’s hall every night for twelve years, and Beowulf journeys to Hrothgar in his defense. Grendel attacks the night Beowulf promises to defend the hall, called Heorot, and Beowulf kills Grendel. Various literary terms are used in Beowulf to help provide the themes of fear of outcasts, the struggle of good and evil, and the difference between isolation and being part of a tribe.

Kennings and alliteration are utilized to portray a theme of outsiders being evil and dangerous. Grendel, an outcast of society, is angered by a celebration in the king, in Hrothgar’s hall. Grendel comes to Hrothgar’s hall every night for twelve years to wreak havoc among the Heorot and disturb the king. Beowulf comes to the hall with a group of his men to rid of the monster, and Grendel comes at night, filled with rage and anger to disrupt the happiness of the hall. A kenning is used to alienate Grendel: “God-cursed Grendel came greedily loping. / The bane of the race of men roamed forth,” (711-712). Anglo-Saxon literature fears the unknown and the dangerous. The kenning of “God-cursed” associates Grendel with being an outcast, by mentioning that Grendel has been outcast by God. The next kenning,

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