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Beowulf's Universal Appeal

Uploaded by Quest4Glory on Jul 05, 2004

There are archetypal patterns in life. They reoccur and become familiar to people through all ages and ethnicities. Throughout history, few literary works have captivated audiences by incorporating these patterns. The epic Beowulf is one literary work that effectively incorporates timeless components. The epic poem relates the tale of Beowulf, a warrior who throughout his life overcomes evils. It has strong elements of Anglo-Saxon elements of bravery, strength and of religious tenets. Beowulf enjoys universal appeal primarily because of its elements of characterization, plot and theme that prove timeless. Beowulf’s portrayal of human nature proves eternal. The protagonist Beowulf brashly lists his accomplishments before entering battle: "But the truth is simple: no man swims in the sea as I can, no strength is a match for mine… other monsters crowded around me, continually attacking. I treated them politely, offering the edge of my razor-sharp sword," (265-294). His boasts are symbolic of his personal insecurity. Beowulf seems scared of defeat and faliure. His boastful remarks are reminders to himself of his invincibility. Because he is insecure, Beowulf is an accurate representation of human nature. The poem also discloses social behaviors through Welthow, who portrays appropriate submissiveness of a wife. Women in society and position always are hot topics for discussion in any country and time period. She is subservient to her husband and " [pours] a portion from the jeweled cup for each, till [she] had carried the mead-cup among [the guests]," (354-372). Jealousy is a accurately portrayed in the poem. is a human attribute that will apply to any time period anywhere. In the incident with Unferth, for example: "angry that anyone in Denmark or anywhere on earth had ever acquired glory and fame greater than his own"(236-238) tries to belittle Beowulf’s claims to bravery, and, by doing so, adds realistic qualities to his character. Belief Divine or supernatural notions are also tendencies of human nature. The poem reflects this ageless concern through references to "that Shepherd of Evil" (432) and "[sacrifices] to the old stone gods" (90). These are both conflicting allusions to the two prominent religions of the time. One pertains to Christian ideology; i.e. "The Almighty God" (493), and "the Almighty making the earth" (8), and the other relates to Anglo Saxon religious beliefs; i.e., "the omens were good" (118) and "fate will unwind as it must," (189). The poem alludes to Christianity, a monotheistic religion that...

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Uploaded by:   Quest4Glory

Date:   07/05/2004

Category:   Literature

Length:   6 pages (1,314 words)

Views:   10771

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