Beowulf is an Anglo-Saxon epic poem, which takes place in Scandinavia, before Englishmen relocated to Britain. The poem is named after the main character. The text consists of 3,182 lines and is written in alliterative verse. The poem was created at the end of 7th or the beginning of the 8th century and is preserved in a single list of the 11th century, which was almost destroyed during a fire in Robert Cotton’s Library in 1731. It is the oldest epic poem of barbarian (German) Europe, which is preserved in its entirety.
Beowulf is a heroic poem, which describes the exploits of the legendary Beowulf. The poem is full of values of courage, strength, and integrity, which are represented by the main character. It is an early example of the moral heroism, and not the one that is caused by the desire for fame and power. Beowulf is able to sacrifice himself and be courageous in the name of justice.
The poem is divided into two parts. In the first part, Beowulf visits the King Hrothgar. Young hero saves the kingdom from Grendel and terrible monsters that terrorize everybody. In this part, Beowulf appears as resolute and brave hero, who wins the unequal and dangerous battles. He is faithful to the sense of honor, and his actions and behavior is a model of heroic idealism.
The second part of the poem takes place fifty years later, and describes the second stage of the heroism of Beowulf. He has aged and became a king. He fights in his last battle, in which he dies, defeated by the dragon. This displays the ideal of courage and integrity of his rebellious spirit. The image of Beowulf is very mysterious, and the way he dies shows the image of victory in defeat.
In the poem, all qualities of characters are exaggerated. Beowulf is a brave, bold, but at the same time, a decent hero, whose virtues have no reason to doubt.
Changes in Beowulf are not peculiar. There are no changes in Beowulf throughout the narrative. Beowulf’s image as an honest and good ruler is not shown in the light of the descriptions, but in a simple statement of fact. Beowulf’s heroic spirit again and again is subjected to the tests, but each time Beowulf passes them with honor and dignity. Even his death shows that the well-being of people is more important for Beowulf than his personal success and glory.
Beowulf is often compared to Ulysses (Odysseus), the only difference is that Ulysses was the hero of a noble birth with a lost soul, and Beowulf in his every act shows his heroic spirit, the ideal of power, which serves the good, as well as the victory of good over evil.
Beowulf is an Anglo-Saxon epic poem, which takes place in Scandinavia, before Englishmen relocated to Britain. The poem is named after the main character. The text consists of 3,182 lines and is written in alliterative verse.