BEAWULF, THEMES AND SYMBOLS An old English epic , characteristic of its Nordic-Germanic roots , tells the story of a Scandinavian warrior , Beowulf , who saves one of his neighboring kingdom from the rage of a brutal , blood thirsty monster , Grendel , later adorned as the King and sacrifices his life for their well being …
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evil through the battle between Grendel and Beowulf, finally the hero was able to defeat him and establish goodness through which, according to the Christian belief, redemption is possible. The human beings are always under the threat evil forces. They are desirous to the flourished and peaceful lives of human beings. This is what happens in the kingdom of Shield Sheafson. The Heorot built by the king is a symbol of the wealth and harmonious life of the people belong to that country. The beginning of the story is from the threats of Grendel who lives in the nearby swamplands of Hrothgars kingdom. The influence of such satanic forces is to be won over by power and strength. After many years of suffering, Beowulf came to know about the plight of Hrothgar. He sails to Denmark with a company of men to fight against the monster. This action is also to express his gratitude towards the king for a favor his father received earlier. Heroic code of that tome demands strength, courage, and loyalty in warriors. The king is expected to have political skills, hospitality, generosity etc. The king and the hero are struggling to establish their own identity. The common belief that honor is gained though deeds is enforced throughout the story. Beowulf is treated highly by the king before his heroic action. That illustrates the expectation of the king and his disciples. The king waits for the daring moments of victory over the monster. Beowulf succeeds there. But obstacle is coming on the way. As a hero Beowulf has to encounter another devilish creature who is the mother of Grendel. The interference of evil forces is a constant process in human life. As a hero, not only in action but also in thoughts, he never hesitates to do such dangerous events. The transition that takes place in the life of Beowulf is to be taken in. When he returns his own country, he elucidates his heroic deeds to the king. Beowulf then hands over most of his treasure to Hygelac, who, in turn, rewards him. Later he was adorned as the king of place. The warrior and the king have great difference. Thus Beowulf matures from a valiant fighter. He carries a diverse set of values for each of his roles. These dissimilarities can be observed more when we compare Beowulf and King Hrothgar. When the young Beowulf, long for personal credit, the old Hrothgar seeks the protection of his disciples. These are the expectations of the society. The role of a person is defined by the society. Thus Beowulf as a king is highlighted more than Beowulf as a ‘hero’ in this poem. We should think that the Beowulf-poet has fused different moral systems, pagan and Christian morals simultaneously and thus the poem is a vehicle of Christian morals. According to Thomas D Hill the Beowulf- poet is a ‘Germanic humanist’ a precursor to the renaissance humanist who would reconcile their Christian mores with the great pagan minds that had come before them. The violence represents one of the poet’s most immediate challenges to settle his Christian faith and pagan history. The belief in forgiveness and mercy which are traits of Christianity is reciprocated with vengeance and battle in pagan belief. Thus in the two battles –first with Grendel and the second with Grendel’s mother Beowulf tries to protect his people. This theme of Christian virtue provides enough symbolism to convey the Christian moral. When handling with the theme of violence, according to
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