Beowulf - FREE Research Paper Example

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The poem is considered an epic poem because it traces the developmental character growth of its main character as he struggles with archetypal monsters reflecting the values of his society. …
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Beowulf
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Analysis of the Epic Poem: Beowulf
The epic poem Beowulf captures a sense of the oral tradition and the stories that were important to this early period. The poem is considered an epic poem because it traces the developmental character growth of its main character as he struggles with archetypal monsters reflecting the values of his society. The story is also told in a specific way that suggests it was part of an older oral tradition.
The poem compares strongly with other epic poems such as the Iliad, Medea, Agamemnon, Virgil, Dante and Augustine. What all these epics have in common is a specific technical structure that helps with the memory recall of the poem, a specific series of events that traces the character’s developments and a high number of descriptive phrases that emphasizes the grandeur of the hero. By sticking to a specific structure, the individual reciting the poem had some clues as to what came next, which was further aided by a specific rhyme structure and repetitive phrases.
Two characters in the poem, Hrothgar and Beowulf, exemplify the heroic masculinity expected by this culture. This code placed value on personal characteristics such as physical strength and liege loyalty in warriors and leadership characteristics such as expansive hospitality and smooth political skill. A person was held in high esteem who had respectable women within their household and who could count on his followers to act with honor in their deeds. This is how Hrothgar is presented from the start. He is the example by which Beowulf judges himself later.
Issues of culture and nation are raised when Beowulf first arrives on Hrothgar’s shores. Before he can accept Beowulf’s help, Hrothgar has to accept that Beowulf’s service is honorable repayment for Hrothgar’s earlier service to Beowulf’s father. This action reveals that it was considered unjust to refuse to allow a debt of honor to be repaid within the culture, but that there were clear distinctions made between nations. Read more
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