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Bowulf - Essay Example

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The behavior of characters in an epic such as Beowulf typically makes a clear distinction between the concepts of barbarism and civility as it is seen in the culture from which the epic is produced. Of the characters in this epic, both Beowulf and King Hrothgar are seen as…
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Download file to see previous pages To begin with, Hrothgar and Beowulf demonstrate the same level of devotion to the old heroic code of the Germanic tribes. This code placed a lot of value on things like strength and loyalty in warriors, hospitality and political skill in leaders, the presentable nature of women and the good reputation of the people everyone associates with. In describing how he worked to save Beowulf’s father’s good name, Hrothgar tells Beowulf “Great was the feud that your father set off when his hand struck down Heatholaf in death among the Wylfings. … I then settled the feud with fitting payment, sent to the Wylfings over the water’s back old things of beauty; against which I’d the oath of your father” (459-61; 470-72). In this, Hrothgar is recounting how the two families are connected in honor, allowing him to accept the help of Beowulf without losing any of his current power even though he is no longer physically strong enough himself to rid his kingdom of the ogre Grendel.
In addition, Hrothgar is aware of the dangers of power that Beowulf is likely to encounter during his lifetime and seeks to warn him of them, indicating a distinct difference between the moral conscience between the civilized culture and that of the barbarian culture that doesn’t recognize such issues. This reflective attitude is mostly seen in his speech to Beowulf just before the Geats depart from Heorot. Here, he warns Beowulf against the sins of pride and greed as they will creep into his heart whether he will or no as he gains power and position among the tribes. “Beloved Beowulf, best of warriors, resist this deadly taint, take what is better, your lasting profit. Put away arrogance, noble fighter! The noon of your strength shall last for a while now, but in a little time, sickness or a sword shall swipe it from you” (1758-63). This mostly Christian view in a Pagan culture gives medieval man a clue as to ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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