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Anglo-Saxon Values in Beowulf

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Anglo-Saxon Values in Beowulf

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  • December 15, 2006
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The folk epic Beowulf reflects many Anglo-Saxon values. The Anglo-Saxon epic stresses the physical world, fairness, boasting, love of glory, belief in wyrd, deep sense of loyalty to the tribe and the tribal leader, and the importance of generosity and bravery.

The Anglo-Saxon value of fairness is reflected by Beowulf. He asks Hrothgar the favor of fighting alone with Grendel with only the help of his men, as stated in this line, "That this one favor you should not refuse me-that I, alone and with the help of my men, may purge all evil from this hall." Beowulf also demonstrates fairness when he decides that he will use no weapons with his battle with Grendel. Beowulf hears about the fact that Grendel's scorn of men is so great that he needs no weapons and fears none, therefore neither will Beowulf.

Another Anglo-Saxon belief is also demonstrated by Beowulf, this being the value of boasting. Beowulf boasts a lot to Hrothgar about all his successes. He brags about his strength and valor. He describes many treacherous journeys in which he killed many of his enemies, drove five great giants into chains, swam in the blackness of night, hunting monsters out of the ocean, and killing them one by one. This boasting is important because it assists Hrothgar in believing that Beowulf is the right man to defeat Grendel. While Beowulf boasts about is great strength, he is also loyal to the king, reflecting another Anglo-Saxon value of being lenient to the lord.

Hrothgar demonstrates the Anglo-Saxon value of love of glory in the poem. When Hrothgar leads the Danes to glory, he decides to build a hall that would hold his mighty band. And in that hall he would divide the spoils of their victories to his comrades and kinsmen. He fulfills his promise naming the mead hall Herot and commending a banquet.

Many of the Anglo-Saxon values expressed in Beowulf revolve around boasting, loyalty, strength and fairness. The comprising of these qualities makes Beowulf the hero, and...