Beowulf: an Epic Hero

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Nate Gauvain
British Literature
Beowulf Essay
9/22/04
Beowulf: An Epic Hero

According to Abrams, the heroic poem is "a long verse narrative on a serious subject, told in an elevated style, and centered on a heroic or quasi-divine figure on whose actions depends the fate of a tribe, a nation, or the human race." Beowulf fits Abrams' description of an epic, exhibiting all of the characteristics listed throughout the book, thus defining Beowulf as a hero and making the book an epic through it's elevated style, the focus of a hero, and a quasi-divine hero which a tribe, nation or human race is dependent on. Beowulf is a narrative which describes the adventures of the hero Beowulf as he travels from his homeland of Geatland to Hrothgar, in order to kill the monster Grendel and the mother of the beast. Beowulf then returns to Geatland, ascends to the throne some fifty years later, and slays a dragon in his final act. This tale spans over three-thousand lines, and deals with battles that will determine life or death for the characters. The threat of danger for Beowulf is always very real, and the serious tone is kept for most of the story. Even when there are feasts and celebrations honoring Beowulf in the great mead-hall of Heorot, the narration always maintains a sense of drama: "She moved then to her place. Men were drinking wine

At that rare feast; how could they know fate,
The grim shape of things to come,
The threat looming over many thanes" (87)

Along with setting a dark tone for the story, the narration uses an elevated form of language to describe the events. When introducing the children of Halfdane, the language is noticeably lofty:

"He was four times a father, this fighter prince:
One by one they entered the world,
Heorogar, Hrothgar, the good Halga
And a daughter, I have heard, who was Onela's queen" (7)

Rather than just simply stating that Halfdane had four children, this information is extended into four lines, as...
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