Beowulf Assessment

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Beowulf Assignment #5

In the epic, Beowulf, the main character faces many antagonists who have the exact opposite of the virtues of Anglo-Saxon culture. Beowulf, the protagonist, obviously possesses all the virtues important to Anglo-Saxons. The first antagonist that Beowulf faces is named Unferth. Unferth is not loyal in that killed his brother slyly and that he offers Beowulf a sword to fight Grendel that shows that he is too cowardly to fight the monster himself. Loyalty and bravery are two of the most important virtues present in Anglo-Saxon literature. Unferth is also demeaning and cruel to his guest Beowulf. In most Anglo-Saxon literature, hospitality towards guests is very important and expected. The next antagonist is Grendel. He is very ambiguous and very monstrous in appearance although exhibiting many human emotion and impulses. Grendel exhibits aggression, loneliness, and jealously. He is somewhat cowardly in that he attacks at night when men are asleep and he runs back to his lair after his encounter with Beowulf. Grendel’s mother has the same virtues as her son except she fights out of anger. She really has no cause for fighting. The dragon is very grotesque and preys on the town. He is very selfish which is not part of an Anglo-Saxon protagonist like Beowulf in that he attacks the town after having one piece of treasure stolen. All three monsters are portrayed as evil, aggressive villains especially since they battle against the hero, Beowulf. Unferth is a human example of a protagonist lacking loyalty and bravery.
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