Beowulf Essay

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Wade Wells
Shawn Swain
English 12
20 March 2012
Beowulf: An epic poem
Beowulf is the first and best example of Anglo-Saxon or English literature to withstand the test of time. The epic poem of Beowulf was thought to have been written by a Northumbrian monk between the eighth and eleventh century. The genre of the epic poem was originally passed on solely through the oral tradition. Serving as a basis for poetic meter, alliteration is used to help enhance the oral presentation of an epic poem as well as help the flow of the written word. The symbolism in Beowulf is widely seen as a classic example of the story of Christ. The use of imagery in almost all epic poems helps to introduce key characters and tie together different plots as well. In Beowulf, the author incorporates the three elements of alliteration, symbolism, and imagery to develop the epic poem. Alliteration is the commencement of two or more words of a word group with the same letter. Being that alliteration is one of the most common types of literary elements in the epic poem of Beowulf. As seen in Burton Raffel’s translation “Then old and young rejoiced, turned back from that happy pilgrimage, mounted their hard-hooved horses, high-spirited stallions, and rode them slowly toward Herot again, retelling Beowulf’s bravery as they jogged along” (Beo. 534-538). The multiple repetitions of the letters help the reader to become more interested in the subject matter. When orally presenting an epic poem, the narrator uses alliteration to grab the audience’s attention as well as create a more vivid description of the current scene. Symbolism is the applied use of symbols, or iconic representations that carry particular conventional meanings. There are many examples of symbolism in Beowulf, but the most prominent one is the comparison between Jesus Christ and the main character Beowulf. Goldsmith reports that “The poem Beowulf as we have it contains indisputably Christian sentiments and...
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