Michael David Tapscott
Beowulf the Monster?
This poem focuses on the protagonist, Beowulf, and his three harsh battles with different monsters and his rise to king. The poem in many ways can be perceived as a riddle concerning the role of Beowulf. It is debatable whether he plays the role of hero, great king or monster driven by self-will. The writer frequently draws you into believing Beowulf is assuming one of these characters..
The poem starts opens by describing a funeral of an excellent king who founded the Danes and portraying a successful hero. A great king is described as one who performs heroic deeds for the safety and benefit of his people. A great king achieves victory over other clans and exacts tribute from the conquered. The great king inspires deep loyalty from his warriors through his strength and by paying the warriors treasure and gold. The writer really stresses the importance of distributing treasure among his warriors in exchange for loyalty in time of war. These beginning lines foreshadow the deeds of Beowulf that arguably make him a great king.
The name, Beowulf, has been translated as bear or wolf, which would explain his strength and fighting abilities. Early in the poem, when Beowulf first speaks to Hrothgar upon his arrival, he brags of his accomplishments requiring supernatural skills and abilities. He states: when I captured five, slew a tribe of giants, and on the salt waves fought sea-monsters by night (420-422). Beowulf asks permission from Hrothgar to rid Heroet of Grendel, an evil monster that was the subject of tremendous tales of horror. Stories about Grendel fighting battles without weapons intrigues Beowulf and convinces him to do the same. I have also heard that evil beast / in his wildness does not care for weapons, / so I too will scorn (433-445). Beowoulf then describes the incredible strength of his grip: but with my grip I / I shall grapple with the fiend and...
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