Beowulf, Tragic Love Story

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“Once upon a time…” that is how many childhood stories begin. However, Beowulf is a different type of story. It does not tell of pretty princesses or fairy godmothers, but instead of a hero and a terrible beast. These stories that are told to our children are ones that have been around for a long time, Beowulf is no different. Nevertheless, some skeptics wonder if Beowulf is worthy of acclaim it receives. Does it deserve to be classified as a truly important piece of British literature? The answer is yes. Beowulf contains important themes that still apply in today’s society, has significant historical information, and portrays characteristics of heroes that remind us that even the best heroes are still mortal. One overlaying theme in Beowulf is that idea of loyalty. Beowulf displays this trait by honoring his loyalty to his people. He must go to the Danes and repay his father’s debt. Another aspect of Beowulf that shows loyalty is that Beowulf’s followers are willing to follow him anywhere. “The follower …must always stand ready to fight – and if necessary give up his life - on behalf of the chief” (Streissguth 76-77). In the story Wiglaf stays to fight at Beowulf’s side as he is dying, trying to slay the dragon. In return for his loyalty, Beowulf rewards Wiglaf with gold and rule of the kingdom. Loyalty is a characteristic that can often be overlooked in our modern society. Nevertheless, Beowulf describes true loyalty that reminds us that loyalty is a necessary element in our society. While Beowulf is a fictional story, there are some real aspects to it that are of important historical value. The Beowulf poets “reconstruction of a northern heroic age is chronologically sophisticated, rich in local color and fitting speeches” says Roberta Frank an English professor from Yale University. (Frank 51). Specific locations in parts of the poem have been connected to real locations. Also, “the poet emphasizes cultural differences not only between present...
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