Strength in the Links - Beowulf

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The Strength of the Links: The Significance of Chain Mail in Beowulf

A brotherhood is a bond created between men that forms a sense of unity amongst them. The belief is that a brotherhood should work together, fight together and ultimately treat one another as if they are truly brothers. The warriors in the heroic epic Beowulf wear a form of protective armor on their upper body known as chain mail, this chain mail represents the rise and fall of the brotherhood that the community of Heorot so strongly believes in.

Beowulf was known for being a warrior who preferred to fight a monster with his bare hands rather than with a weapon, yet it was not always his bare hands that would save him from death but rather his strong and reliable armor. Beowulf became the well known warrior that he was, owing to the fact that people believed that he was invincible and indestructible, however, it was his chain mail that he relied on to keep him alive. In the fight against Grendel’s mother, Beowulf would have never survived had it not been for “his woven war-corselet, wide and ornate” which would “safeguard his heart” (1275-1276). Grendel’s mother had the warrior in her grasp, clawing at him but she “failed to rip open the armor he wore” preventing his death (1330). Had Beowulf not worn the chain mail he would have been dead before he had the chance to kill Grendel’s mother and prove to the warriors who were “astonished to see him whole and unharmed” that he was the greatest warrior of their time (1434). When the warriors who had fled him saw Beowulf emerge from the water is when Beowulf became a significant member in the brotherhood, creating a greater sense of unity and strength amongst the men.

Chain mail is a form of armor worn as a shirt that is composed of small metal rings all linked to create a protective barrier for the warriors. This protective barrier for safety, is much like the protective barrier a brotherhood creates with it’s unity. The brotherhood upheld...
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