Summary: Beowulf

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Edward Kang
Litote – a form of understatement or the usage of negative words to emphasize a positive. * Ex) The use of litote in the poem of Beowulf is both intentional and ironic. When Beowulf describes himself fighting with the monster while swimming, he calls the scene to be a “small pleasure.” This fighting is certainly a scene of great violence, but by the description from Beowulf, readers could obtain the irony in the text. Epithet – an adjective phrase that is usually placed adjacent to the noun it is referring to * Ex) In the poem of Beowulf, the author frequently uses epithet to describe what kind of person each character is. For example, it is once mentioned in the poem “Beowulf, the son of Edgetho.” This describes Beowulf to be the son of Edgetho. Frequent use of this literary device allows the poem to avoid wordiness since the description phrases are not in a separate sentence. Kenning – A figurative that is used instead of a noun.

* Ex) A kenning is usually used as some sort of metaphor in the poem of Beowulf. For example, the sea is said to be the “Whale’s road” in some part of the poem. The use of kenning made the author to avoid redundancy but at the same time to emphasize certain ideas. This moreover helped the author by allowing him to remember the stories he have written. Allusion – a reference, especially a covert or indirect one * Ex) Allusions are used mostly in the poem to refer to Biblical aspects. It is commonly said that the poem was written when Christianity first came into being. Hence, Christianity was taught throughout the society. The poem acts to teach pagans through biblical allusions within the poem. (Grendel is referred to Cain while the fight of Beowulf and Grendel’s mother is situated as the story of Dacid and Goliath.) Alliteration – repetition of the first syllables in several series of words. * Ex) Alliteration is something that could be found very commonly within the poem of Beowulf. Yet, it is easier to find when the poem is read in their original text. This is because the authors wrote in another language than English which made translations have less alliteration. The main use of alliteration was that it helped the poets easier to understand what they have written previously. Moreover, it helped the readers easier to memorize the poem. Juxtaposition – a device that helps the author convey to the readers concealed meanings by placing two events together * This device helped the readers to think about why the author actually put the events together which also helped them to critically consider the whole poem. Moreover, when the readers were allowed to interpret the intention of the poet, they were able to learn some kind of discipline through the poet’s juxtaposition of two events. For instance, the author mentions the treasury owned by the Germanic warriors. Yet, the author continues with the burial of Shild which makes the readers interpret that wealth did not matter after death. Caesura – a pause

* Ex) Caesuras are used for two purposes. The first ‘purpose’ is because of the verse format Beowulf was written in. The second purpose is to make the poem more realistic to people. The caesuras represent the blanks when normal people pause in their ordinary speech. These signs of pauses show how the people of the time spoke and also made the poem more familiar to the readers. Appositive – noun phrase that follows another noun to rename or describe it. * Appositive is mainly used in the poem to shun redundancy. For instance, when the narrator refers to Beowulf as ‘Beowulf’ all the time, the poem would have the aspects of being redundant and make the readers lose interest. Hence, the author switched around the noun phrases that definitely means ‘Beowulf’ to use instead of Beowulf. This helped the overall fluency of the poem. Metaphor/simile – comparing two objects.

* The difference between a metaphor and a simile is that one compares with the words ‘as’ and...
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