English IV – Slot 1
16 September 2014
Masculinity in Beowulf
The Poem Beowulf was composed sometime between the middle of the seventh and the end of the tenth century of the first millennium; it was originally written in Anglo-Saxon, or Old English. This heroic epic about the experiences of a Scandinavian prince, Beowulf, and currently stands as one of the foundation works of English poetry. Beowulf, the protagonist in the story, exemplifies his masculine aspects frequently with mainly his actions. The assets to Beowulf that exemplifies his masculinity is through his quarrels, his verbose language, and through his physique and body language.
Masculinity is a broad topic in the poem, but finding instances of it is quite simple. A main example is the quarrel at the mead hall. Grendel, a creature in the darkness, is the antagonist at this point. Beowulf is having a party with other soldiers in the mead hall. The loud noise agitates Grendel until it is unbearable. Grendel goes down to the mead hall, breaks down the door, and begins to thrash about the place. Grendel “[grabs] and [mauls] a man on his bench, / [bites] into his bone-lappings, [bolts] down his blood / and [gorges] on him in lumps, leaving the body / utterly lifeless, eaten up / hand and foot” (740-744). Killing and decapitating people, Beowulf stands up to Grendel and ripped his arm off. As a sort of mockery and as a trophy, Beowulf hangs Grendel’s arm on the mead hall wall. This manly mocking of a defeated foe shows that Beowulf is acting brutally; not to just vanquish and end the evil, but to torment and hurt the evil. This scene of masculinity illustrates Beowulf’s’ character as a masculine man.
In lines five-hundred and fifty-nine through six-hundred and seven, Beowulf is taunting another challenger, Unferth, to his masculinity. To express his manliness, Beowulf talks highly of himself and his accomplishments through his life. “’However it occurred, my sword...
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