Beowulf’s Abundance of Death and Shortness of Life
Between the years 499 C.E. to 1066 C.E., a new era was formed called the Anglo-Saxon Period. Unlike modern day society, it wasn’t the future that the Anglo-Sazons feared, but legacy that they left behind. This fear is portrayed in the poets’ epic poem Beowulf through the epic hero Beowulf. He is a warrior who embodies the Anglo-Saxon culture of masculinity, warfare, transience of life, reverence for the past, loyalty, respect for authority, gift giving, faith in God, belief in fate, and glory. He too fears for his importance in history and strives for the greatest of challenges with the determination of glory, warfare, and reverence for the past. In Beowulf, the poet’s depiction of the importance of Anglo-Saxon culture of glory, warfare, and masculinity is able to reflect the abundance of death and shortness of life.
The first characteristic of Anglo-Saxon culture that reflects the abundance of death and shortness of life is glory. In the achievement of battle, which normally ends in death, Beowulf is able to obtain glory and fame. For example, before Beowulf’s battle with Grendel, he states that, “…My lord Higlac/ Might think less if I let my sword/ Go where my feet were afraid to…” (169-171). Here, Beowulf believes that if he uses his sword in battle, then he does not deserve the glory if he wins; he has to kill with his bare hands. Because of the Anglo-Saxon culture, he fears that without the proper death of the enemy, he will not receive enough glory to be remembered in his short life. Another example of glory is after the battle with Grendel, “…No Dane doubted/ The victory, for the proof, hanging high/ From the rafters where Beowulf had hung it, was the monster’s/ Arm, claw, and shoulder and all…” (514-517). Through the death of Grendel, Beowulf was able to feel the sense of glorification and fulfillment that would provide him the fame to be remembered in history. The final example is when Beowulf...
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