Beowulf: A Hero's Epic
In the course of time, many heroes have made their name and many stories
have been written to proclaim their greatness. However, none as captivating as
Beowulf. This Anglo-Saxon epic demonstrates it's power with beautiful language,
usage of kennings, metaphors, similes, and alliteration. Also, it gives wondrous
supernatural beings as in God, and even of powerful creatures as Grendel. On the
other hand, it has human struggles and afflictions.
The very first element that is discovered by reading this epic is the
lofty language that is used. Although, having read only and excerpt, the writing
is as glorious as the story itself. Alliteration usage and can easily recognized
in line 33, "He found them sprawled in sleep, suspecting nothing..." which
demonstrates the "s" sound. Another example of alliteration at work using the
"p" sound is line 160, "From my prince, no permission from my people for your
Metaphors provide a distinct characteristic as in line 30 describing
terror as "darkness had dropped." Line 128 when sailing across the sea,
describing the seas "beating" on the sand. There are few similes but one that
stands out most in line 133. "The ship foamed through the sea like a bird..."
Using like to describe the similarity of the bird and how the ship traveled
across the sea. Probably the most important element of language are the
kennings which describe something simple so indirectly. Line 241 describes
darkness or night by stating how the moon hangs. Also line 325 describes Grendel
in two different kennings as one form of evil.
Every hero has their way of fighting evil or protecting from it. In order
to fight a supernatural being, one must have a superhuman power which brings us
to another characteristic of epic poetry. The very first supernatural being
described is the almighty God in lines 7-3 in the beginning. God is definitely
been a supernatural being because of his ability and powers that he possesses.
He is mostly associated with the Earth's origin and it's inhibitors. Monsters
are also form of supernatural being. In this epic Grendel provokes death and
cannibalizes human without thought but also enjoying it. What makes him so
powerful is his appetite for people and how he acquires it. Without doubt the
most obvious superhuman character must be Beowulf. Most recognized by inhuman
strength and bravery. Human's greatest fear or enemy is death but Beowulf is not
intimidated by death which proves him to be superhuman and uncommon among our
In a heroic epic poem, the most important element must as always and
sometimes is the hero himself or herself. To be classified as a hero, one of the
most important characteristic that must be included is devotion to duty and have
a worth cause. Beowulf proves his nobility by venturing across the sea to fight
evil bringing honor for his King Higlac. As noticed, in the section "The Coming
of Beowulf" he (Beowulf) has mentioned his king more than once, not owning all
the bravery to himself. Beowulf is devoted to his duty by immediately adjusting
the problem, but without a doubt, his travels were all for a worthy cause which
is to kill evil and end suffering.
Having all there elements mentioned, Beowulf holds true to it's title as a
heroic epic poem.