Why is Beowulf important in English literature?

Asked By: Itziar Ormaechea | Last Updated: 23rd February, 2020
Category: books and literature poetry
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Beowulf is often referred to as the first important work of literature in English, even though it was written in Old English, an ancient form of the language that slowly evolved into the English now spoken. Still, a familiarity with the rudiments of Anglo-Saxon poetry enables a deeper understanding of the Beowulf text.

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Also asked, why is Beowulf considered important?

Studying Beowulf is important and beneficial for many reasons. Of course, modern Anglo-American culture is influenced by the culture of the ancient Anglo-Saxon people, and reading Beowulf helps readers to discover those influences.

Beside above, why does it matter that we study Beowulf as a man and a hero? Beowulf teaches about heroes. Heroes are fun to study in general, but Beowulf himself gives us the ultimate Anglo-Saxon. Heroes are symbols of their culture. By analyzing Beowulf's character, we can see what the Anglo-Saxons prized in a human being.

Accordingly, what is the story Beowulf all about?

Beowulf is an Old English story by an anonymous Anglo-Saxon poet. The poem tells a story of a strong and brave warrior (Beowulf) who defeats monsters and goes on to become King. Beowulf's first major battle was against Grendel, a monster that had been terrorizing the Scyldings.

Is Grendel Beowulf's son?

Heardred Despite Beowulf's support, the young king, son of Hygelac and Hygd, is killed in a feud. Beowulf then becomes king of the Geats. Grendel A descendant of the biblical Cain, the enormous ogre despises mankind's joy. He menaces Hrothgar and the Danes for 12 years before facing Beowulf in battle.

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What is the moral lesson in Beowulf?

The moral of Beowulf is that it is better to die young with heroism and virtue than to grow to a ripe old age being cowardly and avoiding your responsibilities. Beowulf shows great courage and fortitude as he protects the community by fighting Grendel, Grendel's mother, and the dragon Wiglaf.

What is the literary style of Beowulf?

Beowulf is written in Old English alliterative verse, the characteristics of which include alliteration (the repetition of consonant and vowel sounds); kennings (nouns combined to create an image—whale-road for the sea; glee-wood for a harp); hemistiches (lines broken into two parts); and Germanic diction (the verb in

What is special about Beowulf?

Its hero, Beowulf, is the biggest presence among the warriors in the land of the Geats, a territory situated in what is now southern Sweden, and early in the poem Beowulf crosses the sea to the land of the Danes in order to clear their country of a man-eating monster called Grendel.

Is Beowulf still relevant today?

Through the storytelling and the structure, “ Beowulf is indeed the most successful Old English poem because in it the elements, language, meter, theme, structure, are all most nearly in harmony” (Tolkien, 1997). The personal values, as well as the community values, still are prevalent today.

What are the themes of Beowulf?


Much of Beowulf is devoted to articulating and illustrating the Germanic heroic code, which values strength, courage, and loyalty in warriors; hospitality, generosity, and political skill in kings; ceremoniousness in women; and good reputation in all people.

How has Beowulf influenced popular culture?

The Old English epic poem “Beowulfhas influenced generations of modern writers and has left a trace in our pop-culture. He speaks against critics who play down the fantastic elements of the poem (such as Grendel and the dragon) in favour of using Beowulf solely as a source for Anglo-Saxon history.

Why are epics so important to a culture?

Epics Furnish us with Knowledge and Wisdom
They tell us what the importance of speaking truth is. They explain a very important lesson of life that we should do our work without the avarice of any reward. The stories in the epics teach us why we should have those basic manners in ourselves in very interesting ways.

What is the main idea of Beowulf?

In Beowulf, the major themes reflect the values and the motivations of the characters. One of the central themes of Beowulf, embodied by its title character, is loyalty. At every step of his career, loyalty is Beowulf's guiding virtue. Beowulf comes to the assistance of the Danes (Scyldings) for complicated reasons.

What are Beowulf's last words?

'After they burn my body, tell my warriors to build a great burial mound on the cliffs that stick out into the sea. The sailors steering their ships on the gloomy waters will see it and call it Beowulf's barrow, and my people will remember me. ' These were the last words from the thoughts of the old man's heart.

Is Beowulf older than the Bible?


XV were Christian beyond doubt, and it is equally sure that Beowulf was composed in a Christianised England since conversion took place in the sixth and seventh centuries. The only Biblical references in Beowulf are to the Old Testament, and Christ is never mentioned.

What does Beowulf symbolize?

In Beowulf, some of the most important symbols are Hrothgar's mead-hall, Grendel's cave, Grendel's arm and head, and the dragon's treasure-trove. Symbolically, Heorot represents the achievements of the Scyldings, specifically Hrothgar, and their level of civilization.

What makes Beowulf an epic poem?

Some of the main criteria points include being a long, narrative poem, having an epic hero, and containing rhythm, alliteration, and imagery. Beowulf can be considered an epic because it contains all of this criteria. Beowulf's first accomplishment as an epic hero was his battle with Grendel.

What was Beowulf's reward for killing Grendel mother?


To avenge Aeschere's death, the company travels to the murky swamp, where Beowulf dives into the water and fights Grendel's mother in her underwater lair. He kills her with a sword forged for a giant, then, finding Grendel's corpse, decapitates it and brings the head as a prize to Hrothgar.

How is Beowulf structured?

Beowulf is loosely divided into three parts, each of which centers around Beowulf's fight with a particular monster: first Grendel, then Grendel's mother, then the dragon. Alternatively, one might make a division of the text into two parts, examining youth and old age as the two distinctive phases of Beowulf's life.

What makes an epic hero?

The Seven Principal Characteristics of an Epic Hero
The warrior has the potential for greatness based on their attributes, e.g. cunning, bravery, humility, wisdom, virtue. An epic hero is known for making travels to exotic locations by choice or chance, usually to battle against evil.