Beowulf Not just a kids story
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Beowulf Not just a kids story
When you compare Beowulf to any modern novel or movie, Beowulf seems
childlike at best. Beowulf is told in a straightforward, uncomplicated manner very unlike
many of today’s works, which contain complex plots and themes. What makes Beowulf
readable to an adult and not just children? Why do people find stories such as Beowulf so
intriguing? Why is Beowulf, or any myth, significant?
Beowulf, the story of the young Beowulf sent by fate to save a kingdom plagued with a nightmarish monster, a rather basic plot synopsis especially for a story that has been around for more than one thousand years. However Beowulf contains far more long-standing impact than a slew of the best selling books at any bookstore. Beowulf, as any myth, teaches many moral lessons giving us a detailed insight into the culture and writer’s beliefs through written accounts of morality and religion and through the tale’s deep symbolism. And it also provides for an entertaining ride filled with supernatural feats and monsters with an inspirational hero or role model for the reader.
In contrast to some other popular mythological stories such as the tales of the Greek gods, Beowulf is almost believable. Beowulf is just over the edge of “real”, it pushes our definition of what exists but not to the point to where we cannot imagine what is happening in the story. Also I feel that Beowulf is a superior work of mythology because Beowulf is a true and perfect hero, and represents the personality and courage most people wish they had
In Episode 1 the story begins with the tale of Scyld Sceafing, which parallels
Beowulf’s evolution, it is the motif of a helpless child turning into a great king. Similarly,
Sceafing arrives from the water to the Danish lands in the same way Beowulf arrives.
This is a popular theme in many myths, a small and weak one rising to be strong and a
leader (i.e. Jesus). Part of the beauty of mythology is the repetition of motifs such as this
one. Another facet of mythology that is uncovered in Episode 1 is religion. In every myth
religion is dealt with in some way. Unlike most myths, however, the religious affiliation
and code is hard to decipher. References to the Old Testament are made often (i.e. Cain
and Abel, the flood), but it is never made quite clear of what the religious beliefs of the Danes are. The writer himself is definitely familiar with the Bible, and was probably actually a monk, but the Danes do not seem to be. This raises the question of whether the original oral presentations contained the religious references or sub-stories that the written one does. Obviously the hero of the story does not completely fit the humble pacifist Christian personality, so it is a reasonable inquiry. As shown here, part of the reason myths are so fascinating is because of the questions and speculations they cause to arise about the culture and its ideas from which the myth evolved.
In Episode 3 the phenomenal Beowulf arrives on the Herot scene to slay Grendel. Beowulf in Beowulf is a very strong individual, so strong in fact that he rips archrival Grendel’s arm cleanly off! This is impossible of course, for a man to do such thing, physiology doesn’t permit it. Even more unbelievable is Grendel himself. Grendel’s “fingers were nails like steel” (Beowulf Episode 5) and “no battle sword could harm him - he had enchantment against the edges of weapons” (Beowulf Episode 6). A fantastic hero and villain is a key to mythology. Why have such an unreal hero? It’s simple because he is a hero, a role model, and so why not make him as powerful and super human as desirable. When the story originated, and was thus truthfully believed, many youngsters probably idolized the mighty Beowulf, and wanted to equal his valor and courage. It evoked emotional inspiration to conquer evil with bravery and goodness, a very desirable goal in any culture.
Demonstrated in Episode 4 was some very dramatic language that made
the story very compelling and entertaining. The author uses some vivid imagery and
language to describe the approaching Grendel’s character “Came then from the moor under the misty hills, Grendel stalking
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Beowulf, Grendel, Unfer, Hrothgar, Beowulf Grendel, Sceafa, Hrunting
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