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Beowulf

FLA for JANUARY 10-17

1. Give an in-depth analysis of the following characters in no more


than three sentences each:
a. Beowulf
Beowulf is the greatest hero of the world in his time because he exemplifies the
perfect traits of a hero, illustrating the Germanic heroic code, which values strength and
courage. The transition he have which is shown in the story as it shows the phase of his
life from a great warrior to generous king corresponds to two different models of virtue,
and much of the moral reflection from the story. His character in the story is perfectly
created to be an epitome of a hero and a protagonist, because despite with his success
and fortunes in life he was not blinded by the fame and the power and share his prizes
to his family, companions and his people.

b. Grendel
Grendel is a grotesque monster who is the first conflict faced by Beowulf, although
with his monstrous appearance he appears to have a vaguely human emotions like
jealousy and hatred for the humans in the Heorot when they celebrate victories and
festivities. He is believed to be a descendant from Cain’s clan whom the creator had
outlawed which explains his great envy, resentment and malice. His character carries so
much bitterness to the people in the great hall and resent them for being an outcast
which leads him to devour these creatures and create havoc in the hall for many years
until Beowulf comes.

c. Hrothgar
A great ruler for the Danes for so many years and made a breakthrough in his
supremacy when he built a mead-hall, called Heorot, which is known for the feasting and
beer-drinking that takes place in the hall. He is a father of two and accompanied by the
gracious and wise queen of the Danes, Wealhtheow. He is a character who know the
ability of the power and how one’s life can be affected by its nature and be consumed
with it, because of his wisdom he became a great adviser for Beowulf and warns him not
to give in to pride and always remember that blessings may turn to grief. He is a great
factor for Beowulf’s development in the story and serve as a great king in the history.

d. Unferth
Unferth is an envious man in nature, and he is a person who always reminisce the
past and would like to blame and take people down just like what he did to Beowulf. He
is deeply jealous with Beowulf and his abilities that he tries to defame him. Although
Unferth seems bad at first, but he is actually a round character that he changes his
attitude towards Beowulf as the story flows he helped Beowulf by giving him his great
sword when defeating the monsters although this act seems to not affect the fact that
he is afraid to defeat the monster himself and gives the responsibility to Beowulf instead.

e. Wiglaf
Wiglaf shows at the ending part of the story but with his little exposure he seems to
be included as one of the main characters in the epic. He is the only warrior brave enough
to help Beowulf when he is need and he is only the one who realizes that although
Beowulf is great hero, he is in his old age and the powers he have from the past
dissipates. Wiglaf now becomes the emerging new hero of the epic as he resembles many
of Beowulf’s quality when he is young —a warrior who is strong, fearless, valiant, and
loyal. He embodies Beowulf's statement from the early scenes of the poem, thus
represents the next generation of heroism and the future of the kingdom.

2. Cite some biblical allusions found in the epic.


In Beowulf Christian and pagan beliefs clashes with each other which makes the story
unique. Two contradicting religious practices was shown throughout the poem and it
affects the characters in Beowulf. Here are the biblical allusions found in Beowulf:

 When God created the first man and woman they bear two childs, Cain and Abel.
As they grew up, Cain became jealous with his brother and resent him, resulting
him to kill his brother, a one of his kind. This story from the bible connects in
Beowulf with the history of Grendel the monster. Grendel and his mother was a
descendant of Cain which explain the fact that he kills human and possesses great
envy.
 Throughout the story Beowulf repeatedly acknowledges God as his protector When
Beowulf relates his battle with Grendel's mother, he states that "The fight would
have ended straightaway if God had not guarded me”. There is a sense of mystical
protection infusing all of Beowulf's actions. However, there is also a strong sense
that God's protection must be earned; a warrior must first be true to his values,
courage, honesty, pride, and humility and only then will he earn God's protection.
 Hrothgar tells Beowulf that earthly success, given by God, must be handled with
humility and a sense of sharing or the earthly king will bring on his own doom.
Hrothgar tells Beowulf of a selfish king: "What he has long held seems to him too
little, angry-hearted he covets, no plated rings does he give in mens honor, and
then he forgets and regards not his destiny because of what God, Wielder of
Heaven, has given him before, his portion of glories". The phrase "he covets" is
strongly reminiscent of the Christian Ten Commandments, that material desire
leads to wanting more and more until nothing will suffice.
3. Define what is a kenning and give at least five examples.
Kennings are compound, descriptive phrases with metaphorical meanings that stand in
for ordinary nouns and proper nouns in Old English or Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse poetry.
The epic poem Beowulf is full of good examples of kennings. Here are the list of Kennings
found in Beowulf:

KENNING MEANING

Whale-road Sea

Light-of-battle Sword

Battle-sweat blood

Raven-harvest Corpse

Ring-giver King

Sky-candle Sun

Fighting-gear, battle-gear Body armor

hilt Handle

Mere Lake, pond, Swamp

4. What does comitatus mean? How is this reflected in the epic?


In Anglo-Saxon literature, comitatus refers to a relationship that benefited both
noblemen and freemen. According to the comitatus relationship, nobleman provided the
freemen with land in exchange for protection and loyalty. For freemen, it was an
opportunity to rise in social status while the nobility gained protection and loyalty.
Eventually, the freemen became known as thanes. The expectations of the comitatus
were rigorous, but there were some great benefits. The thane must agree to defend the
king or nobleman to his death if necessary. In return, the nobility shared their wealth and
provided weapons. Perhaps more important is the mutual respect, friendship, and honor
that the nobility and thanes shared. Comitatus is also can be interpreted as the basic idea
that everyone protects the king at all costs even if it means a warrior giving up his own
life. If a king is killed, the warriors must avenge the death of the king or they can no
longer serve as warriors for the next king. It is an idea that coexists with the interlacing
theme.
Comitatus is clearly seen in Beowulf. The first scene I notice it is at the end of the
story when only Wiglaf follows Beowulf into the battle with the dragon which means that
he must help his king even if his life was at stake. When Beowulf goes into the various
battles, there is a progression of the comitatus dying with the behavior of the warriors:
the warriors stand on the bank waiting, the next time they are sleeping and the third time
only Wiglaf goes with him.

Another situation is when Beowulf is more than willing to do whatever is necessary


to help Hrothgar euthanize the monster, even if it means dying in the process:
'My purpose was this: to win the good will

Of your people or die in battle, pressed

In Grendel's fierce grip.'

In return, Hrothgar gives Beowulf treasures and pronounces his appreciation for
Beowulf's loyalty:
'Now Beowulf, best of men,

I will love you in my heart like a son;

keep to our new kinship from this day on.'

According to the code of comitatus, the close relationship between lord and thane
is often one of close kinship.

5. Describe the following:


a. the fight between Beowulf and Grendel
The first battle is between the Grendel and Beowulf. The battle begins with the
attack of the Grendel in late night. It was described in very graphic battle. I think the
battle between Beowulf and the Grendel is to test Beowulf’s physical strength by dealing
with Grendel. After Grendel devoured a couple of Beowulf’s men, he arrived at Beowulf’s
bedside. He laid his hand on Beowulf then Beowulf grabbed a hold of Grendel. He was
playing smart to be awakened and to wait for him. Grendel slipped on the blood of one
of his victims and Beowulf twisted his arm. He tears Grendel’s arm off. The first battle
represents Beowulf’s youth life. He fights for fame and to prove his bravery by defeating
the monster. He also wanted to show off what he had done. He successfully defeated
Grendel and took a great amount of prize from Hrothgar because of the win.

b. the fight between Beowulf and Grendel’s mother


The second battle is between Beowulf and Grendel’s mother. Grendel’s mother is
very masculine figure. When she attacked men in the mead hall, she showed no sign of
logic but showed aggressiveness that much of like a warrior. Grendel’s mother attacked
the mead hall to take a revenge on the death of her son, Grendel. She took one of his
men. In order to go fight with the mother, Beowulf had to venture into her lake based
home. He shows more defensive while he was fighting. He represents his adult stage in
the battle with the Grendel’s mother. It also makes him more hero when he ventures
into the lake to reach to the Grendel’s mother. Beowulf is so much stronger than
Grendel’s mother and he eventually kills her with his sword.

c. the fight between Beowulf and the Dragon


The last battle is between Beowulf and the dragon that occurs after he turned
fifty has passed. The battle with the dragon represents the end of his life. He was eighty
years old by the time the battle occurred. The dragon had a great treasure. As a payment
to the king of the Dane, he decided to fight with the dragon. The battle with the dragon
symbolically represents the opposite traits of being a good king. It represents greedy and
destruction. The dragon was fire breathing and melted the swords. Beowulf left with 11
men however everyone ran away except Beowulf and Wiglaf. Fortunately, they were able
to defeat the dragon but Beowulf faced the death.

6. What traits of Beowulf and Grendel raise the fight between them
to an epic struggle between two great opposing forces in the
world?
This two opposing forces makes a great epic battle because of their extra ordinary
strength that seems to rattle the city of Danes and destroy Hereot, most especially
Beowulf which is an exemplary warrior. The poet chooses to relate much of this struggle
from Grendel's perspective rather than from Beowulf's, emphasizing the fear and pain
that Beowulf inflicts upon the demon. This narrative technique makes Beowulf seem even
more godlike; he seems to be an unstoppable heroic force. Throughout the fight, Beowulf
is treated as more than human. He shows himself stronger and more powerful than even
the monstrous Grendel, and he seems completely invulnerable.

7. Beowulf is thought to be a perfect hero for his times.


a. What qualities should a modern hero should have?
In the poem, it was emphasized that great hero should have the quality who is
strong, fearless, valiant, and loyal and I think that a modern hero should also possess
these qualities but most importantly, they should have these qualities: Compassion, A
true hero is always empathetic, benevolent and shows a great deal of compassion and
tenderness to those ailing or in distress. He or she keeps aside thoughts those are
oriented to the self and embraces an attitude that serves others; Perseverance, This
quality is what that makes the hero special. Even if they encounter failure on their way,
they are determined to get over it and fight till they achieve success. They do not give
up simply rather they are focused to withstand all the consequences that they may
encounter in their path; Conviction, Heroes have a strong conviction as they have strong
beliefs regarding a particular situation. It is a set of unshakable thoughts or beliefs, which
cannot be altered by any chance. I guess if you have these traits, you can be a modern
hero.

b. In what situation might a modern hero demonstrate these


heroic qualities?
Even if one or two behavior in the qualities mentioned above that one of us
possess, we can be a hero in our own way and with these traits we can face any
challenges and any situation with ease and confidence. A hero is not born, he is self-
made. Above mentioned are some of the most fundamental qualities, which a hero
invariably possesses. We all do possess some of the virtues, which have been explained
above. However, what sets a hero apart from the hoi polloi is that he can be said to be
the highest or the perfect embodiment of all of these virtues.

c. Give examples of modern heroes or of heroic behaviour.


One great example of modern heroes that I observe is the Overseas Filipino
Workers, they are exemplary modern warriors who is selfless, courageous, fearless
workers who travels and crosses seas to give his family a better living and give honor to
his country. I always feel the struggle of being an OFW and their courage to strive hard
in a foreign country in their own is a valiant thing to do. They set their priorities straight
and have their goals in life which is to help his family overcome the hardships in life. They
are a great example of a living hero nowadays and it’s what makes them special.