The Tale Element in Beowulf: Both to the Aid and to the Detriment of the Exposition The genre of Beowulf eludes classification, and yet this is its beauty. The multi-layered body of the work is made up of different building material: there are the? tale bricks; ? present is the? epic element; ? the chronicle planks haven? t been left out either. The very diversity in the story? s makeup gives it its unique appeal, and yet that very same diversity throws in big question marks in our way. The tale element brings in such a paradox: it both aids and harms the development of the plot. An exemplary tale hero, Beowulf, has no distinct features; he doesn? t have a face of his own besides the fact that he belongs to a certain tribe. The Goatish hero is a stereotype rather than an individuality; more like a generic hero than a warrior with his own signature.
The depiction of Beowulf as a stereotype allows for greater flexibility in describing his abilities. The simplification of the individual, however, detracts from the dramatism of the character. The absence of spiritual complexity determines the path of the warrior: he is one and the same from beginning to end; there is no spiritual development. The story of Beowulf bears traits of the well familiar fatalism of tales: everything is predestined. Birth, life, and death follow one another in an unchanging pattern.
While fate imparts certain dramatism in the exposition, namely the tension between the dooming fate and the reader (or listener) chanting? Viva! Viva! ? in support of the hero, it relegates the story to a predictable sequence of events. The glory of a rise is offset by the humiliation of a fall. Tales? favorite visualization of evil, the mythical monsters give color to the exposition. An effective metaphor, the mythical creature aids the hyperbolization of Beowulf? s character, as well as it diversifies the imagery set. That said, dragons and monsters take away from the credibility of the story; they weaken the persuasive power of the poem? s other elements? its pretence to being a chronicle and an epic poem.