Beowulf's Epic Poemship Beowulf, Beowulf's Epic Poemship Essay, Research Paper Beowulf, the poem without a definite origin, is a very powerful story. It encompasses many characteristics that draw the reader's attention. There is a very apparent element of revenge and the bravery exhibited by Beowulf himself is one of the poem's greatest strengths. The many themes and strong characters create a story with much "readability' (as I like to call it). However Beowulf, unlike The Odyssey, very arguably follows the distinct criteria set forth for the epic poem.
Despite very much fitting some of the requirements quite perfectly, it can be seen to sway from a few of the other characteristics needed to be an epic poem. One of the characteristics that it does fulfill unarguably is that the hero is a figure of imposing stature, or international importance. Beowulf, the hero of the story, is the head of a large army of the Geats, a land in Southern Switzerland. Now if this weren't enough stature for one man, he is also the prince of the Geats. These two characteristics alone make him to be one of the most powerful beings in the area. The poet first describes Beowulf as ."..
greater/And stronger than anyone anywhere in this world.' Beowulf was definitely a figure of imposing stature and importance. Another quality in an epic poem that is exhibited in Beowulf is that the actions exhibited are deeds of great valor. Beowulf, through his great strength and bravery saved an entire country from the wrath of a giant monster "in human shape'. He, with his bare hands, ripped off the arm of the mighty Grendel, a feat that has hero written all over it. And almost as if that weren't adequate to his stature, he headed off to kill Grendel's mother.
After eventually killing her and going home to live his life as the King of Sweden, Beowulf found himself faced with another perilous battle with another such beast. Without hesitation the older, and very much weaker, Beowulf went to bravely defend his land. Though this battle ended in a different manner than the other two, He showed great bravery nonetheless. All of these actions add up to a considerably valiant life on the Part of Beowulf, very much living up to the epic poem's criteria. Beowulf also contains a poetry style that is one of sustained elevation, while possessing grand simplicity. The story contains a main theme that is the most used in all of literature, that is the theme of good versus evil.
This is the most simple and easily understood theme of all. The simplicity of it is why it is so effective especially in Beowulf. It's easy for the reader to hate Grendel because he is evil and love Beowulf because he is good. However, the tale contains many sub plots to help sustain a peak in the story line. One such incident was that of the revenge of Grendel's mother. Unknown to the warriors, however, Grendel's mother is plotted revenge.
She arrived at the hall when all the warriors are asleep and carried off Esher, Hrothgar's chief adviser. She could have taken almost anyone, but the fact that she took Esher, a character of at least some importance, giving Beowulf more incentive to avenge his death. Had the mother of Grendel killed a measly guard or a peasant, the theatrics would not have been such that Beowulf would have had reason to act as he did. A heightened sense of urgency and pressure aides in the theme of this poem while the overall idea to it is quite simple. The poet must also recount the deeds of the hero with a measure of objectivity for the poem to be considered an epic. Though the poet is unknown, Beowulf was described in this manner.
Although it said that there was none greater and stronger then Beowulf, he had his weakness'. After their defeat of Grendel's mother the warriors return to Hrothgar's court, where the Danish king delivered a sermon to Beowulf on the dangers of pride and on the fleeting nature of fame and power. These were possible vices in Beowulf's life and this showed that despite his stature, he was human and could have flaws. Now, the validity of Beowulf's epic-hood becomes questionable.
One of the rules to being an epic poem is that the setting is vast, usually encompassing nations, the world, or even the universe. In this case, it follows it very liberally. Most of the story exists in the country of Denmark, where our hero saves the Danes from most certain destruction at the hands of Grendel. Nearing the end of Beowulf's life, the story shifts back to Sweden, his home country. In this case it does fulfill the characteristic (barely), because it takes place in encompassing nations. Yet the story more or less takes place in a somewhat concentrated area in Denmark.
The last characteristic is that there are supernatural forces present; the gods, goddess and even demons intervene. The only unnatural (or even remotely supernatural) forces appear to be Grendel, his mother and the dragon. While these are supernatural somewhat, the deeper force that should be acknowledged is the magical sword. Without this sword, he could not have killed Grendel's mother, or cut off Grendel's head. It became quite apparent that the monsters were not able to be killed by human weapons and had it not been for this sword, not even Beowulf in all his glory, could have accomplished this feat. In the case of the Odyssey, all aspects pointed at it being an epic poem.
There wasn't much digging to find why it is known as an epic poem. Beowulf, took a tad bit more searching, but with the same result. It is, despite it's farther reaching characteristics, a very well written epic poem.