kingship in Beowulf

kingship in Beowulf - English 111 The Kingship and Beowulf...

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English 111 3/20/09 The Kingship and Beowulf During the times of the Anglo-Saxons when the story “Beowulf” was created (and later translated by Seamus Heaney), it was not uncommon for kings to be constantly overthrown by their lords-men or killed. During these times of the Vikings, and constant warfare, a true king dedicated to the title and what it really means to be a king for the people was hard to come by. The story of “Beowulf” was created to reflect what leaders should be and should not become. In terms, Beowulf could be a literary metaphor for the current times and a reflection of what has come to pass. The people of the Anglo-Saxons could look to the story of Beowulf as an ideal life; one that is filled wit glory gold and god. The characters in the story as well represent the desire and needs of the people The Anglo-Saxons use Beowulf and its characters as a literary metaphor to portray their current kingship situation; what they want is a peaceful ring-giver found in Hrothgar, what they need is a hero who can seem invincible in war which is found in Beowulf, and what they had in the past, which were kings obsessed with war and disaster which is found in the story of Heremond which is used to teach how not to be a king. Beowulf is believed to be written anonymously during the 9 th century, in which during this time the reign of Vikings and the popularity of Christianity had started to emerge from the sea. In learning about Beowulf in modern times and learning of the research behind the purpose of the story, it is very well possible and probable that “Beowulf is a Viking story, with Christian elements and Anglo-Saxon themes” (Barber). This type of story became a very popular story among the Scandinavian people because
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they were able to relate their own lives and ambitions to what the hero of the story, Beowulf had accomplished. In the story, “Beowulf” the main character Beowulf has the characteristic of Christian elements because he believes that he can fight any fight and win because it is his “wyrd” which mean fate to win. He believes that only God can determine if it is his time to lose and become a hero and a legend in his followers eyes. For example, in the story “Beowulf” translated by Seamus Heaney, after the win of Beowulf against Grendel the author states the importance of “wyrd” or fate in Gods eyes, “Past and present, Gods will prevails” (Heaney 1058).This passage shows the importance and the belief of God in every day decisions that obviously was the current trait among the people of this time. The culture these people lived, they believed that God would help them prevail in war or die in glory, which they felt was the only way to truly die as a Scandinavian. This concept gave the people who constantly were fighting war, the belief that if they die during war, they are not seen as inept as a person; it was Gods decision for them to die in glory. If however, they did win any fight they were engaging in, they believed that it’s
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This note was uploaded on 03/31/2010 for the course ENG 111 taught by Professor Barber during the Spring '09 term at Santa Barbara City.

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kingship in Beowulf - English 111 The Kingship and Beowulf...

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