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Beowulf: The Great Hero

The epic Beowulf is considered to be one of the masterpieces of English literature, which was composed in Old English. The poem Beowulf depicts heroic deeds and honor that define the history of Anglo-Saxon culture to a great extent. Though Beowulf has had a diminutive direct impact on the improvement of English poems and verses, the epic poem is often viewed as a classic Anglo-Saxon literary work and a keystone of modern literature. In English literature, Beowulf is regarded as a great heroic poem. Yet, there are many unknown facts about the poem such as who was the composer, what the condition was, where was the poem written, or the situation while it was being composed. The poem was found in written form and considered that it was written for more than a thousand years ago. The epic depicts the hero, the famous Geatish Beowulf. In this epic, there is also a portrayal of three great battles against some supernatural monsters. In the context of English language and literature, Beowulf is appreciated as one of the premium instances of heroic poetry and an inspirational tale of bravery. Furthermore, the epic provides an attractive view on the early Germanic life.

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In the legend of Beowulf, the heroic figure is to weather different trials where he manages to defeat a demon Grendel. Grendels mother and a fire breathing dragon also get defeated by the hero, Beowulf.

Hrothgar picks up the story again and relates a cautionary tale to Beowulf as he congratulates him on killing Grendels mother. Whereas the Sigemund episode was told as part of the larger celebration of Grendels defeat, this time Hrothgar relates the tale as a direct warning to Beowulf about leadership. (Hague)

Indeed, it is a chronicle of bravery and power where the characters of two kings, Sigmund and Heremond, are portrayed as good and bad accordingly. In the story of Beowulf, the interpolated anecdotes have several purposes like the lesson of heroism, good governance, and preventing abuse of power. The heroic code of honor is showed by King Sigmund. It is a depiction of good governance that is represented by Sigmund. Sigmund stands for a dragon killer and a brave king. The people of his country are respected and given many gifts by the hero Beowulf when he becomes King. Beowulf has learned from Sigmund how to govern. Sigmunds legend is a prophecy of what is in store for Beowulfs own life. Sigmund is able to become successful in several battles where he fights with his utmost might. Like Sigmund, Beowulf has defeated his enemies and is able to prevail over some apparently difficult tasks, including defeating Grendel, his mother, and a fire-breathing dragon. The treasures he gets from Hrothgar as a sign of friendliness and kindness are given to his King Hygelac. These all are the evidences of Beowulfs importance and value as a knight. Both Beowulf and Sigmund possess the warrior code of honor since on the verge of death, both of them fight rather than run away to live a shameful and cowardly life.

Another interpolated story is the story of King Heremond. This story serves as an influential lesson to Beowulf. The story is described by Hrothgar to Beowulf since it is a caution against the exploitations of power and especially to let him be informed of his ultimate goal if the way is chosen. The successful ruler of the Danes, Hrothgar, constructs a superb mead hall, Herot, to allocate the spoils of war with his chaps. An evil monster, named Grendel, who hangs around the moors nearby, is so jealous of the cheerfulness at Herot that one night he enters the hall and captures thirty of the Hrothgars warriors. The demon pulls the men to his hole for slaughter and starts a twelve-year terror and oppression. When Beowulf, the greatest warrior, comes to know the plight of Danes, he collects fourteen of his daring soldiers and makes a journey to Denmark. Beowulf gets a warm reception by Hrothgar. He faces an unfriendly warrior of Hrothgar, named Unferth. He feels jealous of Beowulfs fame and suggests Beowulf that he should not challenge Grendel. If he tries to do so, he will be defeated. The same night, Grendel comes to Herot and starts fighting with Beowulf. The monster Grendel is mortally injured after one of his arms is torn up by the hero Beowulf. The next day, Danes hang Grendels arm on the beam of Herot, and Hrothgar holds a conquest festival. It is a short-lived victory due to the avenging attitude of Grendels mother.

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Sigmunds episode is the first episode that begins on the line 874. The story is based on Icelandic legend and was popular during the Middle Ages. It predicts Beowulfs fight with the dragon in the last part of the book. The episode articulates with Heremod, a famous Danish king:

The king was betrayed, / ambushed in Jutland, / overpowered/and done away with. / The waves of his grief / had beaten him down, / made him a burden, / a source of anxiety / to his own nobles: /that expedition/ was often condemned/ in those earlier times / by experienced men, / men who relied/ his Lordship for redress, /who presumed that the part / of a prince was to thrive/ on his fathers throne / and defend the nation.../ But evil entered / into Heremod (Heaney, Seamus. lines 901-914).

In this passage, Heremod is portrayed as a burden and source of anxiety to his aristocrats, exactly a conflicting character in comparison to a real king. The legitimate king is peoples ruler, donor of gifts, and their guard. If he fails to do so, he is not considered as a superior king. Heremods men assume that he will do his duty flourishing on his fathers throne. Presently, that is only one role for the king to play. The fate of the king Heremod is essentially bound with the destiny of his nation. As he repudiates to allow his own fortune, his evil events intimidate his nation and their lifestyle as well.

Finnsburg and Freawaru episodes are here after that. Collapse of custom and convention to bring peace and harmony to the Scandinavians are the main concern of these dark episodes. In the Finnsburg episode, the marriage between the Frisian Finn and the Danish Hildebuhr as a discussed end of hostilities becomes unsuccessful to preserve order. Afterward, Beowulf discusses Hrothgars daughter, Freawaru, betrothed to the Heathobard prince in the hope that the marriage will cure old injuries and serious feuds. He predicts that the end of hostilities will fail when just one elderly spearman is capable of raising the problem.

Having some sorts of failure in all these scenes of the old ways to deal with the new world successfully, the tale can be regarded as one of the finest compositions in the history of English literature. It is inquisitive to find so much revelation in a manuscript about the great hero, Beowulf, who becomes successful to slay the giant Grendel, Grendels mother, and the dragon. The audience must think of its essence and significance to judge Beowulfs sovereignty as a king and his encounter with the dragon, considering these things. He is the hero of the heroes. It is because of his greatness as a warrior or because he is a great king.

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