Beowulf Journal Response
The epic poem Beowulf is a heroic tale fueled by vengeance and personal glory. Penned by an unknown author this story takes place in Scandinavia during a time of bloody unrest for a tribe known as the Danes. The poem largely revolves around three grand battles involving the hero Beowulf, family friend to the Danes and champion of the Geats. Moreover, the allusions to the Christian faith and usage of unknown words, or hapax legomena, as well as its length set this piece of literature apart from most anything ever written.
The poem’s setting is that of a society built around lords and their voluntary soldiers, or thanes. Beowulf is one such thane who sails to the aid of the Danes who are being ravaged by the monster known as Grendel. Beowulf slays not only the beast, but the creature’s mother as well after she retaliates for the death of her son. Hrothgar, king of the Danes, congratulates Beowulf and adorns him with many tokens of appreciation and counsels him to be weary of his pride as he returns to his homeland. Fifty years pass and Beowulf, now king of his people, is drawn into one last conflict with an enraged dragon. He and his men confront the monster but he insists that he fight the dragon alone and in doing so seals his fate as he is mortally wounded in the ensuing battle.
The precise date that Beowulf was written is not known however it is believed to have been somewhere between the eighth and tenth century. The original manuscript survived a fire that destroyed the building housing it and several other medieval English manuscripts made by Sir Robert Bruce Cotton. As a result many lines and words are forever lost; interestingly enough some of the surviving terms are unique to the epic as they fail to appear anywhere else in literature.
Also remarkable is the familiarity with which the poet writes about Christian based ideas such as Hrothgar’s poet’s reference to Earth’s...