The progression of British Literature throughout the centuries is both a fascinating and complicated continuum. From humble beginnings in Anglo-Saxon society, through teh renaissance, and all the way to the beautiful, lyrical writing of the romantic poets, the English language has evolved into many different versions. From the time of King Alfred and the popularization of Olde English, to Shakespeare's vast expansion of vocabulary, the English language has always been progressing to fit the needs of ever-demanding authors.
Around the middle of the fifth century, three groups of people came into England. The Normans, the Vikings, and the Romans civilized England. The three cultures combined to form what we now know as Anglo-Saxons. The Anglo-Saxons maintained a war-like society. Highly valued were earthly virtues, such as courage, strength, and lowalty. The Anglo-Saxons were people who didn't believe in an after-life. The central belief of the time was that men's souls would live on through fame and legend. The believed that, father than through a life of eternal paradise, a legacy (such as that of William Shakespeare) would live on via stories and legends.
Literature in the Anglo-Saxon period contained very distinct characteristics. Stories in earlier times were passed down through stories, being mostly oral literature. Scribes eventually began to record these tales, and pass them along throughout generations. One of the most influential of these epic poems in "Beowulf". This legendary account of the famous hero is certainly the epitome of Anglo-Saxon writing. One of these tell-tale characteristics is the inclusion of an epic hero. As an undoubted archetype of what an epic hero is, Beowulf exhibits many traits that make him beloved by his followers, while still keeping him hated by enemies.