Beowulf: The Influence Of Anglo-Saxon Culture On English Lit. Essay, Research Paper
Epic poem is one of the first forms of literature developed by the Anglo-Saxon people. The epic hero is the main character of the epic poem, and must contain certain extraordinary qualities. The qualities of the epic hero often include; bravery, strength, and leadership. Moreover, the qualities of the epic hero were influenced by the rugged culture of the Anglo-Saxon society. Bravery in their culture had developed in a time of great violence and brutality. This brutality is evident in the beginning of Beowulf: “He slipped through the door snatched up thirty men, smashed them the blood dripping behind him” (12 / 20-23). In a time as cruel as the early 700’s, bravery had become a much-admired trait; ” having come to him from over the open sea, you have come bravely and are welcome ” (14 / 100-102). Beowulf is a prime example of the brave epic hero: ” Beowulf, had killed Grendel.” (19 / 330-332) Also, during the Anglo-Saxon reign, various warring clans who constantly battled each other for control of the surrounding countryside inhabited the land. Within these clans, those who exhibited instinctive leadership skills were greatly respected by the others: ” None of the wise ones regretted his going Beowulf chose the mightiest men he could find ” (14 / 117-121). Beowulf’s leadership is evident throughout the epic. Beowulf effectively organized his troops for combat against Grendel; ” Beowulf arose, ordering a few to stay behind leading the others ” (14 / 135-138). His men’s devotion to their leader is also shown. As Grendel
Camden 2 attacked Beowulf, Beowulf’s men attempted to intercede on his behalf: ” All Beowulf’s band jumped from their beds to protect their prince ” (19 / 314-317). As a result of the aggressiveness and brutality displayed in the Anglo-Saxon culture, heroes such as Beowulf were revered for their higher level of physical prowess. ” Beowulf strongest of the Geats – greater and stronger than anyone else in the world ” (13 / 109-111). Beowulf’s strength becomes evident to the reader during his fight with Grendel; “Grendel clutched at Beowulf with his claws and was instantly seized himself, claws bent back as Beowulf leaned on one arm ” (18 / 265-269). The use of sheer physical power to destroy Grendel won him the respect of the Danes: ” After that bloody combat the Danes laughed with delight.” (19 / 342-343), “No Dane doubted the Victory ” (20 / 352-353). Beowulf would become renowned as a figure of great physical strength. The Anglo-Saxon culture of the 8th century greatly influenced the values that are attributed to early epic heroes. As a result of the chaotic world of violence, warfare, and destruction [with few real heroes] that typified early Anglo-Saxon culture, they were bound to create fictional heroes endowed with the characteristics that were in short supply. Beowulf is the first known example of the picturesque Anglo-Saxon hero.