Words on ‘Beowulf’ from Seamus Heaney

For your Blog post on the fantastic Old English epic ‘Beowulf’, I want you to respond to the words of its most famous translator: the Nobel-Prize winning Irish poet Seamus Heaney. You may pick and choose his words as you will, and I would like for you to use/apply them to particular elements in the text in order to provide some fresh insights into the meaning and significance of this work – a poem that is simultaneously similar to other mythical works we have seen while being very, very different. In Heaney’s words, readers of the poem “are bound to feel a certain “shock of the new.” This is because the poem possesses a mythic potency. Like Shield Sheafson, it arrives from somewhere beyond the known bourne of our experience, and having fulfilled its purpose (again, like Shield), it passes once more into the beyond. . . . The “Finnsburg Episode” envelops us in a society that is at once honour-bound and blood-stained, presided over by the laws of the blood-feud, where the kin of a person slain are bound to exact a price for the death, either by slaying the killer or by receiving satisfaction in the form of ‘wergild’ (the “man-price”), a legally fixed compensation. The claustrophobic and doom-laden atmosphere of this interlude gives the reader an intense intimation of what ‘wyrd,’ or fate, meant not only to the characters in the Finn story but to those participating in the main action of ‘Beowulf’ itself. All conceive of themselves as hooped within the great wheel of necessity, in thrall to a code of loyalty and bravery bound to seek glory in the eye of the warrior world. . . . It has often been observed that all the scriptural references in ‘Beowulf’ are to the Old Testament. The poet is more in sympathy with the tragic, waiting, unredeemed phase of things than with any transcendental promise.”


35 thoughts on “Words on ‘Beowulf’ from Seamus Heaney

  1. I think that Beowulf is a great story, and that it can be directly connected to other mythological texts. For example, although Beowulf appears to be some sort of superhero, he is a normal human with high strength capabilities. Almost all of the heroes from mythological texts are humans and have some sort of extreme capability. Another common thing that happens with other heroes is that they all have tragic flaws. In this case, Beowulf, “had little cause to brag/ about his armed guard; yet God who ordains/ who wins or loses allowed him to strike/ with his own blade when bravery was needed” (Heaney 193). In common English, what Wiglaf, his best friend is saying is that Beowulf was too prideful. Beowulf did not ask for any help from anyone when battling the dragon because he wanted to prove that he was still as capable of killing it as he was long ago when he killed Grendel and his mother. This is also most commonly known as a downfall. In essence, Beowulf is very similar to all of the mythical texts. This not only includes the ones we have read, but countless others, as well.

    • I agree with both points, in that Beowulf was human, since we are not given information to think otherwise, but he had definite superhuman abilities, such as swimming under water for an extended amount of time and having the more strength than a monster, who was no doubt feared for its strength, to name one fear-imposing characteristic. I also agree that he did have an obvious issue of pride, for not only wanting to take down a serpent in his old age to prove himself but also that he fought most of these monsters because of the riches he would be rewarded for and the recognition he would receive rather than doing it unanimously without recognition or reward, but just because it was the right thing for someone of his talent to do.

      • Though I agree with all the points previously made, I also think these points make Beowulf different from the things we have previously read. Yes, he is still somewhat super human, and yes, he has a tragic flaw, but its different from what we have seen before. The characters we have dealt with before all had some sort of relation or favor to some sort of higher power, whether it be a God or not. In some stories, the main characters themselves WERE in fact Gods. But in Beowulf, as far as we know, he is completely human. He has some….interesting abilities. But those are never actually explained. I also don’t think he was feared so much for his strength, as he was respected for it. I also think, though maybe not completely knew, his flaw of pride is different then what we have seen in the past. Most other characters met their downfall due to wanting power and control. Not trying to prove that they could still do the things they once had done before.

        • I agree with this very important point. Beowulf is one of the few mythical heroes we have encountered that is not directly interacting with some form of deities. Beowulf, while having some unrealistic talents and powers, is a man through and through. The main god talked about in this story is the Christian god, but he is never actually seen as a real person, just more of a cultural pillar. Beowulf has no divine interventions helping him to accomplish his goals; he has only his men, his weapons, and himself.

  2. I the story of Beowulf we can see the “Finnsburg Episode” in affect. This states that when someone or something is slain or killed there is always a reaction to it. For example if a the hero slays the monster there are rewards for his bravery and ability to accomplish something no one else could do. We see this happening in Beowulf as well when he defeats Grendel, Hrothgar presents him with treasure and riches. However there is more to the “Finnsburg Episode”. Because Beowulf killed Grendel, Grendel’s mother came to see revenge upon Beowulf and the people. One of the kings advisers paid the price because Beowulf killed Grendel. We then see the affect again because Beowulf then goes of and kills Grendel’s mother and once again showered with gift and riches. Here we can see the effect of when a hero slays a monster, he gains riches and praise. This is often the case in many mythical stories.

  3. Heaney states that this story gives us a ” claustrophobic and doom-laden atmosphere” i find this to be very true because its always dark and gloomy seeming never talk about the sunshine or plant life. you also feel like beowulf was destined to fight creatures just to die. This is very similar to many other myths because the character feels that he is destined to fight these demons as many other hero’s are in a lot of the other myths but it differs in a huge way the gods are not really present as much they dont pray to oden or thor they just use their names. The dialouge as welll gives us a new feeling for myth instead of the traditional greek dialouge and various others.

  4. Beowulf was a tale of great heroics. Anyone can see that the story of Beowulf was and still is an epic poem. Beowulf goes on a great journey and accomplishes many feats. He is seen as the superhero to is time. He can also be seen as the English version of a mythological hero. Beowulf had superhuman talents that aided him during his times of need. One word that stuck out to me in Heaney’s words was “bravery”. Bravery means to fight in a just manor and to fight with great honor. Beowulf was the exact example of someone who fought with bravery. Never did Beowulf flee from a battle. He was never afraid to fight whoever stood in his way. He wasn’t afraid of Grendel. He wasn’t afraid to dive into a lake and battle Grendel’s mother. Also Beowulf fought with courage and honor. Beowulf did not fight dirty like most men, instead he fought in the most righteous way. Beowulf was and still remains a key example of bravery.

    • I agree Beowulf is a brave hero; he fights to protect his people and is well respected. Beowulf through time becomes almost a stock character in litterateur used to describe a brave hero. Beowulf doesn’t fight dirty like most men, when he fights Grendel he doesn’t use his sword because the noble thing for him to do is to fight Grendel hand to hand to make it a fair combat. For this he gains respect and a mighty reputation, the people say he has the strength of four healthy men; others may even compare him to a god. Not only does Beowulf fight Grendel and his mother, but he also enters into his last battle knowing it is going to be his last. Beowulf enters into battle with this dragon with none but his friend Wiglaf by his side; he gets burned and dies in battle. The dragon is slain but so is Beowulf but he died a noble man and Wiglaf sees to it that a tall tower with walls lined with treasure is built in his honor. Weather the treasure in the walls is physical or metaphorical is up for interpretation.

  5. Beowulf is certainly a classical tale of myth and tragedy, as well as an epic journey of a hero. We see Beowulf as the heroic character with super-human strength, who can kill a monster with his bare hands. This is evident throughout the text as a whole. Heany says, “This is because the poem possesses a mythic potency. Like Shield Sheafson, it arrives from somewhere beyond the known bourne of our experience, and having fulfilled its purpose (again, like Shield), it passes once more into the beyond. . .” The purpose of Beowulf is to bring hope to the darkest of times. War, battle, blood-shed, and deadly monsters are a huge part of Beowulf’s story, but it is easy to see hope being humanized in such a great heroic figure. You see the most gruesome monsters being defeated, which shows that hope and bravery can always overcome the evil of our worlds.

  6. Heaney says readers of the poem “are bound to feel a certain “shock of the new.” I believe this is because many can relate Beowulf to many other mythological texts. It is so similar to many other stories, as Beowulf goes on his journey, takes pride in helping his people, but in the end he dies fighting the dragon because he never once asked for help, he was much too prideful in his own strength. It was because of this that he failed, he did not believe in “aid”. Beowulf believed that he was the almighty, and he did not need any help whatsoever to defeat his foes. This is similar to many other heroes we have read about in class.

    • I agree that Beowulf does share some similar aspects with some older myths we have read. Beowulf the man is very much like other heroes in other stories. He is seen as a brave and strong man that can do anything but, he also has a fatal flaw that eventually leads to his inevitable downfall. It is no surprise that Beowulf’s fatal flaw is his pride, his refusal of the aid of other people and material items. All these are clear parallel between Beowulf and more ancient texts, so it is not essentially “shocking” to the readers. I found that the most surprising part of the text was the different values that the common people seemed to share. In Beowulf, everyone lived by an understanding of the wergild, which is much like “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and a life for a life.” Even Beowulf was fine to live by this unspoken rule of needless violence. It was strange to read a story of a so-called hero who doesn’t really stand for the same values that we do. Up until now, we have read about heroes who are noble and have good intentions and are always thinking about the greater good. In Beowulf, the biggest shock to the readers is how different Beowulf’s motives are. He is driven by a desire for personal glory, gain, and revenge rather than to save peoples lives or to please the gods. What separates Beowulf and other myths the most is who Beowulf is as a person and how he handles situations differently than other heroes that we have read about up to this point.

  7. The story of Beowulf is distinctly un-classical because that would be where one would get the greatest “mythical potency”. The story of Beowulf reminds distinctly of something that is not explicitly related to myth, but relevant to a part of the story’s nature. When people first came to the American continent, it was referred to as the Devil’s last refuge or the Devil’s land and it was said to be populated by a host of demons. This natural demonizing of the unknown world is seen in Beowulf as well since the creatures that appear out of the unknown wilderness are related to evil without much being known about them. At this point in history where the majority of large scale communication was cut off, the unknown was evil and demonic whereas the classical unknown was not always inherently evil. For the Anglo-Saxons, Beowulf was not just defeating evil when he kills monster; he was also defeating the unknown since the two were one and the same. The defeat of the unknown is a staple of myth and with there being a lot of unknown in the Anglo-Saxon world Beowulf’s fights are a potent venture into the unknown.

  8. The old english text of Beowulf is a very interesting text that shows us the early European tribes and how even their society worked so some degree. The part I find most interesting is the “Finnsburg Episode”, and you can really see how it applies in this text. The Finnsburg Episode tells us that basically for every action there is a reaction. One perfect example is Beowulf taking off Grendel’s arm and later killing him , this in turn leads to a bigger fight between Grendel’s mom and Beowulf. Even today the “Finnsburg Episode” is in our society widely with people taking revenge on other people and then leading into a big cycle of endless violence. The text of Beowulf shows us many characteristics and values of the society and one of the most important is bravery. Everyone tries to prove their bravery by trying to kill Grendel, but Beowulf shows exceptional bravery by using no armor or weapons and winning the battle.

  9. Beowulf is an outstanding piece of poetic art. The example I would like to explain this reasoning is the description of the moor. When Beowulf goes to the moor to kill Grendel’s mother, the lake’s description is beautifully written. The lake is described to be bloodstained. The trees are twisted and dead. There are horrible sea monsters lurking beneath the surface. There is not source of life around the moor, and that is the first thing that sets off the mood that “this is no good place” (to quote from the book). The bloodstained water is the other powerful hint that one should fear this place. The purpose of this description is to set off the mood of despair and fear. The author does a wonderful job of this through the description of the moor.

  10. Beowulf has been around for years. In ways it helped shaped the world we live in today. How? One reason it changed the world is because Beowulf was one of the earliest works to begin talking about biblical references. In a way this was helping Christianity rise. If you take Seamus Heaney’s thoughts, about the “scriptural references in ‘Beowulf’ are to the Old Testament” and examine the facts you see this religious aspect. Throughout the poem you see Grendel and the poem makes a reference to Cain. You also see Beowulf can being referred to as God, as some Christians say. We see the dichotomies of pride vs. humility and sacrifice vs. selfishness. Beowulf helped spread these concepts and theories of a hero. Later on you see direct links to the Bible.

    • I agree completely. Beowulf was a man with more than ordinary strength who brought hope to a kingdom. Many would put him on a pedestal because he was the ultimate hero; defeating the villain and lifting morale. When things get difficult, people tend to turn away from God because they want to see the change instead of waiting. As more and more men began to die because of Grendel, fear was a constant emotion. Beowulf’s track record and success in killing both Grendel and his mother was what made him a “god”. The description of the lavish gifts, songs and respect bestowed upon Beowulf is similar to offerings and praises given to God. The honor showed people that being brave made you a hero as well. This ties back to the bible because the old testament had many “heroes”, brave Christians doing great things without a super power. Beowulf did just that but in grander fashion, doing the work himself and without supernatural assistance.

  11. I find Beowulf to be a very complicated poem. It is intricately designed with lessons and mystery. I find that materialistic objects play a key role in the work of Beowulf. The materialistic means happiness, earnings, accomplishments. Beowulf asks to see the dragon’s treasure before he dies; his dying wish. In these materialistic valuable items Beowulf finds comfort; closure in his last mintues. Although it is mentioned that the materialistic is not nearly as important as the other worldly treasures that are provided. There is no doubt Beowulf received these other worldly gifts through his bravery and valor. It is clear that Beowulf in viewing these earthy rewards he saw that his people would find refuge in the treasure while he could let go of these earthy rewards and welcome in the eternal rewards as long as his people had enough to care for them when he left. In the end Beowulf did everything he did to protect people that were strangers, he sought out to save them from monsters and succeeded, in excepting his rewards he let them go once his time came. Lesson learned here is that you may hold materialistic items close while on earth but be prepared to set them free and leave the world in the comfort of eternity.

  12. My favorite quote from this translation of Beowulf is “So times were pleasant for the people there until finally one, a fiend out of hell, began to work his evil in the world.” This description of Grendel, the monster of sorts plaguing the citizens, fascinates me. It did not particularly stick out until I was re-reading Beowulf after I had read John Gardner’s Grendel. In reality, I probably shouldn’t put significance on a selection of text based on a completely separate work, but that bias exists in my mind and I cannot separate it from my thoughts. I think this is perfect because, without really saying HOW Grendel is this evil being, he is deemed the embodiment of hell, chaos, horror, etc. He is a personification of the breaking of peace to the citizens. Most people reading Beowulf focus solely on the “heroism” of our protagonist, but I find the most intriguing the pieces of the translation that revolve around the enemy, Grendel.

  13. My impression that I got from the reading of Beowulf is that the “wyrd”, or fate is an extremely important factor to Beowulf himself. To me though it does not feel like everything that he does is something that was already preordained to happen. It was more like he was fated to become a hero and it is through his own actions and accomplishments that his fate come to fruition. And even that Beowulf is a hero does not truly seem to be his main goal but rather just the glory itself. Sure without a doubt he embodies the ideology behind kinship and loyalty the way he fights for his benefactor Hrothgar and defeats the monster but the fact that he came to Hereot specifically to accomplish that speaks for his true motives. I believe Beowulf is definitely a hero in my eyes and probably the eyes of the people who heard his story around a fire at night from a travelling skald. But he does not kill Grendel and save the mead hall because he is a hero. He is a Hero because he did defeat Grendel’s Mother and vanquished the Dragon.

  14. the tale of Beowulf is not only an example of a “Finnsberg Episode” but is very similar to other mythological texts. such that there is a reaction to everything such as when a hero kills a monster he rewarded with wealth and riches. like when Beowulf kills Grendel and is given riches that is a reaction, but there is also a consequence to every action. in Beowulf after killing Grendel Beowulf causes Grendel’s mother to seek revenge by killing more villagers. Beowulf with like other heroes is what we would call a superhuman with incredible strength but is still however in fact human. in these ways Beowulf is similar to Gilgamesh in how they are both superhuman and their actions result in unforeseen consequences.

  15. Seamus Heaney said the story “Beowulf” features characters which, “All conceive of themselves as hooped within the great wheel of necessity, in thrall to a code of loyalty and bravery bound to seek glory in the eye of the warrior world”. To put it more simply; the main characters in the tale are bound to their kings or their thanes on the quest for glory to make a name for themselves. The notable implication of this being that they are plagued by their own ego, in a way. Hrothgar is only subdued by Grendel because his huge gleaming mead hall is full of rowdy men who sing in his name. Unferth gets thrust down from his people after Beowulf demonstrates that he ought not to talk out of turn or judge another’s boasts, especially considering the murder of his own brother. Finally, Beowulf is smote by the dragon at the end of the tale because he refused assistance in battle, and assumed he could slay the dragon single-handly even in his old age. Wiglaf is the only warrior who is completely courageous, loyal and unprideful, and he survives to become king for his efforts.The story of Beowulf is alike to previous tales in that the proud are often shown the error of their carelessness. Gilgamesh, Odysseus, and Aeneas all had their worldly ambitions ripped from them at one point or another, and in this way Beowulf continues the mythic traditions.

  16. I didn’t think i would like Beowulf as much as I do now. It is an intense, heroic, and adventurous story. The description of all the battles were greatly written. The description of the lake and mess hall were on point. How this story almost went basically extinct is upsetting.”The unique copy (now in the British Library) barely survived a fire in the eighteenth century and was then transcribed and titled, retranscribed and edited, translated and adapted, interpreted and taught, until it has become an acknowledged classic.” Seamus is telling us until it was taught more in classes and other lectures. In reading this story I can’t ever get bored of the story. all the non stop action, descriptive scenery and just informative.

  17. Beowulf is one of those texts, or epic poems that you never forget after reading it due to its sheer power, adventurousness, and tale of bravery. Beowulf himself is considered a hero for the courageous acts he does throughout the poem which makes him extremely likable and on the same “page” as what one would call a superhero today, such as Superman. In the terms of Seamus Heaney, I complete agree with him when he says, readers “are bound to feel a certain “shock of the new.” Beowulf, however, is still considered a mythological text, but is much different than those around or before its time. He is simply a mortal man with the strength of a god and unmatched bravery which is ultimately the cause of his death. Before Beowulf, a story like this was completely unheard of, which is why Heaney is completely right when saying it is a “shock of the new.”

  18. I think a quote from Seamus, that really hits a point in the story is
    “Imagining a hero
    On some muddy compound,
    His gift like a slingstone
    Whirled for the desperate.”
    This is from his poem Exposure.
    I think it can relate because of how alike it sounds of a typical hero. The last part of the quote sticks out the most. Whirled for the desperate, makes it sound like a hero is there for the good, but can get caught up in it all. Some heroes get caught up in the glory, Beowulf however continues to fight for his country, as well as other countries. Beowulf is the perfect representation of a hero that a country needed. Beowulf tells his men to stand back and let him deal with the dragon alone, and he still never feared death. He never once went back to what he thought was his own safety.

  19. As a person who doesn’t really enjoy reading, I must say I am impressed by the story of Beowulf. Heaney mentions the “Finnsburg Episode” and how it refers to the reaction of someone being slain. In the epic poem, Beowulf, on multiple occasions, was given a great amount of compensation for his actions (slaying Grendel and then Grendel’s mother). Aside from the all of the riches, there is a separate reaction to someone being slain. After Beowulf ripped Grendel’s arm off, which lead to the demons death, Grendel’s mother came to seek revenge. Grendel’s mother coming to seek revenge is a direct reaction to the death of her son. Although the riches may seem great for Beowulf, they would end up playing a role in his death. He had grown to prideful from his accomplishments, which lead to him finally being killed by the dragon. The “Finnsburg Episode” is not only relevant to this text, as it seems as if every mythology tale displays its characteristics. This gives us another example on how all mythological stories seem to relate to each other in one way or another.

  20. The “Finnsburg episode” paints a pretty clear picture of the society that Beowulf lived in, a society of brave and honorable warriors loyal to their king and kin. This is apparent when Beowulf travels to the land of the Danes to help his uncle by killing the Grendel, and it is said that Grendel is feared by all except Beowulf. This is also a reference to the Old testament using Grendel as the antagonist because he is a descendent of Cain. Beowulf is well suited for his society because he displays all the characteristics of a great warrior such as bravery, loyalty, and god-like strength, which makes up the traditional hero in mythology.

  21. The words of Heaney that seemed to have the most meaning to me were ” …the kin of a person slain are bound to exact a price for the death, either by slaying the killer or by receiving satisfaction in the form of ‘wergild’ (the “man-price”), a legally fixed compensation.” In the story of Beowulf Grendel’s mother was made out to be significantly monstrous and evil but how can one not sympathize with her. Beowulf killed her son, so how can a mother not wish to seek revenge on her child’s killer. The price for the death of Grendel was that of the life of Beowulf. Our hero sees Grendel’s mother as a monster but from her perspective Beowulf is the evil in the world, she is just a loving mother. And like most mothers, she believes the one that hurt her son deserves the same pain and end result.

    • I agree with this view point completely. As you said, Grendel is the one who is killed, therefore Beowulf is who is supposed to be the bad guy i the situation. Maybe Grendel’s mother was unaware of all the “flesh and blood” eating that Grendel did to the innocent men of his time. I also agree with the quote you incorporated because it sums up the meaning of what it means to take life, such as there is equal pay.

  22. Beowulf is one of those classic stories that is alway referred to when speaking of myth. This is interesting because although it is a myth, it seems different than any of` the other stories told by the Greeks. With this being said I agree wholeheartedly when the author says that Beowulf is a text that leaves a sense of the “new.” This is because the story of Beowulf is like no other. He goes through many battles to be won and while reading it, you also get a sense of understanding. Beowulf is more understandable to a certain degree than any other and that is why it feels new.

  23. In this blog post I will relate the finnsberg episode of Beowulf to the ancient world. This will be Focusing on their code of law to Hammurabi’s code of law. Both of these contain the “eye for an eye” factor in them. This means that if you were to kill someone and get caught you would also be killed. It is a law system that is particularly brutal in the way they treat their criminals. Nothing like the way ours is. Both used legally fixed compensation for any crimes that are committed against someone. For example if you steal you lose a hand, if you kill you are killed, if you basically do anything wrong there will be major consequences. The laws were intact to attempt to keep people of the time in line. Obviously they both worked because the laws were far too scary and had far too great consequences to break.

  24. Beowulf is an epic that compares quite closely to other epics due to the fact that they share many themes. Often in medieval literature we come across a person trying to obtain honor in some way, whether this was because an honorable ego was desired by every man or because the man truly wanted to be a good person, honor is the number one aspect characters like Beowulf desire the most. When it comes to the “Finnsburg Episode” supports this theme because it encompasses us into a honour-bound world where Beowulf ultimately risks his life to saving the kingdom and killing Grendle. This melancholy atmosphere in Beowulf includes many bloody deaths, hardships, and suspense as Grendle’s mother comes to avenge his death. Beowulf actually fits perfectly into the aspect of the “Finnsburg Episode” because it includes someone caring about their ego more than their actual life, and characterizes Beowulf with being brave, loyal, and a hero.

  25. Like we have seen in so many other texts, fate is thrust onto the hero through another character. Usually there is a soothsayer or a fortune-teller character to provide some riddle of the future. This contrasts to how fate is described in Beowulf. There is no character to bring Beowulf his destiny, he himself relies on God. Whenever he is uncertain of the outcome of a battle, he puts his faith in God believing that the ending will be what God wants. Not only did Beowulf leave fate in the hands of this divinity but he believed in only one. This shows the religious importance of the work as it pays respect to a different all-being than what we have seen before. Beowulf is similar to other texts because this idea of fate rings throughout the story, but how it is portrayed is new and different than how older texts represent it.

  26. There are several different examples in the text of “Beowulf” that can relate back to Cain monster myths, the first of which being Grendel. Grendel’s character is shaped to fit the outline of Cain’s life of miserable, doom-filled banishment. He, much like Cain, lived on the outskirts of society, yet not one hundred percent excluded, either. This feeling of exclusion shared by both Grendel and Cain. The two characters are also reckless with their actions, Cain with the killing of his brother and Grendel with the slaughtering of the Danes. The fact that they do not have feelings of remorse for their actions further categorizes them as ‘others.’ Another relation between the author’s words and the characters is through the “Finnsburg Episode.” The Danes live in a society that was once honor-bound but is now blood stained no thanks to Grendel and the misfortunes he has brought upon the group. Beowulf, a Geat, a line of old friends to the Danes, comes to their land and offers his help to the king.

  27. Beowulf is an epic poem that completely envelops Seamus Heaney’s idea of revenge. Heaney declared that “where the kin of a person slain are bound to exact price for death, either by slaying the killer or by receiving satisfaction in the form of ‘wergild,” this is true in the case between Grendel’s Mother and Beowulf. After finding that Beowulf had killed her precious son it is only natural that she be overcome with rage and vengeance. All she wants is to get revenge for her son by killing the very man that ended his life. This dynamic of motherly love invokes a feeling of pity for the mother and almost a grudge against Beowulf. Personally I feel as though Beowulf deserves whatever tragedy he comes across because of his actions to achieve glory. In all I feel like Grendel’s Mother is justified in her pursuit to end Beowulf’s life because after all I am a believer in the “eye for an eye” motto.

  28. Beowulf is a very complicated epic poem. It is full of mystic qualities and shares common themes that most other mythological stories possess. One common theme is the idea of honor. Beowulf desires honor to the extreme and left his land in order to help the Danes kill Grendel so that he can be honored for that. I see Beowulf as a man with a huge ego. I don’t think he goes about getting honor the correct way but rather he boasts and shows off his strength by fighting monsters and completing the tasks others have failed at. There is a melancholy feeling in Beowulf due to the many deaths, fighting, and suspense. The “Finnsburg Episode” is when someone is slain and a person revenges that death. There is definitely a clear viewing of the “Finnsburg Episode” in Beowulf. Beowulf slays Grendel in a hefty battle, with only his bare hands. The “Finnsburg Episode” can be seen when Grendel’s mother seeks revenge on her son’s killer. One of the Thanes ends up being killed by Grendel’s mom in retaliation for Grendel’s murder. The “Finnsburg Episode” continues when Beowulf seeks out Grendel’s mother and goes to defeat her. This also shows how heroes are rewarded for their feats. Beowulf receives many riches for his killing of Grendel and Grendel’s mom.

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