Critical Essay on Beowulf
Beowulf is an epic poem in which the plot is intended to portray the unique heroism of German warriors. As the poem’s main personality, Beowulf displays exceptional boldness and extraordinary strength whenever confronted by fierce enemies. Additionally, he takes pride in his glorious actions that have earned him great fame throughout the poem. The reader can easily recognize in the epic the great heroic values of a society, such as the commitment to honor the responsibilities of a leader, whilst at the same time disregarding the safety of his warriors in an effort to defeat a dangerous foe. For instance, Beowulf allows Grendel to kill some of the warriors in an effort to surprise Grendel when he reaches for Beowulf. Beowulf also sets aside prudence when he pursues and fights with Grendel’s mother. Basing on the heroic nature of the poem, one would have expected Beowulf to put the safety of his men before anything else. On the contrary, Beowulf’s intent to defeat the monster supersedes his concern for lives of his men. Clearly, Beowulf focuses more on what is expected of a hero from his people than he does for personal safety or the safety of those who serve under him.
This poem offers two perspectives of the key character. On the one side is a heroic Beowulf who is very brave in battle and leads his people to victory. The hero aspect in Beowulf begins for the main character at a young age, when he boldly participates in defending his kingdom by fighting two ferocious monsters. As the poem concludes, Beowulf is seen as a seasoned king who is viewed by his people as a veteran guardian. As a result of his heroic leadership, the Gaelic people enjoy profound peace as well as prosperity. Correspondingly, when a dragon threatens the security of the Gaelic people, the elderly king uses his heroic bravery to fight it alone. As is typical in any kingdom led by a heroic individual, the death of Beowulf is followed by the eventual destruction of the Gaelic people.
On the other hand, the poem presents very few features of Beowulf as a regular human being. It is obvious that the poet has chosen to largely ignore Beowulf’s human aspects, and instead, depicts him as a superhuman hero. This is illustrated in the poet’s preference to concentrate on the exceptional exploits undertaken by Beowulf, typically the killing of brutal monsters. Because of this deliberate omission, the reader grasps a very minimal understanding of Beowulf’s daily activity and the way he relates with his closest associates. Similarly, the reader is only able to get a substantially sketchy picture of what Beowulf’s true feelings are. The reason for this is because the purpose of the epic poem is to illustrate to its people the characteristics they are to emulate in their own lives. However, considering that Beowulf’s heroism does not shield him from occurrences common to human beings, such as suffering, ageing, and death, it would have been better if the poet offered a picture of the human side of this apparently brave warrior, as well.
Tips on critical essay writing:
Some students find literature difficult to comprehend. Such students are likely to find critical analyses of literary works highly helpful. Thus, when writing a critical essay on a poem such as Beowulf, one should keep the language as simple as possible. By all means, the writer must avoid repeating phrases used in the poem. Another hint to good essay critiquing is to highlight important issues, and then identify mistakes or inadequately addressed areas. This will entice the reader to want to read more of the poem, in addition to teaching him how to critique a poem.
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