Literary Challenge Review: Beowulf
Goodreads Summary: The national bestseller and winner of the Whitbread Award. Composed toward the end of the first millennium, Beowulf is the classic Northern epic of a hero’s triumphs as a young warrior and his fated death as a defender of his people. The poem is about encountering the monstrous, defeating it, and then having to live on, physically and psychically exposed in the exhausted aftermath. It is not hard to draw parallels in this story to the historical curve of consciousness in the twentieth century, but the poem also transcends such considerations, telling us psychological and spiritual truths that are permanent and liberating.
This is the first book that I’ve read for the Literary Movement Challenge. Beowulf is an epic poem about the Scandinavian Hero who overcomes his weaknesses and saves a foreign nation. I had to read this poem for school, and as for the test, I got an 89/100 (thank you bonus points). This was an interesting read: Beowulf is called upon by the King of the Danes (Hrothgar) to kill Grendel. Grendel is a terrifying monster that terrorizes the kingdom and eats soldiers in the king’s mead hall. Coming to the aid of the Danes, Beowulf successfully kills Grendel and Grendel’s mother without any help from his men.
The poem continues. A subject of the king accidentally disturbed a dragon when seeking treasure. Beowulf, who is now old, sets out to defeat the dragon. However, while in battle, he mortally wounded. Since this is an epic poem and follows the seven stages of the Hero’s Journey, Beowulf overcomes his faults and realizes that he requires some assistance from others. Beowulf dies and is honored by his subjects.
I think Beowulf fits the medieval character. The poem itself is written in old english, the language of the time. One of the major themes of medieval literature is chivalry. Throughout the whole poem, Beowulf practices and lives by the code of chivalry. He honored the men he fought with and would never let the greater good be endangered.
This literature period shows the basic foundation for the rest of the literature periods. Other major themes include sin, love, and friendship…. sound familiar? These major themes will only evolve throughout the centuries and the different literature periods.