“Beowulf, the oldest of the great long poems written in English, may have been composed more than twelve hundred years ago, in the first half of the eighth century, although some scholars would place it as late as the tenth century. ” This was the first sentence I read in, The Norton Anthology (eighth edition volume one), on Beowulf and I stopped and said to myself, “Here goes another extremely long and boring story”, but I was absolutely wrong. I was interestingly intrigued with Beowulf, line by line I could hardly wait to read what would happen next.
Apparently there is argument that Beowulf may have strong individual oral input throughout the story even though, The Norton Anthology, states that it is widely believed that Beowulf is the work of a single poet who was Christian and that his poem reflects well-established Christian tradition, which could be taken into consideration since some lines have Christian reference; line 224 to 228, “It was the end of their voyage and the Geats vaulted over the side, out on to the sand and moored their ship. There was a clash of mail and a thresh of gear. They thanked God for that easy crossing on calm sea. The Norton Anthology also states that in 1731, before any modern transcript of the text had been made, the manuscript was seriously damaged in a fire.
Since facts obviously show that the manuscript of Beowulf was rewritten over periods of time, I guess questions would be relevant regarding the authors. Did various authors put their own underpinnings or set of ideas into the story Beowulf? In this essay I will explain why I don’t support the argument that the literature Beowulf has oral underpinnings through descriptions, regularity and organization. They had seen me boltered in the blood of enemies, when I battled and bound five beasts, raided a troll-nest and in the night-sea slaughtered sea-brutes” lines 419 to 422. So every reader probably agrees that many descriptions are exaggerated in the literature Beowulf, but it’s all consistent. Beowulf was seen as this almighty, untouchable, mystical hero; Beowulf himself contained the power of thirty warriors. I believe that if various writers were to put their own ideas into the literature, descriptions would be different throughout the story, but they aren’t.
Line 1279 to 1287, “She came to Heorot. There, inside the hall, Danes lay asleep, earls who would soon endure a great reversal, once Grendel’s mother attacked and entered. Her onslaught was less only by as much as an amazon warrior’s strength is less than an armed man’s when the hefted sword, it’s hammered edge and gleaming blade slathered in blood, razes the sturdy boar-ridge off a helmet. ” These lines explain the power of the revengeful mother of Grendel; the words are still dramatic, yet, consistent. Consistent imagery shows that it was the work of a single author.
Think of two completely different cartoons, The Simpsons and Family Guy, the characters are drawn completely different. If the animators of Family Guy were to draw the cartoon characters of the Simpsons you would notice, right? Regularity, pace or rhythm, regardless of which form one chooses to use the regularity in Beowulf is definitely applicable. The literature flows so consistently, sort of like a puzzle, he pieces connect so well. Town has trouble, hero hears of the trouble, hero saves town, hero dies; it’s the age old comic book story.
This literature is too well connected to have ideas of numerous authors, projects with too many ideas is usually disastrous. The beginning and end of the literature especially coincide with each other. It starts off with the funeral of a great king, Shield Sheafson. Line 4 to 11, “There was Shield Sheafson, scourge of many tribes, a wrecker of mead-benches, rampaging among foes. This terror of the hall-troops had come far. A foundling to start with, he would flourish later on as his powers waxed and his worth proved. In the end clan on the outlying coasts beyond the whale-road had to yield him and begin to pay tribute.
That was one good king. ” In the end of the literature, Beowulf, another great king is buried. Line 3178 to 3182, “So the Geat people, his hearth –companions sorrowed for the lord who had been laid low. They said that of all the kings upon earth he was the man most gracious and fair-minded, kindest to his people and keenest to win fame. ” In comparison, I would refer to the children’s story, Goldilocks and the Three Bears. In the story, Goldilocks, tries three sizes of porridge, three sizes of chairs, and three sizes of beds. The three sizes she tries are small, medium and large.
If Goldilocks, tries the small bowl of porridge, the medium bowl of porridge and the large bowl of porridge, then she discovers the chairs and tries the small, medium and large, but when discovering the beds only tries the small bed and medium bed the audience would be caught. Why didn’t she try the large bed? The story wouldn’t flow if she didn’t discover objects and try all three sizes. Beowulf didn’t have missing pieces, the poem had rhythm, and it flowed smoothly. Organization is most likely crystal-clear to most audiences when reading the literature Beowulf.
One would think that most see the story organized by the three battles. The first battle being with Grendel and Beowulf, the second with Grendel’s mother and Beowulf and the third would be the dragon and Beowulf. I believe that organizing the poem in this manner helps the reader to remember significant trials in the poem. Organizing this poem by battle also gives a clear view of Beowulf and his many triumphs; it’s almost as if you already know that in the end he would eventually fail. Even though he was a great king, hero’s never last forever.
I believe that only one person, the original writer could’ve written such an organized poem. Beowulf is an outstanding poem, and I believe it to be one of a kind. No one can be completely sure of its original version, but I would like to believe that authors wouldn’t interfere with the findings of a genre of old English long epics. In, The Norton Anthology is states that it may be possible that this poem, Beowulf, is the lone survivor of old English epics. This poem could be the only insider of heroic language, style and pagan world of ancient Germanic oral poetry.
The literature only shows one datable fact of history and that is of the raid in the year of 520, on the Franks, in which Hygelac was killed. I expressed my reasons of not supporting the argument that Beowulf has oral underpinnings, but another’s decision is up to them. I’m not sure if dragons, sea monsters, and men of magnifying strength really existed but through descriptive dialogue, consistent regularity throughout the story and the obvious three part organization, I would say that I proved a valid point; hopefully the original author’s document was not tainted, hopefully the poem of Beowulf is as true as one would like to believe.
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