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Beowulf Sample Essay

The perception of good and evil reflects not only the moral aspects of a person’s life, but it indicates a certain transformation of public consciousness that takes place in the process of historical and cultural interaction, which is the result of a collision of various factors including external and internal ones. The study of these philosophical categories in different historical epochs is one of the leading historical problems.

The perception of good and evil is presented in various sources. First of all, it is a literary creation of humankind, which is the main source of research devoted to the study of various aspects of the life of a particular people in different historical epochs. The epic poem Beowulf is one of these sources. It is one of the examples of the medieval heroic epic. The poem originated on the basis of ancient Germanic traditions, related to pagan times. These legends appeared among Germanic tribes long before the Anglo-Saxon resettlement on the territory of Britain. The action of the poem takes place on the shores of the Baltic Sea; its plot is borrowed from mythology.

The opposition of good and evil plays an important role in the dualistic myths. Each of the characters and symbols refers either to the positive series as the bearer of good or to the negative row as the embodiment of the evil. The story of this largest Anglo-Saxon epic is simple. Beowulf, a young knight from the Gauth people, having heard of the disaster of the King of the Danes of Higelak, of the attacks of the monster Grendel on his palace, and the gradual annihilation of the King’s vigilante for twelve years goes beyond the sea to kill Grendel. Having defeated him, he then kills another monster in the new combat. It was Grendel’s mother, who tried to avenge her son’s death. Flushed with rewards and gratitude, he returns to his homeland. Here he commits new feats, and later becomes the King of Gauts and ruled the country successfully for fifty years. After this period, he enters into battle with the dragon, which devastates the neighborhood, being angry at the attempt to protect the ancient treasure. Beowulf manages to defeat this monster, but at the cost of his own life. The epic ends with a scene of solemn burning on the funeral pyre of the hero’s body and the construction of the mound over his ashes and the treasure he conquered.

The protagonist is not a historical person, but in the poem, it is possible to find, in the form of brief episodes or even only occasional hints, echoes of historical events, strife and battles among themselves and with their southern neighbors. The image of the protagonist reflected popular ideas about the hero, who tames the forces of nature. He is the embodiment of the moral ideal of the heroic personality of the early Middle Ages.

In the image of Beowulf, the qualities of the entire tribe are concentrated. The very image of a mighty warrior, personifying the strength and power of his tribe, devoid of individual traits, but endowed with hyperbolic virtues, is aimed at fulfilling the main task facing him. It is the protection of the tribe (one’s own and the friendliness) from monsters. One of the main functions of the ideal of the medieval knight (the ideal that dates back to the time of the early Middle Ages) is the mission (function) of the defender and fair judge. This is evident from the very poem. The fulfillment of this task is ensured by the totality of qualities that Beowulf endows. These are power, courage, and loyalty to duty. All these qualities are elevated to the highest, unattainable for others degree.

The epic world of the poem is the world of opposing good and evil, a world of heroic deed, hyperbolized feelings, and opportunities, the world in which real life is reflected, but only with a heroic, festive, unconventional side. This world is opposed to the ordinary one but reflects all its contradictions. Good in the poem is expressed through the image of Beowulf; evil is depicted through his enemies, monsters who will be defeated in any case by the forces of good.

Works Cited

Glover, Julian, and Sheila Mackie. Beowulf. Sutton Pub., 2005.
Petrucha, Stefan, and Kody Chamberlain. Beowulf. HarperTrophy, 2007.
Tolkien, J. R. R., et al. Beowulf. Boekerij, 2014.


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