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Beowulf a Poem Translated by Seamus Heaney Essay

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In the poem, Beowulf, by an unknown poet, as translated by Seamus Heaney, we see many monstrous behaviors. A few of the examples stand out more than the rest: wanton destruction, a woman acting as a man, and the act of killing one’s kin.
Wanton destruction goes against the ideals that governed the Anglo-Saxon culture. The warrior kings had duties to uphold. We see that they revered kings who would bring protection and give freely to the young and old and not cause harm. One good illustration of this is the nature in which King Hrothgar dispensed his wealth, he dispensed it to the needy and he didn’t give away “the common land or the people’s lives” (71-73).
In contrast we see Grendel, a descendent of Cain, depicted as being a demon, raging without a true cause. He killed just for the sake of killing and the mere thought made his mouth water. A vivid picture was painted of this when the poet wrote “his glee was demonic picturing the mayhem” (730-31). It is clear that he has a huge appetite for wanton destruction. The poet describes him as a “God-Cursed brute creating havoc:” mercilessly rushing in and snatching up 30 men while they were sleeping, “flushed up from his raid, blundering back with the butchered corpses” (122-24). No one was safe not the young or the old, they too, were seen to as prey to Grendel (159). This behavior was not acceptable and was brought up by Unferth to Beowulf; he throws it in his face by saying that Grendel “kills without fear of reprisal” (600-01). This monstrous behavior of wanton destruction is not just indentified in monsters but even in the lords themselves.
A clear example of this is seen when Lord Hrothgar addressed Beowulf about what could become of him if he were to change his course of h...


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...esies by being a peace weaver and to be thoughtful in her words and actions. Furthermore, when a woman steps out of her place she is frowned upon and is used as an example of what not to emulate. This clarifies to the reader that this is in fact monstrous. It is clear to the reader when there is an act of monstrosity because the action will be done without reason. Such as when a king decides to have his anger blanketed over his family and his subjects, not acted as the protector and ring giver that is expected of him. One might say that the lords may act in vengeance and could say that that alone is monstrous behavior. A reader may consider actions to be monstrous based on the reader’s culture and upbringing; however it is not the place the reader to so judge characters of a different era.



Works Cited

Beowulf. Trans. Seamus Heaney . New Yourk: Norton, 2000.Print


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