Major Themes of Beowulf

In: English and Literature

Submitted By blaine
Words 1177
Pages 5
Strength, Power, Heroism, and Courage. These are among the central themes that encompass the epic of Beowulf and allow the reader to take an intimate look at Anglo-Saxon society. Beowulf, the hero of this story, is the focal point, demonstrating his phenomenal super human abilities throughout the epic as he conquers and kills anything dangerous or beastly in his path. Although Beowulf is viewed as a superhero, Hrothgar, does not hesitate to present Beowulf with the best advice that he can muster. Hrothgar’s guidance is essential in outlining the basic and most vital themes of the epic. He warns Beowulf about overweening, resenting tradition, and dishonoring customs, among many other points. As seen in this passage, the themes of wyrd, paganism, and heroism are clearly distinct in Seamus Heaney’s Beowulf through the harrowing adventures retold.
The concept of wyrd, or a sense of inevitable doom, is a central theme in Beowulf, demonstrated by the constant reminder that the destruction of events or people will most definitely occur. When Hrothgar bestows his advice upon Beowulf, it is stated that “ancestral possessions/ and the goods he hoarded are inherited by another/ who lets them go with a liberal hand”, which clearly exemplifies a belief in ultimate ruin (ll 1756-7). Despite the honor that one must earn in order to receive such goods, once one dies it no longer has any meaning, showing how gloomy the Anglo-Saxon society was in it’s outlook about death. Additionally, Heorot Hall, the great meade hall built my Hrothgar’s men is not exempt from this concept. Although Heorot Hall is described as “the hall of halls”, it is also stated that it is “awaiting a barbarous burning” (ll 78-3). This great meade hall seems to be exceptionally well built and stalwart since it is described as being towering with extremely high and wide gables. However, it is not believed...