While the code maintains that honor is gained during life through deeds, Christianity asserts that glory lies in the afterlife. From the beginning, Beowulf is rightly concerned about how the rest of the world will see him. Characters are constantly identified as the son, wife, or daughter of a particular man, and as members of this or that tribe.
The difference between these two sets of values manifests itself early on in the outlooks of Beowulf and King Hrothgar. But the only surviving manuscript of Beowulf was written in the 11th century by Christian scribes, who either inserted the Christian overtones to the story, or were working from a manuscript set down by previous Christians who added the Christian elements.
The bright lights and sounds of joy emanating from Hrothgar's magnificent mead-hall, Heorot, especially annoy the ogre. From the beginning, Beowulf is rightly concerned about how the rest of the world will see him. In several ways the poem presents a value system consistent with Christian principles that would have resonated with a medieval audience that saw personal bravery and combat in service to kingdom and church as noble.
He has and continues to amass treasures; his intent now is in building his fame. There are many references to an impersonal fate that controls the destinies of men. Only in the mead-hall is there any respite from the dangers of the world outside.
However, we soon learn that a major motivation is a family debt that Beowulf owes to Hrothgar. Thus individual actions can be seen only as either conforming to or violating the code.
The code is also often in tension with the values of medieval Christianity. Unferth's slur is the worst kind of insult for Beowulf because his reputation is his most valuable possession.
Like the knights of Arthurian legend, whose stories would replace the Norse tales as Theme of beowulf readings among English audiences within a century after the surviving version of Beowulf was transcribed, Beowulf is the model Christian hero.
The mead-hall was also a place of community, where traditions were preserved, loyalty was rewarded, and, perhaps most important, stories were told and reputations were spread. In his final test, the burden of loyalty will rest on other, younger shoulders.
While it would be unwise to make specific links between Beowulf and Christ, there is one parallel that can be seen in the poem; both are aware of their mission to take responsibility for and act with love toward their fellow men and women. His reputation intact, Beowulf prepares to meet Grendel and further enhance his fame.
When the hero returns to Geatland, he continues his loyalty to his uncle and king, Hygelac, risking his life even when the tactics of the ruler are not the best.Themes Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a literary work. The Importance of Establishing Identity.
As Beowulf is essentially a record of heroic deeds, the concept of identity—of which the two principal components are ancestral heritage and individual reputation—is clearly central to the poem.
Discussion of themes and motifs in Anonymous, Unknown's Beowulf. eNotes critical analyses help you gain a deeper understanding of Beowulf so you can excel on your essay or test.
In Beowulf, the major themes reflect the values and the motivations of the characters. One of the central themes of Beowulf, embodied by its title character, is loyalty.
At every step of his career, loyalty is Beowulf's guiding virtue. (Click the themes infographic to download.) Strength is a constant obsession of the world of warriors and demons in Beowulf. Warriors are willing to go to extreme lengths to find opportunities for. LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Beowulf, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Family and Tribe In Beowulf (and in the medieval Germanic culture that produced Beowulf), family and tribal allegiances determine one's identity. In many ways, Beowulf is the simplest kind of epic there is. It's about the conflict between a courageous, mighty, loyal warrior and the demons and dragons of hell itself.
The forces of good battle the forces of evil again and again, knowing that one day they will be defeated, but at least they'll.Download