Beowulf and its Poets Composition Analysis

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1. Who wrote Beowulf? How does the poet create a distance between the characters and himself? Why does he do this? Do they share the same world?
2. Compare and Contrast Sir Gawain and the Green Knight with Marie de France's Lanval in terms of representations of gender.
3. Do you think courtly love in any way elevated the status of women in the works (3) of Marie de France?
4. Discuss Chaucer's Life and Times. Was he a man of his time -- or more progressive?

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Explanation & Answer

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Analyzing Beowulf and its Poet’s Composition
Thesis statement: This paper analyzes the much-accomplished story of Beowulf and how it fits
in our current reality. The paper extensively debates on the poet’s use of the past tense and
articulates why he must have utilized such a tone. Furthermore, this paper also briefly discusses
the poem.



How did the poet distance himself from the poem?


Origin of the Beowulf Poem


Ashburnham House Fire


Brief analysis of the events of the poem


Debate over modifications


Analysis of Anglo-Saxon poetry


Analyzing the poet’s ideology



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Answering Question 1: Analyzing Beowulf and its Poet’s Composition
Beowulf is known to be one of the oldest English poems surviving today. Yet, it is
impossible to trace out both the name of the author and the date of its composition. Although
literature experts have articulated that Beowulf was written between the 8th and the 11th
centuries in England. Even still, the poem comprises of events that unfolded in the earlier 6th
century. These events are discussed by its author through the use of the past tense. This creates a
sense of distance between the poet and the events that unfolded in Beowulf. Perhaps the poet
wanted to make a well-articulated poem about events of the past. Nonetheless, just the name of
its author, the name of the poem was not known when it was found. Some scholarly poets
decided the name of this poem as Beowulf due to the theme of the poem. Although there is no
evidence of the existence of historical Beowulf, some of the events are rightly stated in the
poem; therefore, the excavators who found the poem named it Beowulf.
Beowulf is considered to be a heroic poem and the highest achievement of Old English
literature. The poet has created a difference between himself and the characters through the use
of the past tense but they share the same world.
Until 1815, the poem was not present in the printed form as it was preserved in the form
of a single manuscript. This singular yet historical manuscript was known as the Beowulf
manuscript (Alama). The manuscript of Beowulf was located at Nowell Codex in a British
library. As mentioned before, the poem did not have any title in its original form and was

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referred to as “Beowulf” by literature experts just because of the name of its protagonist.
Nonetheless, the story of Beowulf has been through a lot over the years. One particular event
was the fire at Ashburnham House in London where the manuscript allegedly caught fire. The
Ashburnham House in London was the place for the old and classical manuscripts. It included
the medieval manuscripts that were collected and assembled by Sir Robert Bruce Cotton.
Regardless of the damages ca...

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