Beowulf
Anonymous Anglo-Saxon poet
Contributed by Karim Chandra

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Summary

As the story depicted in the poem progresses, King Hrothgar grows very powerful. He has also obtained a lot of favor from his subjects as a result of the strong leadership skills that he happens to put into action. He rewards his accomplishments by commissioning a lavish “mead-hall.” He christens it “Hall of the Hart.” He does so to symbolize the vast wealth that he has. It also helps to show the great level of success that he has as a leader. 

Analysis

The building of the Heorot Hall is important as it helps to show the role and position of kings within Denmark. It is a requirement within the country for all kings to have a hall to which they will take refuge after long bouts of war. It is also a place where the king holds gatherings with his warriors and thanes. The hall also marks as a sign of security, not only to the king but also the subjects. They look at it as a strong power, from which they derive the strength they have. It also acts as a mark of prosperity for the community. The banquets hosted by Hrothgar also help to strengthen some of the themes portrayed in the poem. The theme of hospitality is well explained in such banquets. Heorot also shows that Hrothgar has a lot of power and full of pride of the achievements that he has had, over the years.

From the section, it also portrays a trend that is explainable in all great stories. It is based on the concept of conflict. The continuous prosperity of King Hrothgar leads to the audience wondering when his fall will come. As would be expected, the story enters a dark moment when Grendel comes into the picture. Grendel is a large and violent creature. It is a symbol of evil and, thereby, poses a high level of threat to Hrothgar as well as his kingdom. Hrothgar has no power over Grendel. All the warriors of Hrothgar desert Heorot Hall when they determine that they are not able to fight against the monster. They fear that they will be its next victims and are, therefore, not willing to be willing to engage with it. The pagan rituals which Hroghgar’s advisers suggest also act as a signal of the conflict that exists between the different religious beliefs. The poet shows that Hrothgar does not have information about the Lord Almighty. The audience is, therefore, left wondering if that is the theme of the poem. It could be a show that the pagan practices that Hrothgar engages in lead him into trouble, but not out of trouble.

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