Beowulf
Anonymous Anglo-Saxon poet

by contributor

Karim Chandra

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Motifs
Motifs are devices or structures that are used by artists or authors to help in the development of a theme.
Monsters
Monster was a word used to refer to congenital disabilities in the medieval Christian culture. The people understood congenital disabilities as a bad omen. In keeping the idea of bad omen, the monster Beowulf struggles to fight help to shape the plot of the Old English poem. The monster also represents a foreign thing present in the society and must be eliminated for people to live in harmony. All the monsters are outsiders who are existing past the human realms frontier. Grendel and his mother who is believed to be a descendant of Cain cause a lot of destruction in Heorot. The dragon who is a symbol of sin cause a lot of disorder in the land. Beowulf had no choice but to kill all the monsters for peace and order to reign.
Oral Tradition
Oral tradition helped to preserve lesson and past lineages. Oral tradition was also crucial in the book as it assisted in establishing the theme of reputation. In a society or culture that has little contact with writing, people can only learn about others and make their own stories known through spoken word. Beowulf story itself was passed on from one generation to the other for many years before it was put to writing. Emphasis on word of mouth communication explains the extensiveness of poet’s tales, for instance, the Breca’s story. The story itself also impart to oral celebration tradition of heroes for example.
The Mead-Hall
The poem has two illustrations of mead-halls. One of them is Hygelac’s hall that is located in Geatland. The second is the great hall of Hrothgar, which is located in Denmark. Both halls are important as they act as cultural institutions for the people. They also provide warmth, light, food, entertainment, and singing. The mead-halls also have an important historical significance. They provide some level of haven to people. Therefore, warriors coming from battle can find a safe place to return to. They, therefore, find a place where they get refuge, within a dangerous and unconducive world. The mead-hall is also a place where communities get to preserve their traditions. They are also places where people are rewarded for their loyalty. They also act as places where people tell stories of their success and get to uphold their reputations.
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