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Little Words, Big Ideas
Good vs. Evil
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...
Nearly all the characters in Beowulf – in fact, we're willing to say that all of them – are concerned about establishing their own identities. Sometimes this literally means explaining...
Strength and Skill
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 displaying their physical might, from pointl...
Beowulf depicts the warrior culture of medieval Scandinavia and England, which relied heavily on the giving and receiving of gold, armor, weapons, coins, jewels, jewelry, and other treasures. Every...
Religion is a touchy issue in Beowulf, because the story is told in late medieval Anglo-Saxon Britain, which has been Christianized, but it's about early medieval Scandinavia, which is pagan. The n...
Violence is a way of life in the Scandinavian warrior culture of Beowulf. When your hero's goal is to kill a local demon who's been attacking people and carrying off corpses by the dozen, you're go...
Courage is the foundation of the warrior culture that underlies the story of Beowulf. In this epic, a true warrior's bravery comes from a completely fatalistic attitude toward life and indifference...
Hardly a line passes by in Beowulf without the narrator reminding us that everyone is going to die eventually. It's really a very morbid poem, in fact. The awareness of death is a constant for medi...
The supernatural is definitely present in Beowulf, but it's oddly complicated. First, we have the two demons, Grendel and his mother, and the other assorted monsters of the epic – the dragon...
Tradition and Customs
Beowulf is all about tradition and principle, but not the kind we have today in 21st century America. We're talking about the kind of principles that held together a savage tribe of warriors in med...
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