Theme of Beowulf
The Anglo-Saxons were the members of the Germanic peoples who invaded England, and were there at the time of the Norman Conquest. They were people of their own time, language and culture. In the Anglo-Saxon adventure filled tale of Beowulf, the heron Beowulf was, at the time, considered the modern day superman. His character exemplifies the Germanic hero, and consequently the Anglo-Saxon ideal: strong, fearless, bold, loyal, and stoic in his acceptance of fate. With the absence of humility, yet his important role in society and his ideals of chivalry, Beowulf was the definition of a hero in his own time. This novel develops the theme that with honor towards chivalry and faith in yourself, anything can be accomplished.
To be a hero in the Anglo-Saxon period, you proved yourself by doing good deeds,showing honor and exemplifying bravery. But with all of his amazing characteristics, Beowulf had a hard time proving humility. “you’re Beowulf, are you – the same boastful fool who fought a swimming match with Brecca, both of you daring and young and proud, exploring the deepest seas, risking your lives for no reason but the danger? All older and wiser heads warned you not to, but no one could check such pride.”(p.39, Beowulf). This quote best describes Beowulf as a child, full of pride and not that good at hiding it. “I fought that beast’s last battle, left it floating lifeless in the sea.” (p.40 Beowulf). Another quote that showed that in his older age, he had no problem expressing how good he was. A Knight , a hero in the near future, was not one to be as outspoken of his capabilities as Beowulf, even though they did both have the same roles in society and honor towards chivalry. Two qualities that did make Beowulf look a lot more heroic, unlike his absence of humility.
Beowulf’s role in society was almost identical to that of a Knight. Only, unlike the Knight, Beowulf made the choice to have this role in society. He was considered the strongest warrior around. He could fight anything, and would easily fight for his King and country. When King Hrothgar had trouble in his battle hall Herot, he asked for Beowulf’s assistance. With honor and pride, Beowulf gladly accepted the Kings plea for help. Many believed he did so because it was considered his role in society. Either way, he fought off the two beasts, Grendle and his mother, and saved Herot. Beowulf Knew of his power and strengths and probably considered this to be his role in society, to serve and to protect his country and those in need. This honor gives a good example of Beowulf’s heroism.
With any quality of Beowulf, chivalry was probably his most recognizable. If anything , Beowulf had the up most respect for his King. He loved him and honored him with all of his heart. If asked to do anything by the King, Beowulf would accept with pride. When the King died, it was Beowulf that was asked to take over. But with Beowulf’s chivalry, he declined because the King’s son was the rightful heir. With time, Beowulf did become King, but with his honor towards chivalry, he was looked up to by all of his people. Most people would have easily accepted the throne if asked, but Beowulf was strong with his belief towards chivalry. Even if Beowulf did not have humility, his role in society and honor towards chivalry expressed his beliefs and proved his heroism.
The theme, with honor towards chivalry and faith in yourself, anything can be accomplished, is developed in this novel. The Anglo-Saxon ideals of being strong, fearless, bold and loyal were exactly the qualities that Beowulf carried with him. The ideals of heroism vary differently from generation to generation. But with humility, roles in society, and chivalry, you are bound to have similarities with other heroes. With Beowulf, his honor and pride made him a hero of his own time.