Nick Paine 3/11/13 Beowulf Literary Analysis In the poem Beowulf, the issue of whether or not this particular period is more barbaric or is more civilized. The author of Beowulf is trying to present a certain message in the poem. The message that can be pulled from Beowulf is that even within a society of thought to be malicious and barbaric, there is still room for it to be civilized. When you think of Vikings you don’t necessarily think of a civilized society.
In Beowulf, the society of that particular era and people is thought to be fighting, dangerous and overall barbaric. This assumption is not completely because in the poem, the are big into fighting and most importantly there are monstrous creatures running amok, reeking havoc. With the monsters of Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the dragon existing, it makes the society seem that much more horrid and barbaric. In the poem it describes Grendel by saying “He was spawned in that slime of Cain, murderous creatures banished by God, punished forever for the crime of Abel’s death. (35 l. 105-108 ). This just goes to show how elements like this can cause someone to believe this time period is more barbaric. However, after a closer evaluation of the poem you are able to see that this society is not as barbaric as it originally seems. Two examples of something that shows how this society can be considered civilized are the mead hall, and the armor worn by the people. In the poem it refers to the mead hall as the “Gold shining hall” (40, l. 239), this quote emphasizes the importance and pride they take in the mead hall.
The mead hall is decorated with vast quantities of gold and it represents the respect it gets from the society. The armor is also regarded in the text when it says “Helmeted, the silvery metal of his mail shirt gleaming with a smith’s high art”(37, l. 139-140). This quote shows, once again, shows the pride of these people, this time in their armor. So, what you can conclude from this is that they can’t be so barbaric if they are taking the time and putting in the effort into these things.
Their pride symbolizes how civilized the society actually was. Before analyzing the poem one may look at this society as being barbaric simply because of the monsters and what they know about Viking warriors. Yet, after further evaluation of the text you are able to find the messages the author has left, giving the idea that maybe the society is not so barbaric after all. Altogether, in the end it is safe to say the author has left a lesson saying not all things that are barbaric can’t be civilized.
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