Authors often use events and things to symbolize stages in someone’s life. Symbolism is the practice of representing things by means of symbols or of attributing meaning of significance to objects, events, or relationships. In Beowulf, Beowulf fights Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and a fire-breathing dragon. In the anonymous epic Beowulf, Beowulf’s battles symbolize the youth, adulthood, and old age of Beowulf’s life. First, the battle with Grendel represents the youth of Beowulf’s life. The typical youth is very brave and fights for fame. Beowulf shows how the battle with Grendel is a representation of the youth of Beowulf’s life by going to Hrothgar and asking him if he can fight Grendel for him and his people. Beowulf shows this trait when he says, “Grant me, then, lord and protector of this noble place, a single request! I have come so far, oh shelter of warriors and your people’s loved friend, that this one favor you should not refuse me. That I, alone and with the help of my men, may purge all evil from this Hell. Second, another trait that a typical youth has is that they don’t want to be outwitted. They also don’t want people to think poorly of them. Beowulf shows this when he hears that Grendel does not use any weapons to fight and so Beowulf says that he will not use any weapons because he wants Higlac to think worthy of him. Beowulf shows this trait when he says, “I have heard, too, that the monster’s scorn of men is so great that he needs no weapons and fears none. Now will I. My lord Higlac might think less of me if I let my sword go where my feet were afraid to, if I hid behind some broad linden shield: my hands alone shall fight for me, struggle for life against the monster.” Third, the typical youth likes to brag about what they have done. Beowulf shows this third trait when he brags to Hrothgar about how he swam all the way over and killed all the monsters in the ocean. This is seen when Beowulf says, “I swam in the Blackness of night, hunting monsters out of the ocean, and killing them one by one; death was my errand and the fate they had earned.” I have shown you how the battle with Grendel represents the youth of Beowulf’s life. First, the battle with Grendel’s mother represents the adult stage of Beowulfs life. As adults get older they are less daring and more defensive. Beowulf shows this trait when he fights mail armor and a sword. This is seen when he goes to the lake where the monsters mother has her underwater lair. Then fully armored, he makes a heroic dive to the depth of the watery Hell. Second, as adults get older they are less daring and wait for the ballte to come to them. Instead of going to Hrothgar and asking to fight for him he waits and lets Hrothgar ask him. This is seen when Beowulf is awakened and called for again. I have shown you how the battle with Grendel s mother represents the adult stage of Beowulf’s life.

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Beowulf Both Shild Shaving and Beowulf were highly honored during their lives. Both were brave warriors, victorious in many Battles. Shild conquered many people, and many lands. For example, “How Shild made slaves of soldiers from every Land, crowds of captives hed beaten into terror” He also became the king of the Danes. He was highly honored, and became very rich in his lifetime. Just as Beowulf had become one of the most famous men during life due to his defeat of Grendel, and Grendels mother. He later also became king of Geatland. He ruled for fifty years, but his time came during a battle against and irate dragon. Beowulf was still very strong in his elderly years. As was Shild Shaving: ” When his time was come the old king died, still strong but called to the lords hands.” Both of there deaths were honored by very large funerals. Shild Shaving was set out to sea on a fighting ship which was brimming with treasures. Beowulf body was burned along with massive amounts of treasure. His funeral pyre was kept kindled for 10 days. Both Shild Shaving and Beowulf were incredibly loved, and respected by their people. Both were very mighty warriors, and capable of tremendous feats. They conquered land and peoples, and they both died very proud deaths. The story Beowulf is focused around the main character, Beowulf. He is a man of awesome, superhuman powers. He is able to battle huge beasts without the aid of weapons. In the story, he sails to Denmark to a meadhall which was named Herot. The story is interesting in that many things are named, especially swords, and armor which are especially honored if they had helped their previous owners in battle. Beowulfs sword was named Hrunting. Herot had been plagued for twelve years by a monster named Grendel. In one night, Beowuld conquers Grendel, and the 12 years of Suffering is over with. Unbeknownst to Beowulf, Grendel has a mother who then seeks revenge for Grendels death. Beowulf then fights an amazing underwater battle against her, and is victorious. He then sales back to his native Geatland, and then becomes king. After about fifty years, a dragon begins to start reeking havoc upon Geatland. Beowulf blames himself for the dragon, and goes to fight it. He dies, but in the process, kills the dragon. Beowulf was written roughly around 800BC. This makes it very interesting because it gives you somewhat of an idea of what life may have been like. In the story, life is centered around meadhalls which are large drinking halls. Here, one can sleep for the night, get a meal, and also drink the sweet alcoholic drink called meade. The meadhall was the center of the village. If you were a stranger, you could try and spend the night there. If you were a warrior, you would sleep there. In Beowulf, the King of Denmark lived in a meadhall named Herot. Another large aspect of life was honor. Honor was dependent upon who your father was. If he had no honor, then neither would you. Lineage was extremely important. For example, when Beowulf and his warriors landed in Denmark, they were approached by a Danish warrior who questioned them about there presence in Denmark. Beowulf told him He was there to fight Grendel, but he also said, “We are Geats, men who follow Higlac. My father was a famous soldier, known far and wide as a leader of men. His name was Edgetho” An interesting aspect of Beowulfs battle against Grendel was that when he fought Grendel, he used no weapons. He only used his bare hands. In the story he grabbed Grendel with a rip so hard it crushed his bones. Grendel was able to escape, but his arm was torn off. Because of this, it is thought that Beowulf may have been a Berserker. A berserker was a type of warrior who would go into battle without any weapons, just sheer strength, and they would squeeze their opponents to death. Literally bear-hug them until they died. There is a term called lofgeornost. It means fame after death. This was also a very important thing in the story. It was what many men strove for. It would help to carry on the honor of a family. If someone had a father who had become very famous in his lifetime for heroic deeds, then that mans family would be bound to be respected. It also the same with the weapons in the story. If they had helped there owners in battle, then they would become very valuable, and prized possessions. For example, after Beowulf had conquered Grendel, and was about to dive into the lake after Grendels mother, Unferth gave his noble sword named Hrunting which had been successful in many battles, to Beowulf. My personal view on Beowulf is very positive. It is a wonderful story. Almost like a fairy tale. It is filled with many terrible monsters, and extremely brave warriors. Theres even a dragon in the story. It evokes memories, of my father reading stories to my sister and I before bed every night. Many stories are very similar in form to Beowulf in respect of having a terrible monster, a brave warrior, a happy ending and some moral to the story. Beowulf ending wasnt extremely positive though because of the fact that Beowulf died. He was an old man though, and his time had come. He did though kill the dragon, so it wasnt entirely unhappy. Throughout the story there is the message of how fickle life can be. Beowulf stressed the mutability of life. One minute your up, the other your down. You can never predict what life might throw you, so always be weary. This holds true even today. When the story was written, life was very dangerous. You could easily be killed by the elements, or in battle, or by sickness. Today, one still has to fear illness, and even the elements. For example, there has been a string of hurricanes, and tornadoes, and other natural disasters plaguing the United States. Beowulf message is very clear, and very useful, and should be heeded.

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