Madeline LaneENGL 2543, CRN 2748524 January 2018Thought Paper #1Beowulf: The Heroic Believer “Wise sir, do not grieve. It is always better to avenge dear ones than to indulge in mourning. For every one of us, living in this world means waiting for our end. Let whoever can win glory before death. When a warrior is gone, that will be his best and only bulwark.” (Lines 1384-1389) This beautifully compressed statement of the heroic code uttered by the hero, Beowulf, after Grendel’s mother kills Aeschere, who is Hrothgar’s trusted advisor. Hrothgar is under immense grief, which, is understandable considering the principle of loyalty that the society runs under. In, this line Beowulf speaks of his mourning as an “indulgence”- which is unsuitable and futile way to respond to a death of a comrade. The reminder by Beowulf to Hrothgar that vengeance is the real warrior’s retort and is the truest sign of loyalty. It also reflects an essential value of the warrior code, specifically a hostile approach to life. Part of this method involves the understanding that only status will prolong a warrior’s presence after death. Beowulf, for example, perceives life as a race to glory “let whoever can win glory before death”. His speech does a good job of encapsulating the tension of the poem’s tension between doom and death, on one side, and the necessity of conducting yourself courageously and morally, on the other. His emphasis on action helps lesser the cynicism surrounding the inevitability of death that douses the poem. Beowulf, as a hero, was willing to do many things; risking his life for the greater good, faced danger, and didn’t run away in the face of hardship. He peruses the peril until he surmounts it.   “O flower of warriors, beware of that trap. Choose, dear Beowulf, the better part, eternal rewards. Do not give way to pride. For a brief while your strength is in bloom but it fades quickly; and soon there will follow illness or the sword to lay you low, or a sudden fire or surge of water or jabbing blade or javelin from the air or repellent age. Your piercing eye will dim and darken; and death will arrive, dear warrior, to sweep you away” (lines 1758-68). This passage is an extremely long speech in which Hrothgar warns Beowulf of the perils of success after he defeats Grendel’s mother. The speech is one of the many points in the poem where the poet overlays Christian morals onto the pagan world depicted in the poem. The idea under consideration within the poem is not to “give way to pride” which encompasses the Christian maxim pride goeth before a fall.  This admonition seems discordant with the heroic code that the previous set of lines shows. Hrothgar also, emphasizes that life is fleeting and that he should angle himself in the direction of “eternal rewards” which is a supremely Christian ideal- rather than worldly success, which contradicts the rest of the poem, which makes it seem that eternal rewards are won through worldly success. Hrothgar also, expresses the transient quality of human life, calling Beowulf the “flower of warriors” that employs an image that does not conjure his strength and fortitude but highlights the fragility of his life and fact that his “bloom” (youth)- will “fade quickly”. This choice of imagery encapsulates the ideas that are contained within the passage, that there are two deaths that threaten the warrior, and he must be prepared not only for a “jabbing blade or javelin from the air or repellant age” the former will wound him, but the other will take away his youthful audacity and force him to think in terms of honor, nobility, and leadership that aren’t reliant on mere physical ability.

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