Anglo Saxon Societal Values Present In Beowulf

754 words - 4 pages

Mahatma Gandhi, an Indian nationalist, once remarked, “A nation's culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people” (brainyquote.com). In literature and poetry, a culture’s societal values and principles are commonly exemplified. Readers can understand the cultural beliefs of a society from carefully reading its literary pieces. The poem Beowulf embodies societal ideals and attitudes of Anglo-Saxon culture. The Medieval epic poem Beowulf, translated by Seamus Heaney, typifies Anglo-Saxon values such as oral-storytelling, heroic behavior, and loyalty.

Several examples of the value of storytelling are apparent in Beowulf.. Storytelling in the mead halls is the primary form ...view middle of the document...

Beowulf responds that he is, in fact, “the strongest swimmer of all” because he encounters and defeats nine sea monsters while Breca does not come across anything. (Heaney 37-39). Beowulf is able to rebuke Unferth’s claim which shows Beowulf has honor, or the ability to back up his claims. Also, Beowulf exhibits an incredible strength and skill in battle. For instance, Beowulf’s strength is legendary. Upon Beowulf’s arrival in Herot he meets Hrothgar who approves of his arrival. Hrothgar replies that Beowulf is a great man “with the strength of thirty in the grip of each hand” (Heaney 27). Beowulf’s superhuman strength that he uses in acts of heroism and courage reveal that he is in fact a great hero. Heroic attributes were important in Anglo-Saxon society.

Another important aspect of Anglo-Saxon values is loyalty. An attribute of faithfulness present in Beowulf is loyalty to the chieftain. Upon Beowulf and his men’s arrival in Herot, a coast guard inquires as to why Beowulf and his men are there. After he explains his business, which is to defeat Grendel, the coast-guard allows their passage as Beowulf's declaration of himself and his intentions are a convincing...

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