Hat Does It Mean To Be Good In The World Described In Beowulf? (Essay Sample)
In this assignment, you address the importance of individual virtue and its relationship to the community as reflected in Beowulf.
Resources: The Norton Anthology of English Literature (pp. 3–25 and 36–108); the article by Tolkien (1936); and the video “Early English Aloud and Alive: The Language of Beowulf, Chaucer, and Shakespeare” (n.d.) located in the Week One Electronic Reserve Readings
Virtue and Community in Beowulf Paper
Write a 1,400- to 1,750-word paper on virtue and community in Beowulf. Your paper must contain specific answers to the following questions:
• What does it mean to be good in the world described in Beowulf?
• What is the relationship between individual prowess or ability and ethical virtue in Beowulf?
• In the poem, what does it mean to be a member of the community? How is this meaning communicated?
• What is the role of the monster in defining virtue and community?
• What role does language play, and specifically the formal structures of poetry, in defining and communicating these concepts? Reflect on the process of storytelling, the role of the poet, and on communicating these complex concepts in language.
**I have attached the grading criteria as well. Please reach out if you have questions. Thanks Mike!
The Cross of Masculinity
The topic of masculinity is one that is often debated nowadays. The majority of people in the discussion of masculinity seem not to understand what masculinity is. With the rise of feminism and the attack on any form of masculinity, people are not sure the values that are associated with masculinity. The phrase toxic masculinity has been used often to discredit individuals who showcase any ounce of what they take to be masculinity. The understanding of masculinity is not shared and people today practice what they see or saw from their fathers or what the internet portrays as being masculine. In contemporary American society, there are different discussions and understandings of masculinity. Everyone seems to hold their own definition of masculinity and there is no single or universal definition of masculinity. However, in Beowulf, there appears to be a universal understanding of what masculinity entails. All men knew what is expected of them and their position in society. In contemporary American society, this has changed and people assume the masculinity seen in their fathers and in other people they adore. In this explication, the portrayal of masculinity in Beowulf is juxtaposed to masculinity in contemporary American society and the benefits, as well as the costs of each, are discussed.
In Beowulf, one value that is said to be masculine is bravery. A man has to be brave to fit within the discussion of masculinity. Beowulf is a man who can face anything that comes his way. All adversity seems to be crumbling before him as he battles to protect his people from monsters like Grendel. In one instance, he denounces the use of weapons as he heads to fight. For someone going to fight a war, this could be seen as being stupid. But Beowulf was brave and he wanted to face the monsters on what he considered fair terms.
I have heard moreover that the monster scorns
In his reckless way to use weapons
therefore, to heighten Hygelac’s fame
and gladden his heart, I hereby renounce
sword and the shelter of the broad shield,
the heavy war-board: hand-to-hand
is how it will be, a life-and-death
fight with the fiend
The words spoken above were an indication of the kind of man Beowulf was as well as the masculine nature he adopted. He was brave and wanted to showcase his bravery in everything he did. Facing the monsters in a hand-to-hand battle for any man would be their inevitable end. But this was Beowulf, the bravest of all men.
Masculinity is also associated with strength and Beowulf was indeed strong. In fighting the monsters, Beowulf not only exhibited his bravery but also his strength. At one time, the monster had overpowered some men and came for Beowulf. However, as soon as it tried to attack him, Beowulf reacted in strength and as indicated in the excerpt below, he managed to avoid the same fate as the other men. Having faced and mostly defeated all men that tried to face it, Grendel was not expectant of the show of strength Beowulf bestowed. Beowulf was not the normal kind: he was skilled in battle and stronger than any man.
The captain of evil discovered himself
in a handgrip harder than anything
he had ever encountered in any man
on the face of the earth.
Every bone in his body quailed and recoiled, but he could not escape.
He was desperate to flee to his den and hide
with the devils litter, for in all his days
he had never been clamped or cornered like this.
Beowulf was indeed strong. The monster admitted having never felt that kind of strength from any man before. This was a show ...
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