Beowulf's Corruption

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In an age that lacked plentiful methods and sources of education, scops were the only teachers and verbally sung poems were the only textbooks of the society. Thus, Beowulf, the oldest surviving epic poem of the Anglo-Saxons, is a valuable resource to aid us in having an insight into the life and beliefs of these early inhabitants of Britain. It can be noted from these poems that the Anglo-Saxon culture was that of warriors, and physical strength and courage to defend the society from numerous invaders were most treasured values. Beowulf, the protagonist of the epic, seems to represent every aspect of a hero the Anglo-Saxons admired. He is courageous, has seemingly superhuman powers, and is of noble blood, later becoming a leader himself. As a novice warrior he comes to the aid of Heorot, despite his little relation with the troubled kingdom, and with his indomitable strength Beowulf achieves a deed that many other great warriors failed to: he defeats the Grendel, the monster that has long taunted Heorot. Following this battle are kudos and material gratitude from the king, admiration from others, and glory that will last even after his passing. However, behind the depiction as an ideal hero figure, Beowulf begins to decline. He is now adulterated by the glory and material wealth of earth that he has lost the strength of his purity, a power that can only come when he fights only with his bare hands and without the protection of metal. Beowulf fights two more battles after his first victory: a battle with Beowulf’s mother, then a battle with the dragon that terrorizes his own kingdom. The two other battles that follow later in Beowulf’s life becomes increasingly difficult, ultimately leading to his death; this process is an indication of Beowulf’s corruption as he indulges in the earthly goods along with the glory following his deeds. By the end of the poem, Beowulf

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