Societys Appointment of Taming Mankind

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Modern society’s main concern is keeping mankind from exercising some of his instinctual desires in order to keep peace and equal opportunity for all individuals. The epic poem Beowulf shows that mankind uses his institutions of society and religion to ward off his bestial nature. This bestial nature is manifested in actions such as murder, theft, and dishonesty. Through the use of symbolism and allusion, the author of Beowulf explains how mankind rejects his instinctual desires in order to proliferate peace and a keep society functioning smoothly. Symbolism has a major function throughout the poem. The most rampant example is Grendel, “a powerful demon” (Beo. line 86). Grendel symbolizes the instincts that mankind rejects in order to establish order. Grendel’s “defiance of right” earns him a warrant for the hero named Beowulf to dispose of him and what he represents (Beo. line 144), and his “one against all” philosophy runs against the grain of the ideals that all civilized society is built upon (Beo. line 145). Even after Grendel is “fatally hurt” when Beowulf tears “the whole of Grendel’s shoulder and arm” off (Beo. line 819, Beo. line 834-835), Beowulf must continue his battle against evil by also defeating the mother of Grendel. This symbolizes the how deep the roots of mankind’s instinctual desires permeate the human condition. Another powerful example of symbolism is manifested in the dragon. The dragon symbolizes the ultimate source of mankind’s instinctual desires. The author of Beowulf states that “when the dragon awoke, trouble flared again” (Beo. line 2287), metaphorically alluding to the social problems that mankind faces when individuals act according to their instinctual desires. Even after Beowulf’s “sword had dispatched [the dragon]” (Beo. line 2772), Beowulf ends up passing away from the wounds he sustained in the battle. The “treasure” that

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