Essay On Beowulf: Prominent Masterpiece Of Literature

In: Popular topics January 4th, 2017

I suppose every pupil and student have met Beowulf character at least once. Teachers and professors usually mention this poem and sometimes ask their students to write analytical essay on Beowulf. There are a lot of articles, scientific works and researches on this subject. But it is not surprising, because Beowulf is the first known example of Old English literature. Besides, this poem is surrounded by great deal of mystery. For instance, nobody knows exactly who the author of this masterpiece was. In addition, Beowulf manuscript has a rich and quite interesting history. However, the biggest part of school and university reading tasks seem quite boring to students. And Beowulf is not an exception. Many students have no desire to read it, thinking that Beowulf is some kind of worthless, pointless and tedious old poem. Some of them even do not feel like reading a summary. Today we will try to give you the most interesting and intriguing facts and details of this magnificent ancient work of art. Besides, it would be appropriate to reveal the history of the poem and tell about its background. By the way, you can find here analysis of the main characters. We hope that after reading this essay dedicated to Beowulf you will change your opinion about the poem and maybe you will even decide to read it. Anyway, if you have to write an essay on Beowulf or another university paper, you are welcome to contact smartwriters.


Information on Beowulf’s history
It would be a good idea to start our narration with some basic historical facts dedicated to Beowulf poem. Unfortunately, we know very little about its creation. Nobody knows for sure who and when has written it. Nevertheless, some scholars suppose that it was composed in the end of VII or in the beginning of VIII century. It tells us the story which took place in the sixth century in Scandinavia. By the way, it contains both pagan and Christian features. It is also based on Scandinavian legends and beliefs. Reading it we may learn a lot about the lifestyle, customs and traditions of medieval Scandinavians. Scholars think that firstly this story had been passing orally, but then it was written down in the X century. It survives in a medieval manuscript, which is kept today at the British Library in London. There is no date written on the manuscript, so researchers had to calculate its age by special handwriting analysis.  It is also a well-known fact that the first known owner of this manuscript was Laurence Nowell, the famous researcher of old English literature. After his death it passed to the private collection of Sir Robert Cotton. You may also mention in your Beowulf essay that this collection became the part of the British Museum and then it was incorporated to the British Library.  It is also interesting that the manuscript does not contain the name of the poem. It received its contemporary name only after the first publication. It was named after the main character of the poem. By the way, if you want to get more information on Beowulf’s history, you may pay to have a paper written by experts.


The brief summary of Beowulf
It is worth being mentioned that in Beowulf poem we can see both description of real events and fiction elements. It mainly tells about the great Geat warrior Beowulf’s victories over some horrible monsters (Grendel, Grendel’s mother, the Dragon). It takes place in Scandinavia (Denmark, southern Sweden). It begins with the description of Grendel’s attacks on the king Hrothgar’s hall Heorot. Grendel, the troll-like monster, had been terrorizing the local people for 12 winters. That’s why the brave hero Beowulf decided to help Hrothgar and his people. He managed to overcome the monster with bare hands. Then the warrior outdid Grendel’s vindictive mother.
The second part of the poem narrates about the events, which has taken place fifty years after Beowulf’s battle with Grendel. Tell in your Beowulf summary essay that at that time Beowulf became the king of his land and his people. He lost some of his powers, but he remained a courageous warrior. He had to fight with a dragon in order to protect his people from its anger and vengeance. Finally, he beat the dragon, but during the fight Beowulf was mortally wounded. The poem ends with the depicting of the barrow, visible from the sea, which was built to honor the great king. If you want to fill your essay with more details of the Beowulf’s plot, you may use our service in order to create a perfect academic paper.


Grendel and Beowulf – the main confrontation of the ancient work of art
As it was already said Beowulf poem contains both heathen and Christian elements. The main Christian confrontation of this masterpiece is the fight between Grendel and Beowulf. Beowulf acts as the protagonist of the poem. He embodies all the main Christian qualities: wisdom, bravery, respectfulness, etc. On the other hand, Grendel symbolizes evil powers.  It is mentioned in the poem that this monster is Cain’s descendant. He can’t stand people’s joy and laughter. He is angry, violent and merciless.  Therefore you may mention in your Beowulf vs Grendel essay, that it is not surprising that Christian powers personified by Geat hero has beaten evil.


The role of Beowulf in the modern world
Thought Beowulf was composed in the Middle Ages, its plot is still used for creation of modern works of art. University professors and school teachers usually mention contemporary artistic adaptations of Beowulf in order to rouse students’ interest. Among them are cinema and television adaptations, novels, music, theatre and opera and even video games dedicated to Beowulf’s plot. The most popular of them are such films as:

  • Grendel Grendel Grendel (1981);
  • Animated Epics: Beowulf (1998);
  • Beowulf vs Grendel (2005);
  • Grendel (2007);
  • Beowulf (2007);
  • Beowulf: Prince of Geats (2007) and some others.

It is interesting enough that Beowulf story was even included to the plot of the 6th season of Xena: Warrior Princess in 2000. The plot of these films sometimes differs from the original one, but some of them have managed to save the Beowulf’s medieval mysterious atmosphere. It would be also relevant to mention some of the modern artistic adaptations and interpretations on your literature lessons in school, college or university. It will show your awareness and interest in this subject and may bring you an additional excellent mark. By the way, I am convinced that every literature teacher will support an idea to create your own adaptation. For example, you and your groupmates may adopt this poem for stage or write your short Beowulf sequel. However, if you have to write a Beowulf analysis essay, but you do not want to read the whole poem, it could be a great idea to watch some of these movies.
We have done our best to acquaint you with this prominent Anglo-Saxon poem and awake your interest. We hope that now meeting with Old English Literature will be more pleasant and fascinating for you.