An analysis of the themes in beowulf

Family and Tribe Themes and Colors LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Beowulf, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work. Family and Tribe In Beowulf and in the medieval Germanic culture that produced Beowulffamily and tribal allegiances determine one's identity. Characters are constantly identified as the son, wife, or daughter of a particular man, and as members of this or that tribe. Men or beings without tribes—such as Grendel and Heremod—are described as lonely and joyless.

An analysis of the themes in beowulf

In Beowulf, the major themes reflect the values and the motivations of the characters. One of the central themes of Beowulf, embodied by its title character, is loyalty.

At every step of his career, loyalty is Beowulf's guiding virtue. Beowulf comes to the assistance of the Danes Scyldings for complicated reasons. Certainly he is interested in increasing his reputation and gaining honor and payment for his own king back in Geatland.

However, we soon learn that a major motivation is a family debt that Beowulf owes to Hrothgar. The young Geat is devoted to the old king because Hrothgar came to the assistance of Beowulf's father, Ecgtheow, years before.

Now deceased, Ecgtheow had killed a leader of another tribe in a blood feud. When the tribe sought vengeance, Hrothgar, then a young king, sheltered Beowulf's father and settled the feud by paying tribute wergild in the form of "fine old treasures" to Ecgtheow's enemies.

An analysis of the themes in beowulf even remembers Beowulf as a child. The tie between the families goes back many years, and Beowulf is proud to be able to lend his loyal services to Hrothgar.

When the hero returns to Geatland, he continues his loyalty to his uncle and king, Hygelac, risking his life even when the tactics of the ruler are not the best. After Hygelac is killed in an ill-advised raid on Frisia, Beowulf makes a heroic escape ff.

Beowulf could become king then but is more loyal than ambitious.

An analysis of the themes in beowulf

Queen Hygd offers Beowulf the throne after her husband dies, thinking that her young son Heardred is unable to protect the kingdom; Beowulf refuses and serves the young king faithfully.

After Heardred is killed, Beowulf does become king and rules with honor and fidelity to his office and his people for 50 years. In his final test, the burden of loyalty will rest on other, younger shoulders.

Preparing for his last battle, with the fiery dragon, Beowulf puts his trust in 11 of his finest men, retainers who have vowed to fight to the death for him. Although the now elderly king insists on taking on the dragon alone, he brings along the 11 in case he needs them.

When it is apparent that Beowulf is losing the battle to the dragon, however, all but one of his men run and hide in the woods. Only Wiglaf, an inexperienced thane who has great respect for his king, remains loyal.

Wiglaf calls to the others in vain. Realizing that they will be no help and that his king is about to be killed, he stands beside the old man to fight to the death — theirs or the dragon's.

For Beowulf, sadly, it is the end. Although he and Wiglaf kill the dragon, the king dies. As he dies, Beowulf passes the kingdom on to the brave and loyal Wiglaf. Reputation Another motivating factor for Beowulf — and a central theme in the epic — is reputation.

After Beowulf defeats Grendel’s mother, how long does he rule over the Geats?

From the beginning, Beowulf is rightly concerned about how the rest of the world will see him. He introduces himself to the Scyldings by citing achievements that gained honor for him and his king. When a drunken Unferth verbally assaults Beowulf at the first banquet, at issue is the hero's reputation.

Unferth's slur is the worst kind of insult for Beowulf because his reputation is his most valuable possession. Reputation is also the single quality that endures after death, his one key to immortality.

That's why Beowulf later leaves the gold in the cave beneath the mere, after defeating the mother, preferring to return with Grendel's head and the magic sword's hilt rather than treasure. He has and continues to amass treasures; his intent now is in building his fame.

Unferth's slur accuses Beowulf of foolishly engaging in a seven-day swimming contest on the open sea, as a youth, and losing.Literature Guides - Themes of Beowulf. Loyalty. Beowulf celebrates a warrior culture.

For this reason, loyalty is of paramount importance. One of the central points, which demonstrates this, is the conflict between Beowulf and Unferth. Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a literary work. The Importance of Establishing Identity As Beowulf is essentially a record of heroic deeds, the concept of identity—of which the two principal components are ancestral heritage and .

Old English Style. Beowulf is the longest poem written in Old English. Old English poetry uses alliterative meter, meaning that the stressed words in a line begin with the same sound.

A line of Old English poetry has two halves, with a brief pause, called a caesura, in the middle of the line. The Beowulf theme is one of the most popular assignments among students' documents.

An analysis of the themes in beowulf

If you are stuck with writing or missing ideas, scroll down and find inspiration in the best samples. Beowulf theme is quite a rare and popular topic for writing an essay, but it certainly is in our database. Discussion of themes and motifs in Anonymous, Unknown's Beowulf.

eNotes critical analyses help you gain a deeper understanding of Beowulf so you can excel on your essay or test. In Beowulf, the major themes reflect the values and the motivations of the characters. One of the central themes of Beowulf, embodied by its title character, is loyalty.

At every step of his career, loyalty is Beowulf's guiding virtue.

SparkNotes: Beowulf: Motifs