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What Anglo-Saxon beliefs are present in Beowulf?

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janeschool | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 21, 2013 at 12:03 AM via iOS

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What Anglo-Saxon beliefs are present in Beowulf?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted July 10, 2013 at 7:27 PM (Answer #1)

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Beowulf illuminates many different Anglo-Saxon beliefs. First and foremost, to consider one a hero, he or she must posses the characteristics any given society holds up as most important and honorable. Therefore, one can begin my looking at Beowulf himself as the most prominent example of Anglo-Saxon belief. Beowulf possessed bravery, loyalty, honor, and spoke in an elevated language. 

The Anglo-Saxons looked upon loyalty as a very important characteristic. Given that many warriors traveled from far from their homelands, their kings expected them to be loyal regardless of where they were. Therefore, loyalty was believed to be a very important belief in the Anglo-Saxon culture. Beowulf illustrates his loyalty to his own king, Hygelac. Even though he has been promised a life of wealth in the Danelands, Beowulf returns home after fulfilling his promise of helping Hrothgar.

The Anglo-Saxons highly appreciated craftsmanship. As seen in the text, Beowulf and his men possessed the finest weapons and battle attire. These armors ad weapons were so well built, no man questioned the nobility of Beowulf and his men. For example, as Beowulf landed upon the Danelands, the first thing the scout notices is the weapons and armor of Beowulf and his men.

Women in Anglo-Saxon society were expected to act in a very particular way. Wealtheow's offering of the cup and welcoming of Beowulf and his men shows her possession of the typical characteristics and behavior of the Anglo-Saxon woman.


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