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What universal theme does Beowulf reveal?

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arnavs | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 10, 2012 at 12:09 AM via web

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What universal theme does Beowulf reveal?

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

Posted July 11, 2013 at 12:06 AM (Answer #1)

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Many different themes exist within Beowulf, and one could argue that any one of them acts as the most important or universal theme. (The basic definition of a universal theme is a theme which is shared between numerous stories, yet the stories are completely independent of one another.)

The main themes of Beowulf are fortitude/wisdom, glory/treasure, fate/providence, loyalty/vengeance, and good over evil/good verses evil. These themes stated, the most universal is good verses evil.

Throughout the text, Beowulf (representing good) battles against evil (represented by Grendel, Grendel's mother, and the dragon). Beowulf (supported by God and aligned with light) fights against the forces of evil (God-haters and figures of darkness). Given that Beowulf always finds success in his battles against evil, the theme of good over evil is readily evident throughout the text.


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