What values are implied in lines 691-696? What message do the lines convey about these values?
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In the Longman Anthology of British Literature (Fourth Edition), Lines 691-696 of Beowulf read as follows:
Not one of them thought he would thence be departing
ever to set eyes on his own country,
the home that nourished him, or its noble people;
for they had heard how many men of the Danes
death had dragged from the drinking hall.
To paraphrase these lines in simple language, the Geats (Beowulf's men) believed that once they entered the mead-hall to wait for Grendel to appear, they would never leave it again because they had heard of all of the Danish men (also known as the Scyldings) who had lost their lives to Grendel.
The values that are present in these lines are conveyed through the way in which their land is described. By calling their homeland "the home that nourished him," and their fellow Geats "its noble people," it places their native land upon a pedestal. Therefore, the values illustrated here are the love and loyalty to one's native land above all else.
There are many different ways in which these lines can be read to glean the message that is sent by the portrayal of these values. The "message" depends very heavily on how a given reader interprets it. For example, it can be inferred that because these lines do not make any mention of the warriors' individual mates or families, the "noble people" of the "land that nourished them" are so deeply important that they are, in effect, the warriors' family. This is, however, only one way of interpreting these lines. Again, these lines may mean something different to any given reader, and it is important to learn to think critically about works and interpret them the way that you, the reader, see fit. To aid with this, I am attaching a link to our Beowulf reference page, which has a wealth of information that may aid in the reading and interpretation of this work.
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