Discuss Beowulf as an epic, and what epic features it has. 

Asked on by schakra

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clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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First consider the elements of an epic:

  • long narrative in elevated style
  • main character is a hero who is often on a journey and possesses almost god-like characteristics
  • action in epics often involve a battle or multiple battles
  • presence of supernatural beings (monsters, demons, non-human enemies -usually-)
  • often contain long speeches

Given the above qualities, consider how Beowulf fits:

  • Beowulf is a long narrative first written in Old English - but even translated is certainly written in verse form, with lots of alliteration, caesura, and kennings
  • main character: Beowulf, who possess superhuman qualities
  • Beowulf defeats 3 monsters in huge battles
  • three monsters are all non-human
  • reflective speeches abound in Beowulf - from historic remembrances to honoring kings and kingdoms.

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