How does the archetype of the Anglo-Saxon period compare to the archetype of modern times?

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ecofan74 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Beowulf and the Norse sagas clearly and carefully outline what constitutes the archetype for the Anglo-Saxon period.  Anglo-Saxons, closely related to the Vikings of Scandinavia, shared a great deal in common with them, particularly in terms of those characteristics most favored in their society.  First and foremost, bravery and honor were the most highly-coveted commodities in the Anglo-Saxon world.  The warrior code demanded bravery, honor, loyalty, and justice above all; if warriors did not demonstrate their worth in battle and did not uphold the oaths they pledged, they would be denied entrance into Valhalla.  One's value is placed primarily on these characteristics and the degree to which one possesses them.  Beowulf, for this reason, embodies the Anglo-Saxon archetype; he demonstrates his bravery on numerous occasions and his actions are honorable and just to those he meets, regardless of whether they are his men or it is the monster Grendel.

The primary difference between the Anglo-Saxon archetype and the archetype of modern times stems from the fundamentally different nature of the two societies; the society of modern times is not a warrior society.  Both archetypes in modern times and in the Anglo-Saxon period praise justice and honor as virtues.  It is highly praiseworthy for one to treat others equitably, to keep his/her word, and demonstrate loyalty to his/her friends and family.  This being said, bravery, like honor, loyalty, and justice, does not automatically connect with physical fighting; it generally takes the form of persistence in the face of adversity - mental toughness can be perceived as bravery.

In both periods, consistency in all aspects is prized.  Justice, honor, bravery, and loyalty know no exception for the archetypes of the Anglo-Saxon period and modern times.

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