Discuss the mortality of Beowulf.I've written about 400 words discussing how Beowulf, by being mortal, becomes immortal in his final battle as he is remembered for his bravery etc. But that's it....

Discuss the mortality of Beowulf.

I've written about 400 words discussing how Beowulf, by being mortal, becomes immortal in his final battle as he is remembered for his bravery etc. But that's it. I'm so stuck for ideas and I need to write another 1100 words on this: Please, please any help would do; it's just my mind's gone blank and for some reason I can't think of any more points. I've searched online, read tons of journals and articles and still I can't seem to think of anything else regarding mortality in Beowulf.

Thanks in advance.

Asked on by mython1c

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

The society in Beowulf, in Hrothgar's kingdom, has Christian and Pagan influences. Beowulf boasts that he doesn't make war with men unless provoked (most of his tales are about battling monsters). And one of these monsters, Grendel, is said to be a descendant of Cain. So, there are Biblical references but these are mostly of the Old Testament. Therefore, although the poet and his audience were most likely to be Christian, the world of Beowulf has an equal or major influence from the warrior society of pagan communities that existed prior to the complete influence of Christianity. 

Therefore, one of the pagan social virtues was loyalty between king and his thanes. This relationship is illustrated with Hrothgar and Beowulf. As each thane protects his king, he is rewarded with treasure, but the relationship takes on a more profound (maybe spiritual) symbolism than just paying a thane (knight) for protecting the kingdom. Beowulf constantly tests fate, knowing his own mortality and the likelihood that he could die. He never makes any reference to a Christian afterlife, so his goal in life is to transcend fate itself. That is, Beowulf thinks that fate is mostly responsible for what will become of a warrior; but a truly courageous warrior can push the envelope and fate will oblige that courage with extended life. So, there is that aspect, that the courageous warrior can influence fate and thereby, influence the length of his life (the length of his own mortality). "Fate often saves an undoomed man when his courage is good." Beowulf says this regarding his swimming match. What he means here is that if fate has not completely doomed him, he can still influence it. He has something to say about his own mortality. Essentially, Beowulf has the relative free will to act courageously and thereby make his life greater and perhaps even longer. 

Also, in the pagan tradition, immortality is to be remembered in the minds of later generations. So, in that pagan tradition, this poem itself is Beowulf's immortality.

Sources:

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