Is there anything in common with the characters' thinking in the epic poem Beowulf?

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shake99 | Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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Almost all of the characters in the epic poem Beowulf are warriors. As such, they are an integral part of the Anglo-Saxon warrior culture that pervaded England from the early fifth-century AD until the Middle Ages.

The characters in the poem, like the Anglo-Saxon warriors, observed a system of behavior called the Heroic Code. This code dictated the appropriate behavior for warriors, and included the ideas that warriors must seek revenge and fight to the death for their lord (tribal chieftain). 

In the poem Beowulf, the characters think alike in that they all observe this code almost without fail, until just near the end of the story. Their thinking lines up with the heroic code as they show a willingness to die for Hrothgar and Beowulf and to follow them into battle without question.

This changes at the end of the poem when Beowulf fights his final, and fatal, battle alone. When all of his men should have fought by his side, only the faithful Wiglaf helps him defeat the dragon. Perhaps the poet, by including this break in the Heroic Code, wanted to show that this age had become a thing of the past. 

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