Beowulf Questions and Answers

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What is the purpose of Beowulf?  Not today, but for the Anglo-Saxon people.

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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So much is unknown about the origins, authorship, and overall purpose of Beowulf that there are no really definitive answers to this question. Nevertheless, we can still offer suggestions of varying degrees of plausibility. As a previous educator has noted, scops, or itinerant poets, would travel around the country reciting the poem at various social gatherings. The primary purpose of Beowulf, as with all such epic poems, would have been to entertain.

Yet there was also a didactic purpose involved, a desire to teach and to instruct. At the same time as being regally entertained, Beowulf's audience was being taught what it meant to be a warrior, to be a loyal and faithful servant to one's lord and master, to show heroism and courage in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. The character of Beowulf stood as a shining example of how a man, especially a nobleman, should conduct himself—an ideal to which every red-blooded Anglo-Saxon male should aspire.

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Mike Walter eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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When Beowulf was first transcribed into...

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Lorna Stowers eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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