In Beowulf, what is the purpose of the eloquence that linked words and acts?  

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the timeless epic of Beowulf, the eloquence of the language used reinforces the hero's accomplishments.

The grandeur of the words used by this anonymous author create a mood of strength and heroism, making Beowulf and his actions larger than life. In listening to the descriptions of battles before, the history of the Geats and Danes, Beowulf's accomplishments, his honor to his feudal lord, and even his refusal to take up a sword against the monster—when the monster chooses to come unarmed—provide a theatrical presentation of the story.

It is also important to remember that this story for many years was handed down in the oral tradition: this means it was not written down for many years, but passed by word-of-mouth. It would have been told countless times by bards (storytellers) who would have had no vehicle in providing an appreciation of the story other than the words used: there were no movies, DVD's, graphic novels or even books. The magic woven around Beowulf's great feats rested upon the dramatic expression of the storyteller. (It also had a great deal to do with how the bard was rewarded for the telling of his story.)

The story is an epic (very long) poem, told by using kennings. A kenning is an Anglo-Saxon metaphor, and was created for an older language that had its limitations—descriptions were not as rich as they are today. A kenning was a "metaphorical description." For example, instead of staying "ocean" repeatedly, "whale's home" would be used and mean the same thing, but be much more poetic. The word "ship" might become "sea bark." The sounds of the words used, as well as the manner in which they were presented, would have added to the richness of this very old tale, and made it a favorite tale told in mead halls and around fires for countless years.