ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Beowulf as an Epic

Updated on May 31, 2020
Humyra Anjum Maliha profile image

I'm a student of English Literature and Linguistic. Without analytical work I love to write poems and short stories.

An epic is a long narrative poem, on a grand scale about the deeds of warriors and heroes. It is a polygonal, 'heroic' story incorporating myth, legend, folk tale and history. Epic are often of national significance in the sense that they embody the history and aspirations of a nation in a lofty manner.

Basically, there are two kind of epic- 1) primary or oral epic which is the spoken form of the poem (these are mainly the old English poem) and 2) secondary or literary epic which is the written form of the poem.

Beowulf is an epic poem because it has the characteristics of an epic poem and they are the followings:

The first and foremost characteristic of epic poem is its large size. For example, the Beowulf is a poem consisting of 3,182 lines which size is bigger than other poems. Though some critics claimed that epic poem must carry more than 10,000 verse lines.

Secondly, singing in feasts. In epic one can find description of a musician which is a common symbol of oral epic. After finishing eating and drinking in a feast the musician is inspired by the happiness of the people to sing about famous men. For example, in Beowulf-

"a traditional singer deeply schooled

in the lore of the past, linked a new theme

to a strict meter." (Beowulf, line- 868-870)

Epic always has a central mighty hero of superman quality or a person of national or international significance. He fight for a nation or for raise his fame. Example can be given of Beowulf who is a young brave warrior. He not only fights with Grendel, the horrible demon, with bare hand but also with his mother under water. Also he slaughter nine sea-monsters. Finally, he fights with a fire-breathing dragon at an old age.

Exaggeration is also an important part of an epic. The poet uses hyperbole to express the power of hero, such as,

"a thane, they declared, with the strength of thirty

in the grip of each hand." (Beowulf, line- 380-381)

According to many critics the superhero character Hulk is the imitation of Beowulf because it is impossible for a living man to have the strength of thirty men.

Supernaturalism is a common feature of every epic. In an epic one can find supernatural element such as, God, demon, angles, etc. In Beowulf the sea-monsters, Grendel and Grendel's mother who are demons are the examples of supernatural elements. Some critics believe that it is the belief of animism.

Another characteristic is the journey by water or sea. For example, in Beowulf, at first the great king of Denmark, Scyld was found by the Danes in a ship with treasure and after his death, his dead body is put in another treasure ship and released it on sea. Secondly, Beowulf along with his kinsmen came to Denmark across the sea. Moreover, there was a story of the swimming competition between Beowulf and Breca on sea during which Beowulf killed 9 sea monsters. Besides, Beowulf fights with Grendel's mother under water. However, according to some critics, this characteristic is so common because during that time people mainly used to journey by sea as there were no vehicles or well-constructed roads.

Cosmic setting is also another important characteristic. Cosmic setting is mainly different places where the action happen. It covers different places rather one place. For example, in Beowulf there are more place without land. Like under water where Grendel, his mother and other monster leave. Also Beowulf fight with Grendel's mother under water. The cave of the dragon with treasure is another hidden place outside the society.

Another characteristic is feasts which is really common in epic. One can find the idea of feast for several time in Beowulf. For example, at first because of the noise of joy in the feast Grendel attacked Heorot. Secondly, after Beowulf's arrival Hrothgar hold a feast for welcoming Beowulf and his kinsmen. Next, after killing Grendel again they hold a feast.

Finally, it can be said that Beowulf is an epic poem because it has the characteristic of an epic poem. But it is an oral epic because of the 2nd characteristic, because singing is a common characteristic in an oral epic.

I really like this epic and it's story about a brave leader Beowulf. I strongly appreciate that a true leader must be like Beowulf.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://corp.maven.io/privacy-policy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)