Beowulf and contemporary culture assert their masculinity through physical strength, financial wealth, honor, endurance, prestige and intelligence. In Beowulf’s Society, physical strength was held to mean a man who could defeat anything he would come across, such as a monster like Grendel.
Beowulf establishes his identity as a geat warrior and eventually as a king through a combination of deeds, boasting, and gifts to his followers. The most important task of a great warrior in Beowulf is to establish an identity so great and legendary that his glory lives on in memorials and ballads after his death.
The epic Beowulf illustrates three main roles for women in society: the hostess, the peacemaker and the monster.
Beowulf, an epic poem that describes the heroism of a brave warrior who became a fallen king. He is the masculine example of what was thought of in a man in the Anglo-Saxon era.” …he was the most powerful man in the world, high-born and powerful.” (Page 8) He is strong, loyal and a protector of men.
Identity is an important part of the story, because without it dictating the actions of the characters, the story would be completely different. In the epic poem “Beowulf”, actions, beliefs and values reveal the identity of the characters. The actions of Beowulf and other characters are clear signs of their identity.
The Importance of Establishing Identity
Just as Beowulf is essentially a record of heroic deeds, so is the concept of identity – the two main components of which are ancestral heritage and the individual reputations are clearly central to the poem.
Finally, “Beowulf” is very clear on what he means by the formula for a man. He should be brave, self-sufficient, and powerful (he should also be able to hold his breath/breathe underwater for insanely long periods and have a nasty habit of breaking swords with his irrepressible machismo).
How does the role of women in Anglo-Saxon society compare to today? Anglo-Saxon women had similar power; they retained control of their property after marriage.
In this poem, Beowulf clashes with Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the dragon ravaging his community; Within each battle, Beowulf has a subtle character transformation that eventually leads him to become a great king. Before coming to Beowulf’s first conflict, the author writes Beowulf off as arrogant and brash.
As a work of art, it also fulfills its purpose of moral instruction and today serves as a demonstration of the values held by the Anglo-Saxon people. Particularly through the characters of Beowulf and Wiglaf, the poem Beowulf illustrates three important morals of the time: bravery, honor and loyalty.
The reader is first introduced to Beowulf as he disembarks from his ship, having just arrived from his home in Geatland in the land of the Danes (Scyldings). He’s an impressive looking man.
There are three main themes in Beowulf. These themes are the importance of finding one’s identity, tensions between the hero code and other value systems, and the difference between a good warrior and a good king.
His victory over Grendel and Grendel’s mother validates his reputation for bravery and fully establishes him as a hero. In the first part of the poem, Beowulf matures little, possessing heroic qualities in abundance from the start.
If Beowulf comes to Hrothgar’s aid, it is because he feels a great sense of loyalty to the king because of his father. In her younger years, Beowulf’s father Ecgtheow had needed help over a feud, and Hrothgar had come to his aid.
Beowulf says he will fight Grendel without armor or sword, hand to claw, because the ogre doesn’t use weapons. If Beowulf is killed, he wants his war shirt (breastplate, mail) returned to King Hygelac. Hrothgar offers a joyful feast in honor of Beowulf’s arrival.