Essay, Research Paper: Beowulf Ideals

Literature: Beowulf

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Ideals are standards of perfection or excellence. For the Anglo-Saxons of the
Dark Ages these ideals were loyalty, valor, unselfishness, and a sense of
justice. Through Beowulf’s journey we can see how he exhibits these ideals.
The first of these ideals is loyalty, which Beowulf shows when he obeys his
people’s request for him to go to the Danes. “My people have said…that my
duty was to go to the Danes…Now Grendel and I are called together, and I’ve
come.” This shows how loyal he is to his people that no matter what they ask
he will go to the ends of the earth to fulfill their wishes. He will even risk
his life, as he does with Grendel, to please them. The second ideal the
Anglo-Saxons held so dearly was valor. Beowulf exhibits this ideal clearly in
this quote: “My hands alone shall fight for me, struggle for life against the
monster.” This quote shows how he shows boldness and determination in battle
and the regards the outcome as menial while the real honor is gained in the
battle. The third ideal held sacred by the Anglo-Saxons was unselfishness. When
Beowulf hears of the plight of the Danes he drops everything and runs to their
rescue. Even though he has no obligation to help the Danes, he still volunteers
his skills and his life as he begins his journey to fight Grendel. The true test
of Beowulf came when he puts his life in God’s hands and fights Grendel:
“God must decide who will be given to death’s cold grip.” This shows, very
simply, that he is willing to do whatever it takes for others. The last of the
Anglo-Saxon ideals is a sense of justice. When Beowulf first hears of Grendel he
hears about the horrible crimes that he is committing to mankind, he at once
rushes to the Dane’s rescue. He believes that Grendel should be punished for
the crimes he has committed. All of these ideals; loyalty, valor, unselfishness,
and a sense of justice, were all very important to the Anglo-Saxons. This is why
the epic of Beowulf became so popular at the time, because he exhibited all of
the sacred ideals.
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