“Beowulf” is the first of the epics in English poetry. The Angles brought the story of “Beowulf” with them to England in the 6th century.
The story is about Scandinavians. It contains over three thousand lines and deals with three episodes that are connected together only by the central figure of the hero himself.”Beowulf” gives a very valuable and faithful historical record of Ancient Teutonic life–their system of government, social institutions, their culture and religion, their belief and superstitions. It also gives pictures of the Anglo Saxon life very vividly. Now we will discuss the pictures of the Anglo Saxon life with special reference to “Beowulf”.
The description of Beowulf’s fight with Grendel has a Homeric vigor. Beowulf, the nephew of Hygelec who was the king of Geats decides to come to rescue the Kingdom of Hrothgar. He was greatly welcomed by the people of Danes. He has come to fight with Grendel, the monster.
The story of “Beowulf” presents a picture of Teutonic life and manners. It presents the activities of the fore-fathers of English in the Per-Christian era. Therefore, Beowulf is considered as a criticism of Anglo-Saxon life. The following characteristics of Anglo Saxon life we find in Beowulf —
★Anglo-Saxon were a pastoral race.
★They were hard-working people and lived by hunting.
★They were physically stout and was ready to face danger.
★They were fewed and tribal fights.
★The women enjoyed a high position.
★They had rights and privileges.
★The sports for the Anglo Saxons were swimming, hunting, horse-racing, drinking, etc.
★They were fond of using different types of weapons and armors such as coats of mail, helmets, swords, and spears.
The view of life is equally gloomy though the poem is a glorification of adventure. There is no joy and no tenderness to relieve the gloom. As a picture of the social life of a primitive age, it has a great historical significance.
Beowulf holds a special position in the Anglo Saxon literature. It holds the culture and society of the heroic age of Germanic people.
Thus, the poem gives a very valuable and faithful historical record of ancient Teutonic life, their system of government, social institutions, their culture and religion, their belief, and superstitions.
To sum up, we can say that “Beowulf” is the mirror of the Anglo Saxon life. It is full of war. Therefore, Beowulf presents a faithful picture of Germanic life and manners.
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