Beowulf

The strength of his rational mind is not diminishing the pains of his emotions. On the
contrary, the speaker is losing his sanity as time progresses. In the past, perhaps, the
speaker’s rational thought processes allowed him to cope with failed romances. However,
in the presence of this love for his dark mistress, all his logical mental abilities are
overpowered. His rational mind, which he depends on for truth and sanity, has left him in
the face of love. The torment of love has made it impossible for the speaker to make
truthful, objective observations about his world (“Companion to” 43). In this poem,
Shakespeare claims that it is love, not reason, that shapes one’s perception of the world,
for one’s mind, the ideal and rational judgment-maker, is subject to and overwhelmed by
the whims of emotion (“Companion to” 44). At the beginning of Sonnet 147, the speaker’s
love is described as a fever, but as the sonnet continues, the effects of love intensify.


Towards the end of the poem, love has completely overwhelmed his mind, inducing him to
become “frantic-mad (Line 10).” He continues, “My thoughts and my discourse as mad
men’s are, /At random from the truth vainly expressed (Lines 10 and 11).” The language
Shakespeare chooses further emphasizes the crazed effect love has had on the speaker’s
mind (Rowse, A Biography 72). The word “discourse”, for instance, derives from Latin,
meaning “to run about.” The use of this word creates a clear image of a mad man running
wild and uncontrolled. This love not only makes him go insane, it also blinds him from the
truth (Rowse, A Biography, 74). He says, “For I have sworn thee fair and thought thee
bright, /Who art as black as hell, as dark as night (Lines 13 and 14) .” The speaker’s
logical mind knows that his woman is evil, yet his love for her blinds him and he sees her
as beautiful.
Love, then, is, for Shakespeare, a force that operates within several different
contexts. As such, love has a multi-faceted definition, which yields to a multi-faceted
identity. Shakespeare defines love in three different ways.
First, love can be seen as an internal force fighting against other internal forces, as we see
in Sonnet 147, where the speaker’s inner turmoil stems from the battle of his love against
his reason within himself. Second, Shakespeare epics love as an internal force which
battles external forces, such as social pressures. Finally, Shakespeare portrays love on an
even larger scale, where Love is an external power that, independent of any individual,
struggles against and then defeats Time, another external entity (Booth 14). Clearly, if
love is an overwhelming, forceful entity that defeats time, death, social pressures, and
reason, then love is no longer simply an internalized emotion; it is also an externalized
power which can exist independent of human beings (Booth 22). Sonnet 147 deals with
love as an internal agony where there is no mention of outside forces at play. This is a
personal poem where Shakespeare uses the metaphor of disease and illness to represent
the obsessive love which has taken over his speaker’s senses (“The Works” 119) . The
speaker describes an internal battle where his mind is being devoured by his crazed
sickness, love. Both his love and his reason though, are internalized, sparring forces. In
contrast to poem 147, Sonnet 130 describes the experiences of a man’s struggle against
external, social factors, such as his culture’s romantic ideal for one’s beloved. Here, the
speaker’s love is an internal force which overcomes external factors, as the speaker uses
love as a justification for his adoring relationship with a woman (“The Works” 134). In
Sonnet 116, Shakespeare goes one step further, and depicts two external forces, Love and

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Beowulf

The epic poem, Beowulf, depicts the most heroic man of the Anglo-Saxon times. The hero, Beowulf, was an outstanding warrior with all the extraordinary values required by a hero. He was able to use his super-human physical strength and courage to put his people before himself. He encountered terrifying monsters and the most ferocious of beasts, but he never feared the threat of death. His leadership skills were excellent and he was able to boast about all his achievements. Beowulf was the ultimate epic hero who risked his life countless times for immortal glory and for the good of others. Common traits of an Anglo-Saxon warrior were physical strength, leadership skills and heroic stoicism, which Beowulf demonstrated throughout this poem.

Beowulf was a hero in the eyes of his fellow men through his amazing physical strength. He fought in numerous battles and returned victorious from all but his last. One of those victorious battles, was the battle against Grendel, in which Beowulf fought against a monster that had killed many men. He twisted in pain, and the bleeding sinews deep in his shoulder snapped, muscle and bone split and broke (31.389). Beowulf showed his great strength by ripping Grendels arm with his bare hands, which would be impossible for a regular human to do. When Beowulf fought Grendel’s mother, who sought revenge for her son’s death, he was able to defeat her as well. From its scabbard, broke the chain on its hilt, and then savage, now, angry and desperate, lifted it high over his head and struck with all the strength he had left” (38.535). He was able to slay Grendels mother by slashing the monster’s neck with a giant’s sword that could only be lifted by a person as strong as Beowulf. After defeating Grendels mother, Beowulf decided to finish off Grendel by slashing the monster’s neck with the giant sword. Then struck off his head with a single swift blow. The body jerked for the last time, then lay still (38.560). After Beowulf chopped off his head, he carried it from the ocean to Herot mead-hall with ease. The head was so enormously heavy that it would take four men to lift and carry it.
Another trait of Beowulf was his ability to put his peoples welfare before his own. Heard how Grendel filled night with horror and quickly commanded a boat fitted out, proclaiming that hed go to that famous king, would sail across the sea to Hrothgar, now when he was needed (23.113). Beowulf was sent to help rid the Danes from the evil Grendel. Beowulf, asking help from no one, risked his own life for the Danes. He was conscious of the dangers, but feared nothing for his own life. Beowulf designed a plan to defeat Grendel, which was to catch him at night. Waiting to see his swift hard claws, Grendel snatched at the first Geat he came to, ripped him apart, cut his body to bits with powerful claws (29.313). To defeat Grendel, Beowulf had to give up one of his men to catch the monster. While Grendel was eating his prey, Beowulf grabbed the monster and ultimately defeated it. Eventually, Beowulf became the King of the Geats. As he grew old, he decided to go on battle one last time to fight a horrible dragon, who frightened all of his people. Ive never known fear, as a youth I fought in endless battles. I am old, now, but I will fight again, seek fame still, if the dragon hiding in his tower dares to face me (40.624). Beowulf was old and tired but he defeated the dragon in order to protect his people. Even in death he wished safety for the Geats, therefore, he built a tall lighthouse in order to help the people find their way back from the sea.

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The most heroic of traits within Beowulf was that he was not afraid to die. He always explained his death wishes before going into battle and requested to have any assets delivered to his people. “Remember, Hrothgar, Oh knowing king, now when my danger is near, the warm words we uttered, and if your enemy should end my lifeand the precious gifts you gave me, my friend, send them to Higlac (36.450-458). He was aware of the dangers that he was going to face, but he knew that he would be glorified in life or death for his actions. When Beowulf arrived at the Danish shores, Unferth, a Danish warrior questioned Beowulfs bravery before the battle with Grendel. And you, Unferth, let my famous old sword stay in your hands: I shall shape glory with Hrunting, or death will hurry me from this earth! (36.463). Even with the enormous amount of confidence Beowulf possessed, he understood that Fate or Wyrd would work its magic no matter what and that he could be killed at any point in his life. He knew that when he fought an enemy like Grendel or Grendel’s mother, he would achieve immortality as the victor or the loser. But her guest discovered that no sword could slice her evil skinfor the first time in years of being worn to war it would earn no glory; it was the last time anyone would wear it. But Beowulf longed for fame, leaped back into battle (37.495). Beowulf again showed his faith by showing no fear and by preparing for a positive or a fatal outcome.

Physical strength, leadership skills and heroic stoicism were a couple of characteristics that Beowulf demonstrated to show that he was the prime example of an epic hero. His bravery and strength surpass all mortal men. Beowulf came openly and wholeheartedly to help the Danes which was an unusual occurrence in a time of war and widespread fear. He set a noble example for all human beings relaying the necessity of brotherhood and friendship. Beowulf was most definitely the ideal Anglo-Saxon warrior as an epic hero of epic proportions.


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