Anglo-Saxon Values & Culture in Beowulf Essay
One of the most important aspects of the Anglo-Saxon culture was that in order to be a hero one needs to be a warrior. This important aspect of the culture is vividly portrayed in the text of Beowulf because the character itself is a character of a warrior who fights with different adversaries and finally become king himself. An Anglo-Saxon hero is someone whose capabilities as well as skills are unmatched and as Beowulf has clearly demonstrated all such skills to suggest that the text itself was largely influenced by the current culture of that time. (Hill)
An Anglo-Saxon hero was the one who was mighty and strength and the author has clearly linked this trait of the culture in the poem too. It clearly mentioned that Beowulf was having the strength of almost 30 persons. Apart from strength, courage was another important characteristic of a hero in Anglo-Saxon culture and Beowulf has been successful in demonstrating the same too.
It is critical to understand that Beowulf as a poem depicted the epic story of a person who fights the forces of evil. It is, however, important to note that Anglo-Saxon culture was not a religious culture and they were pagans however, the poem was written by a person who converted to Christianity. This aspect of the poem therefore clearly demonstrates that the authors of the poem were successful in not mingling the same with the text of the poem at some points. It is, however, argued that the Beowulf, despite being a pagan hero, attempted to behave like a Christian too. (Johnson and Treharne)
It is also important to understand that this story is effectively built into two distinctive parts or refers to two different places. The part which deals with the Scandinavian side also successfully integrates the cultural aspects of that culture. It was common at that time that the small tribes often associate themselves with the stronger kings to provide them protection and support. This same aspect has been depicted in the text of Beowulf too as the author has been able to link different aspects of the culture.
Another important aspect of the Anglo-Saxon culture was the utmost loyalty and Beowulf also seems to have contained or touched upon this aspect of the culture too. Loyalty was part of the collective effort by the tribe to survive collectively and shield it from the external enemies. The action of Beowulf to travel by sea to support King Hrothgar is a very vivid example of how the poem has been able to refer to this vital and important characteristic of the Anglo-Saxon culture.
Finally, in Anglo-Saxon culture fighting was just the way of life and was not done in order to avenge the death. Fighting was considered as something which was more honorable therefore the text of Beowulf has been able to contain important and key references to this aspect of the Anglo-Saxon culture.
The above discussion suggests that different aspects of the Anglo-Saxon culture were most important to give Beowulf its due place in the English Literature.
Hill, John M. The Anglo-Saxon warrior ethic: reconstructing lordship in Early English literature. Florida: University Press of Florida, 2000.
Johnson, David, and Elaine Treharne. Readings in Medieval Texts: Interpreting Old and Middle English Literature. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.