Beowulf Analysis Essay
Beowulf is a German epic poem that uses archaic English and is set in Scandinavia (Hall 34). It is among the foremost forms of German literature and recounts the tales of a kingdom with oral traditions similar to those of the Arab peoples.
There are several factors in the poem Beowulf that suggest that it might be part of an oral tradition similar to the oral tradition of the Arabian peoples. For example, there is the presence of various kingdoms that had prosperity because of their hardworking kings. In the epic poem Beowulf, King Scyld Scefing of Danes is glorified as a valiant warrior who came from humble beginnings and now has respect in his kingdom. This is similar to the kings in the oral tradition of the Arabian people in terms of the existence of various kingdoms that had authority of its subjects. There is also the alacrity to mention verse in detail that was also characteristic of the oral tradition of the Arabian people. This begins with the exploits of King Scyld Scefing who faces the threats of a dragon called Grendel Scandinavia (Hall 26). This dragon lives in the waste and is most active during the night when he slays members of the kingdom. Alternatively, according to the oral traditions of the Arabs, there are the monsters of the night that visited terror upon the regular folks. These stories are common in the ‘Arabian Nights’ where people face constant dangers of demonic torments.
Another fundamental similarity between the poem Beowulf and the oral traditions of the Arabian people is the element of inheritance in kingdoms. This is apparent in the poem after the death of Scyld thus passing the throne to his son Beowulf. However, this also goes to the son of Beowulf who is Healfdene then to Hrothgar. On the other hand, there is the mother of Grendel who participates in the terror against the kingdom hence killing a member of the Danish nobles. Thereafter, Beowulf retaliate the murder of the noble and slays Grendel’s mother and later decapitates the head of Grendel and takes it in glory to the kingdom. This is similar to the oral tradition of the Arab people when the prince would go to war and fight the enemies in order to acquire respect and dignity Scandinavia (Hall 25). On the same perspective, Beowulf receives a reward from Hrothgar for a job well done and also receives honors and lands as narrated in the oral traditions of the Arabians. Therefore, when Hearded loses his life in the war with the Swedes, according to the royal lineage, Beowulf succeeds him in the throne. Beowulf rules for fifty successful years before another dragon strikes and they draw strategies of countering the monster. This is the same to the oral tradition of the Arabian people whereby successful princes ruled for many years.
On that account, the depiction of the same oral traditions in both Beowulf and Arabian tales is a manifestation of the same traditions and customs. It also shows the global aspect of literature even during the old times Scandinavia (Hall 21).
Hall, Lesslie. Beowulf – An Anglo-Saxon Epic Poem. Mason, OH: Brunauer Press. 2007. Print.