Analysis Of Beowulf's Poem 'Human'

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“Human,” by Maggie Ginter-Frankovitch, is a long poem with five parts and is written in the style of an epic. It has short, concise lines that contain many literary and poetic devices. In these poems, the three battles of Beowulf are explored, through the perspective of the monsters’ claws. In Beowulf, translated by Burton Raffel, claws are portrayed as the evil beings that are the difference between the humans and the monsters. If one had claws in the poem, immediately they were imprinted with the word evil. The claws in “Human” have one mind, and experience each battle with the knowledge of the fight before. Claws play a huge role during all three battles and this poem grants them sympathy and instead lays the role of the villain onto…show more content…
They are depicted as pure evil, and during Beowulf’s battle with Grendel, the idea that the monster has claws is repeated. “Eyes were watching his evil steps/Waiting to see his swift hard claws” (Beowulf 11. 737-8). They first talk about his evil steps, and then bring up his claws, which implies that they believe his claws are evil too. When Beowulf grabs hold of Grendel, the poet made sure to mention that he held Grendel’s claws with his hands (Beowulf 11.752). This demonstrates that Beowulf was not a monster, but in fact, a hero. In “Human”, Beowulf’s “hug” is not out of goodwill or kindness, but out of the will to kill Grendel and his claws. “I was greeted with a gesture, given by hands/Generally used for showing sincere affection” (Human 2.38-9). By conveying how the claws felt, and personifying them, it shows two humans battling, and empathy from the reader is more likely. The claws appear again in the battle between Grendel’s mother and Beowulf. “She welcomed him in her claws” (Beowulf 22.1501). Claws also play a significant role in this battle, as they express how evil and inhuman Grendel’s mother is. In “Human”, Grendel’s mother is so angry she uses her claws, “tearing at him” (Human 3.87). Just as Beowulf uses his sword against her, she too uses her only defense and the symbol of her monstrosity; her claws. Both poems show how Grendel’s mother uses her claws as a…show more content…
Enjambment helps the reader either empathize with the claws, or villainize them. This device shows the difference in view that the poets took in conveying their heroes and villains. Enjambment magnifies how oppositely the writers felt about Fate. In Beowulf, she is depicted as a mother, or a god, looking out for her favorites. “Human” despises her though, and says that she didn’t care for anyone but the humans. Symbolism also displays the divide in opinions. The soldiers uses the word “evil” in the same sentence as “claws” to draw emphasis to them. In the other approach, the word “hands” shows that hands could do an equal amount of evil. Lastly, Polysyndeton brought sympathy through revealing similarities between monster and man and brought the two stories together. Both sides wished to avenge those they loved, and wanted to hate the other. These devices gain empathy for the monsters in this story and link these stories together, through taking opposite
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