Aristocratic Ideals In Beowulf

1184 Words5 Pages
Within the poem Beowulf the masculine ideals are honour, loyalty and bravery. However, I argue that these ideals are not specifically aristocratic ideals as characters that are not aristocratic can be argued to still hold some of these qualities. Honour and bravery are shown through fighting, often until death, which both human and monster in the poem live up to. Moreover loyalties can be seen to lie in the human aristocratic world as well as with Grendel’s mother, and arguably, the dragon.
It can be argued that Bravery is only an aristocratic ideal as Beowulf, the hero of the poem, exhibits great bravery throughout the poem. ‘When it comes to fighting, I count myself / as dangerous any day as Grendel’. Beowulf demonstrated acts of courage
…show more content…
This being said the Dragon can be seen to have acted honourably, as he was wronged by ‘The intruder who broached his [the dragon’s] treasure / and moved him to wrath had never meant to’ (2221-2222), which shows that his actions were not uncalled for. His reasoning’s are similar to why Beowulf attacked Grendel and Grendel’s mother, both of which are seen as honourable actions. Moreover this the shaming that takes place at Beowulf’s funeral, I think, shows dishonour in Wiglaf’s actions as it would be honourable not to mention others weakness. Similarly Unferth’s taunting of Beowulf can be seen as dishonourable, as he was ‘sick with envy’ (502), making his actions shameful and out of pride. This being said it seems that honour is the differentiating category in becoming an ideal man. The actions of the monsters, especially Grendel can be seen as hugely shameful in the aristocratic ideal of masculinity, but after his actions his mother still defends him. For this reason I do not think that the ideals of masculinity are the same for both the aristocratic society as for others. Although both sides struggle with these ideals, it is the aristocratic side that truly try to become that ideal of masculinity. The ideals of aristocratic masculinity mean for the men to be brave, loyal and honourable. Wiglaf and Beowulf are really the only male characters within the poem that exhibit all three qualities, which implies that they are only aristocratic ideals. This is further backed up by the fact that none of the monsters live up to these expectations, despite showing some of the

More about Aristocratic Ideals In Beowulf

Open Document