Custom Essay: The Use Of Symbols In Beowulf

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Symbolism means, the practice of investing things with a symbolic meaning or character

(Dictionary.com). In other words, items or characters that relate to other meanings or another

object. In the epic poem Beowulf, the use of symbols develop different significances to the

poem and how they were portrayed in the poem (Heaney). The various symbols in Beowulf

contain Hrothgar’s mead hall, Grendel’s swamp, the sea, and the dragon’s treasure cove serve to

develop the poem in significant ways. Along with the major symbols in the poem there are few

smaller symbols that still play a key role in the structure of the poem.

The earliest symbol that is introduced in the epic poem is the mead hall, Heorot. The

Danish mead hall was used
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Beowulf mainly fights with his own

strength when his weapons fail him. “I have heard moreover that the monster scorns in his

reckless way to use weapons; therefore, to heighten Hygelac’s fame and gladden his heart, I

hereby renounce sword

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and shelter of the broad shield, the heavy war-board: hand-to-hand is how it will be, a life-and-

death fight with a fiend.” (Heaney line 433-440). Beowulf states this when he decides to fight

Grendel without the help of any weapons or shields and leave it up to God to judge who will win

the fight (Shmoop). Beowulf is so strong that his might can bring down beasts and even swords

are weak to him, making Beowulf s heroism greater than weapons.

Through the poem are many symbols which help give the poem a deeper meaning than

just what is on the pages at first sight. Symbols are items or character that are symbols or relate

to another thing or meaning. Many of the different symbols which influence the story of the

great warrior Beowulf like; swords, dark and gruesome caves, and the waters surrounding the

lands. Symbols add depth to any story or poem and gives similarity to other meanings the reader

may know

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