Examples Of Archetypes In Beowulf

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An archetype can be described as “the original pattern or model from which all things of the same kind are copied or on which they are based; a model or first form; prototype” (dictionary.com). In literature, most stories contain universal archetypes from original stories. The epic poem Beowulf, an oral poem from the Anglo-Saxon people, uses common archetypes throughout the poem that can be related to a multitude of later literature. Beowulf demonstrates archetypes such as good vs. evil, the hero’s journey, and villains throughout the story. The poem Beowulf embodies the universal archetype of good vs. evil. This is first exemplified when Grendel enters the story to wreak havoc in Hrothgar’s kingdom. The narrator describes the night of …show more content…

Grendel is a descendent of Cain, who in the Bible is considered the bane of humans. Being one of Cain descendants, he is evil by blood. Grendel may be considered the personification of evil itself in the epic poem, killing Hrothgar’s men and terrorizing the town. Another good example that adds to the archetype of good and evil is Beowulf and his dedication to slay Grendel. Beowulf speaks this promise to Hrothgar: “I meant to perform to the uttermost / What your people wanted or perish in the attempt, / in the fiend's clutches. And I shall fulfill that purpose, / Prove myself with a proud deed / or meet my death here in the mead-hall” (634-638). Beowulf displays his selflessness and devotion to fighting for what is right and helping a land that is not his own or die protecting Hrothgar’s people. Beowulf is a perfect example of the brave, selfless, honorable hero who is considered the good, going to defeat the evil. The last good example of this archetype is when Beowulf and Grendel fight in the mead hall. The narrator describes the scene: “Venturing closer, / his talon was raised to attack Beowulf / where he lay on the bed; he was bearing in / with open claw when the alert hero's / comeback …show more content…

In the YouTube video, “What makes a hero? - Matthew Winkler”, It explains that all heroes are the same, as well as the journey they take. The cycle of the hero stated in the video is: Status quo, call to adventure, assistance, departure, trials, approach, crisis, treasure, result, return to ordinary world, new life, resolution (Ted-ed). Beowulf uses the archetype of the hero’s journey, which includes a call to adventure, assistance, trials, treasure, and new life. Beowulf’s call to adventure as described by the narrator, is: “When he heard about Grendel, Hygelac’s thane / Was on home ground, over in Geatland. / There was no one else like him alive. / In his day, he was the mightiest man on earth, / High-born and powerful. He ordered a boat / That would ply the waves. He announced his plan: / To sail the swan’s roads and search out that king, / The famous prince who needed defenders” (Heaney 194-201). Right away, Beowulf acknowledges that he is needed to defeat the demon, and accepts the call. Beowulf receives a lot of assistance from warriors, but the main source of help Beowulf receives is from God. This is shown in Beowulf’s final words before he battles Grendel: And may the Divine Lord / In His wisdom grant victory / To whichever side He sees fit.” (685-687). What Beowulf states illustrates his complete trust and faith in God and his plan, and he understands that his strength comes from God and all his accomplishments

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