Dichotomy In Beowulf

1841 Words8 Pages
Beowulf is a classic tale of a hero who undergoes certain trials and tribulations and proves his bravery. However when one glances under the surface, it is clear that the story is about so much more. Over the course of the poem Beowulf has to learn to balance two opposing sides of his personality-his monstrous, angry, berserker-like side with more restrained and civilized character. In Germanic culture in general, a dichotomy lies between the reverence of famous berserkers, who when enraged become the most fearsome of warriors, and the values of self-restraint placed on people, specifically in the feasting setting. Beowulf is all about the navigation of that tight line of cultural tension between the two options. In Germanic culture, controlled rage during times of war is considered useful to the protection and development of the realm. There exist many tales of fantastic warriors, who can reach a level of bloodlust that they become nigh invincible in a fight. One of these famous warriors is Bodvar Bjarki, who appears in the Saga of King Hrolf Kraki. Such was the reputation of berserkers and their legendary anger, that when Bodvar first came to King Hring to take revenge on the Queen…show more content…
His "raging temper" led to him estranging himself from all his closest friends, and he witnessed as he became "a bane to the people". What separates Beowulf from Heremod is that he has a measure of restraint, and he is both "physically strong and acute of mind"(1843). Beowulf is considered a true hero in the eyes of Hrothgar and others not just because of his ability to kill monsters, but because he subscribes to keeping the peace when necessary. The best heroes do not threaten civilized society during peacetime through needless fighting, but uphold it by being patient and prudent, as Beowulf
Open Document