How Does Beowulf Reflect Society's Values

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Literature has maintained a strong influence on society and its perceptions of heroes for centuries. In consequence, the time period in which a literary work is written reveals much about that society’s ideals. For example, the Anglo-Saxon epic, Beowulf, translated by Seamus Heaney, illustrates the deeds of a heroic knight and reflects the values of his community. Throughout the poem, Beowulf displays commendable behavior by saving another kingdom, defeating three villains, and maintaining allegiance to the lord and his people. Even though a millennium has passed since the release of this epic, heroes today display characteristics similar to those of Beowulf. Yusra Mardini, for instance, is a Syrian teenager who while escaping her war-torn country, saved tens of refugees from drowning. Her heroic action…show more content…
After defeating Grendel and his mother, Beowulf is offered countless gifts from Hrothgar during a celebratory feast, a significant ritual of the Anglo-Saxons. After returning to his land, Beowulf recalls the feast by telling his king, “‘I got lavish rewards from the lord of the Danes for my part in the battle, beaten gold and much else’” (Heaney, 2101-2103). Due to being the nephew of the king and the “son-in-heart” of Hrothgar, Beowulf belongs to the highest class in his society, as well as the wealthiest. On the other hand, Mardini belonged to a regular middle-class family in a devastated country. During an interview, she said admitted that “her country's civil war had left her family homeless, and she and her sister were among 20 people in the boat — and millions overall — trying to reach Europe” (NBC). Therefore, she is one of a million poor and powerless refugees attempting to start over and hopefully rebuild their lives. All things considered, Beowulf and Mardini’s contrasting traits illustrate that one can be a hero regardless of social class and
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