Morality In Beowulf

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Literature represents society’s thoughts and reflections on the meaning and understanding of life. Stretching from the beginning of time, society has always taken time to thoughtfully consider the human experience and morality. Morality comes from the Latin moralis— manner, character, proper intentions. Thus, one can take the definition of morality and use it to judge and analyze actions over time. But, these thoughts on morality could not have been tapped out without utilizing human speech, which is built on the foundation of complex yet precise language. Through core works of literature, language undergoes evolution based on Vico’s four linguistic tropes: metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, and irony. As morality evolves, so does language, thus…show more content…
As Christianity began spreading across England, the cultural ties with paganism were not so easily broken and tossed aside, for the Anglo-Saxons still incorporated fate, dragons, knights, and damsels-in-distress into their everyday folklore. But, by being caught in such a cultural crossroads, Beowulf exhibits a linguistic tension not found in any other piece within this paradigm. The thought present during the Christian paradigm transitioned from a purely metaphoric understanding to a slightly more metonymic understanding. Truth went from being a unified concept to being more of an attainable object, but in the case of Beowulf, it was a unified and attainable through the renunciation of pagan rituals followed by the wholehearted embrace of Christian thought, of good over evil, of salvation from God. It is curious to think about how the Anglo-Saxons gave up their known morals in lieu of something unknown. One can assume that they must have believed that Christian ideas bore some bearing on reality, thus being of some use in everyday life. Thus, the Anglo-Saxons transitioned from metonymic thought to synecdochic thought and expanded their
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