Power In Beowulf

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Throughout history, power has been one of the most desirable, yet, difficult to obtain traits that a person can hold. Possessing power gives a certain advantage to the holder over all others. When a person obtains power, that person has the ability to carry out an action or has the capacity to direct or influence the behavior of others or a course of events. Power can be interpreted into many different meanings. Power can be described as mental, as in, a very intelligent person has the power to influence others and events with their thoughts and ideas, or, power could be described as something physical, as in, a person has the power to lift, move, or fight someone or something, influencing the thoughts of others by their own actions. In the…show more content…
During those times, there was no formal education system and less of an emphasis on mental power compared to physical power. This is the exact reason power was different in the Anglo-Saxon time period to as it is now. The Anglo-Saxons valued traits like courage, bravery, integrity, etc. Not that those traits aren’t valued today, it’s just that advanced mental capacity and brain power were not needed to acquire these traits. These values could be easily acquired through physical power and physical activities like conquering and hand to hand combat. In Beowulf, Grendel is described as powerful by the physical feats he is capable of, not on his mental capability. “Then a powerful demon, a prowler through the dark… Greedy and grim, he grabbed thirty men…” (86, 122). “He grabbed and mauled a man on his bench… Bit into his bone lappings…” (740-741). Every time Grendel is portrayed, he is described by his physical actions, his physical power over the Geats. Every display of power that Grendel exudes is described in a physical manner. Another example is how Beowulf is described in Beowulf during the battles with Grendel, Grendel’s mother, the dragon, etc. “The howl of the loser, the lament of the hell serf, keening his wound. He was overwhelmed, manacled tight by the man of all men, was foremost and strongest of all days of his life…” (786-789). “The hero observed the swamp-thing from hell, the tarn-hag in all her terrible strength, Then heaved his sword and swung his arm…” (1518-1520). In the same fashion as Grendel was described, Beowulf was described mostly by his physical strength and power. The descriptions of every powerful character in Beowulf mostly consisting of descriptions of physical feats of power shows demonstrates that in the Anglo-Saxon time period, power was seen as almost entirely
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