Beowulf By Seamus Heaney: Poem Analysis

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Contrary to poetry’s perceived elegance, French philosopher Denis Diderot once stated: “Poetry must have something in it that is barbaric, vast and wild”. In the epic poem Beowulf, Seamus Heaney portrays the narrator’s intentions of conveying savagery in its antagonists. This poem details the experiences of a warrior named Beowulf who both rises and falls through his prideful attitude in combat. Although Beowulf encounters both external and internal threats, the poem’s tone and phrasing demonstrates the role of human bias, which determines outside threats to be more savage. The poet’s tone describes the savagery of outside threats to convey human bias’ role in judging barbarity. After being awakened by a trespasser, the dragon encircles…show more content…
As Grendel is introduced, he is regarded as the spoiler of the Danes’ prosperity: “time were pleasant for the [Danes] / until finally one, a fiend out of hell, / began to work his evil in the world” (99-101). Grendel’s identity as a “fiend out of hell” demonstrates that Grendel’s nature renders him the antithesis of human values. Furthermore, the characterization of Grendel’s malicious actions reveals that human welfare dictates the standards of good and evil. Therefore, outside threats such as Grendel are deemed more barbaric due to the confliction between the interests of themselves and that of humans. As Grendel’s mother avenges her son by purging Heorot hall, she “[pounces] and [takes] one of the retainers / in a tight hold, then [heads] for the fen” (1294-1295). The utilization of the word “pounce” in describing Grendel’s mother’s ambush against Heorot Hall reveals that her predatory nature. Despite the prevalence of invasions during this period, Grendel’s mother is viewed as vulgar due to her inhuman style of combat. Thus, the poet’s manipulation of wording allows him to exhibit the crudeness of Beowulf’s inhuman

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