Theme Of Respect In Beowulf By Seamus Heaney

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In the epic poem Beowulf, by Seamus Heaney, there seems to be an underlying idea of respect. In the years prior to his final battle with a dragon, Beowulf was powerful, generous and very gracious to his people. He gave his spoils of battle to his kingdom and protected the friends and allies of his nation. These are the kinds of traits possessed by a truly exceptional king who deserves respect, such as Beowulf. However, in his later years, he begins to exhibit characteristics of greed and an obsession with gold and riches. In the minutes before his death, he even says “I want to examine that ancient gold, gaze my fill on those garnered jewels; my going will be easier for having seen the treasure” (185). He further demands that a barrow is constructed in his honor and named after him. These actions do not align with the good ideals he stood for and represented earlier in the poem; rather they seem to oppose them. However, despite this major change in Beowulf, one thing stays the same. The writer and the Geats still talk about Beowulf respectfully and as a hero because of the commendable things he had done in the past. This is made obvious through statements like “he was the man most…show more content…
Earlier, in one of the stories within the story, Queen Modthryth is brought up. Near the start of her rule she “perpetrated terrible wrongs” and chose to “punish the innocent” (133) for offenses so minor they wouldn't even be called offenses. Even in viking culture, some of the things she did, such as binding, torturing, racking and slaughtering with a sword were considered brutal. However, despite these cruel things, there was still a level of respect for her. In fact one man had enough respect and faith in her that she eventually changed and became “less cruel minded” (133). In this situation, respect was shown to yet another flawed

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