Cultural Values in Beowulf Essay

1284 Words Nov 19th, 2008 6 Pages
The historical document of Beowulf, which also shows the importance of literature, reveals the important cultural values of the warrior society. The epic poem, set in Sweden during the 6th Century, tells the story of a warrior named Beowulf. Scops, or storytellers, keepers of an oral tradition, told stories of heroes and culture from their times. They performed and told the tale of a great thane, finally writing it down sometime around the 8th Century; the only surviving epic poem from this time. As a great piece of literature, this poem follows the life of Beowulf from that of a young and loyal thane who becomes a great respected king and dies proudly, as a warrior. The warrior culture at this time reflects the values of the society of …show more content…
“’We were together on the sea for the time of five nights until the flood drove us apart, the swelling sea, coldest of weathers, darkening night, and the north wind battle-grim turned against us: rough were the waves’”(10). He goes on to say sea monsters attacked him and he ends up killing 9. Beowulf has defended his honor and keeps his reputation intact. Obviously, Beowulf wins respect for his reputation as a warrior, but also has a reputation for his good deeds: “his heart was not savage, but he held the greatest gift that God had given him, the most strength of all mankind, like one brave in battle”(38). Beowulf continues to earn respect through these good deeds and as a leader. As Beowulf ages, he considers his reputation more important than his life, and when the problem of the dragon arises, he decides to battle it by himself. The King says, “’This is not your venture, nor is it right for any man except me alone that he should spend his strength against the monster, do this man’s deed. By my courage, I shall get gold, or war will take your king, dire life-evil’”(44). By dying in battle, the heroic king, Beowolf, helps preserve and even raise his reputation further, as a good, wise, and generous king. Lastly, throughout the poem, Beowulf and other characters show the value of generosity and gift-giving in the warrior society. Both the King and the King’s wife illustrate generosity. As the leader of a kingdom, the King would

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