Role Of Shield Sheafson In Beowulf

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Shield Sheafson the Minor King
There are a wide variety of characters in the epic Beowulf, all of whom have their own specific function in the poem. In the epic, Beowulf goes on a voyage to the Danish empire to liberate Heorot Hall from Grendel and Grendel’s vengeful mother. After returning from his journey, Beowulf ages and eventually becomes king of the Geats. The Geats are at peace until a dragon attacks, forcing Beowulf to perform one last heroic deed and defeat the dragon, but not without losing his own life in the process. Among the characters throughout Beowulf’s adventure, Shield Sheafson is a minor character whose functions are to build a great Danish kingdom that provides context and setting for much of the story, in addition
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While the epic is describing Shield Sheafson, it explains how great a king he was and that “In the end each clan on the outlying coasts / beyond the whale-road had to yield to [Shield Sheafson] / and begin to pay tribute. That was one good king” (9-11). Shield earns the title of “good king” and the Danes thrive under his leadership as a response to his victories over neighboring clans. By gaining the honor of “good king,” Shield proves that he is a successful ruler. The Shielding lineage is not the only powerful monarchy in Beowulf, there is also the Geat dynasty. The son of Hygelac and current king of the Geats, Headred, leads his men into battle against the Swedes, but does not return: “leaving Beowulf / to ascend the throne, to sit in majesty / and rule over the Geats. He was a good king”(2387-2390). Beowulf, Headred’s closest living relative, becomes king of the Geats and rules for fifty prosperous years, proving him worthy of the status “good king” alongside Shield Sheafson. Since both Beowulf and Shield share the title of “good king,” they must also share thriving empires. Therefore, Shield has the function of representing Beowulf as a result of their kingdoms flourishing under their …show more content…
While raising his son Beow and ruling the Danes, Shield Sheafson passes: “Shield was still thriving when his time came / and he crossed over into the Lord’s keeping” (26-27). Shield’s story ends with him dying and receiving an impressive funeral illustrating how great leaders eventually die. By demonstrating that powerful rulers die, Shield Sheafson is foreshadowing the demise of future kings like Beowulf because they too must have an end. Similar to Shield Sheafson, Beowulf’s adventure comes to a conclusion. After defeating the dragon with the help of Wiglaf, Beowulf says his last words and tells Wiglaf that “You are the last of us, the only one left / of the Waegmundings. Fate swept us away, / sent my whole brave high-born clan / to their final doom. Now I must follow them” (2813-2816). Beowulf passes without an heir causing him to choose Wiglaf as his successor to the throne, which begins Wiglaf’s story. When Beowulf dies and passes the role of hero to Wiglaf, the epic is referencing how Shield’s death passes the role of hero to Beowulf. Therefore, Beowulf’s death is an event that Shield’s demise foreshadows. Shield Sheafson serves the role of foreshadowing Beowulf’s undoing because the deaths of both kings lead to the beginning of a new

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