Theme Of Fame In Beowulf

Fame has always been people’s motivation and ultimate goal for thousands of years. While it can be achieved in many different ways and is regarded differently by all cultures, fame is constantly strived for. Some of the first stories concerning famous people and warriors came from the Anglo Saxons that controlled England for almost 600 years, from 449 AD until 1042 AD. In their culture they greatly admired and celebrated the heroes that were able to obtain fame, which is displayed in the epic Beowulf. All of their acclaimed warriors had many similar characteristics that allowed them to become memorable in their civilization, including their incessant search for fame. These characteristics differ based on each civilization’s individual culture, …show more content…
All highly acclaimed fighters and leaders present in Beowulf, embody the characteristics found most praiseworthy by the Anglo Saxons. As demonstrated throughout the epic poem Beowulf, fame is the most virtuous goal that can be reached, and is only achieved by the strongest and most selfish warriors in the Anglo Saxon society.
Lof, which in Anglo Saxon times meant fame after death, is the driving force for warriors to brashly risk their lives in order to be seen as the best. No matter the challenge a warrior faces or how difficult it may be, “he who can earn it should fight / for the glory of his name; fame after death / is the noblest of goals” (1387-1389). In Anglo Saxon culture, shying away from a task is seen as form of cowardice, and it brings dishonor onto one’s race. If a warrior does not defend or fight to honor their heritage, their name will be tainted and they will never be able to achieve any recognition for their actions. The noble warrior Beowulf, the protagonist in the epic Beowulf, demonstrates his lifelong search for fame when he explains his reasoning for slaying
…show more content…
Warriors are always looking for ways to make themselves seem better and more important, which in turn means that they have to be triumphant in their battles against evil forces. While many times warriors end up helping their society and community by doing this, their reasons behind their respectable actions are to make themselves famous. As Beowulf brags before his duel with the dragon, “In every battle my place was in front, / alone, and so it shall be forever…” (2497-2498). Beowulf validates his selfishness by stating that he will fight the dragon alone and with no support from his people. He knows that by defeating villainous forces by himself, he is able to appear more dominant than everyone else. If he did not stand up to enemies by himself, for example with Grendel, Grendel’s mother and the dragon, he would be sharing the reward, praise and respect received and it would be much harder to achieve fame at all. In addition, some rulers wage wars and wipe out entire towns just for the reason of making a reputation for themselves and attaining everlasting glory. Scops have told stories about kings acting without reason including “Finn’s people, attacking / Hnaf with no warning, half wiping out / that danish tribe, and killing its king” (1068-1070). Finn demonstrates the selfish ends

Related Documents

Related Topics