The Importance Of Honor Code In Beowulf

1509 Words 7 Pages
In the poem Beowulf, the main character Beowulf shows strength, courage, and leadership. Throughout the poem, Beowulf personifies Anglo-Saxon honor and acts accordingly in all of his interactions with others. Beowulf is heroic in his deeds, wise in his leadership, and always follows the honor code. This honor code was extremely important in Anglo-Saxon society and one of the main themes of the poem explores the negative consequences of not following the code. The monster Grendel exemplifies everything considered dishonorable in Anglo-Saxon society. Through him, we can see what the Anglo-Saxons considered negative character traits. Grendel is described as a fatherless descendant of Cain. He “had dwelt for a time In misery among the banished …show more content…
The Danes were peacefully sleeping after a night of song and laughter, when “suddenly then the God cursed brute was creating havoc” (120). The only thing the Danes had done to provoke Grendel was being happy. For this perceived offense, Grendel attacks the Danes and kills and eats thirty of the men in one night. In Heorot, Grendel inflicts “constant cruelties on the people, Atrocious hurt” (152 – 153) by viciously attacking the Danes every night for twelve years. Fearing for their safety, people flee their homes in terror. The king of the Danes is beset with sorrow, as he and his men cannot stop Grendel’s attacks. Grendel attacks Heorot until “the greatest house In the world stood empty, a deserted wallstead” (145 – 146). No matter how much havoc he wreaks, however, Grendel is stopped from sitting on the throne in Heorot because he “rules in defiance of right” (144). Grendel rules in defiance of what is right because he had no cause to attack the Danes, and as such cannot sit on the throne because he is not considered worthy. Grendel’s attack on the Danes is particularly disgraceful as the Danes had done nothing to provoke him and yet he attacks them viciously, in their own hall, for twelve …show more content…
Grendel starts a “long and unrelenting feud” (153) with the Danes by killing them undeservedly. These feuds can be ended without unnecessary bloodshed if the perpetrator pays wereguild to the victim’s family. If these reparations are made, then the feud can be considered settled and further bloodshed could be avoided. Feuding cost many lives and in Anglo-Saxon society and thus starting a feud and not trying to end it peacefully was considered dishonorable. The loss of life caused by feuding is portrayed as unnecessary in the poem Beowulf. However, Grendel does not attempt to make reparations for his crimes. He “…would never Parley or make peace with any Dane Nor stop his death-dealing nor pay the death-price. No counselor could ever expect Fair reparation from those rabid hands” (154 – 158). Grendel makes no effort to end his feud honorably and instead keeps killing Danes with has no intention to stop. Eventually, the number of deaths that Grendel causes becomes so great that no amount of wereguild will end it peacefully. From the Dane’s point of view, the only way that the feud could be considered settled is Grendel’s

Related Documents

Related Topics