Theme Of Ambiguity In Beowulf

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Register to read the introduction… In the compound “slaughter/fall” (125) the second element can not only mean “a fall in battle” but also “feast” or “fill.” So there is sometimes doubt about accuracy in translating. In the Finnsburh Episode the Danes are fighting the Frisians, and the poet says: “So they offered terms [of peace]” (1085). The “they” (hig) is indefinete and could refer to either warring party – intentional ambiguity; there is debate among scholars as to the proper referent of “they.” In line 1149 a sea-journey is mentioned, “after which” or “about which” Guthlaf and Oslaf speak their woes. The ambiguity is caused by “aefter” which can have either meaning. In lines 1148-50 they could be: (1) enlisting Danes, (2) egging Hengest on, or (3)baiting Finn – depending on one’s translation of the word “moenan,” which verb has three different …show more content…
This enables him to extend a sentence on and on indefinitely. Beowulf, upon his return home from Denmark, tells Hygelac:

In his angry grief the king implored me

by your life,Hygelac, to show my courage

in the press of waters, put life in danger,

work fame (2131-34)

The absence of subordinating conjunctions makes things simple, concise and unfeeling? In his reception speech back in Geatland, Beowulf says:

So ought a kinsman

always act, never weave nets

of evil in secret, prepare the death

of close companions (2166-69)

The clauses can be complementary or contrastive. In some cases there is great ambiguity caused by parataxis. For example, After the Swedish king Onela took vengeance upon Hygelac’s son, the author says “he was a good king” (2390). Having a conjunction in front of this clause would help the listener to grasp the proper meaning of this half-line which in its paratactic form is very ambiguous. Does it refer to Onela or to Beowulf who became ruler of Hygelac’s

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