Theme Of Homosexuality In Beowulf

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When one thinks back to the Early Middle Ages and the times of stories such as “Beowulf”, images of masculinity and bravery come to mind. Scenes of monster slaying and grand battles for honor and glory are easily accessible in many Old English verse, the men of these tales are strong, decisive and the poster children of the ideal male figure. With all of this testosterone coursing through the lines of the epic poems, it is strange to discover the presence of a feeling that doesn’t really go with the image of the tough man. This feeling exists between the men themselves, and when the feeling is explored, the reader can find examples of homosexual tendencies between the lords of the land and their men. The feeling isn’t really felt between men …show more content…
Beowulf is an epic poem that follows the life of a great hero as he fights monsters and gains fame across the lands. Beowulf is seen as the manliest of men back in his day and even today he is thought of as one of the great heroes of legend. Attributing homosexuality to Beowulf may seem like a bit of a stretch, but there are elements of a deeper love for another man in the poem. Unlike the Wanderer, Beowulf exhibits a more fatherly love for Hrothgar, one that goes beyond the possible love affairs between the two men, and into a more deeper connection that would come from the same love a long married couple experiences. Beowulf comes to the aid of Hrothgar during the reign of terror brought upon Hrothgar’s people by the monster Grendel. The fiend comes into the village and kidnaps or eats anybody that he can find. Hrothgar’s men are helpless against the beast and many have tried and failed to bring the demon down. Beowulf hears of the conflict from beyond the sea and comes to try his hand at killing Grendel. Why would Beowulf come to fight Grendel? It is not like he hasn’t any fame already as he is a well known monster-slayer already at this point in his life. As the poem says when introducing Beowulf, “he was of mankind the strongest of might in those days of this life, noble and mighty” (Luizza, pg. 48). Beowulf has no need to come over win fame, he already has it made in his homeland, so what possesses him to make a journey by sea to fight this monster? It was the love for Hrothgar. Beowulf is the son of Ecgtheow, a man for whom Hrothgar paid a fine in order to settle a blood-feud that Ecgtheow started. Ecgtheow in turn swears fealty to Hrothgar and it is by this that Beowulf is already connected to Hrothgar. Ecgtheow is dead by the time this story starts, so the closest thing that Beowulf has to a father is Hrothgar, his father’s former friend.

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