Skip Nav

How is my intro paragraph for my Beowulf essay?

How to cite this page

❶In sum, the historical allusions in the poem, with the exception of that of Hygelac, seem largely insufficient as a basis for any sound dating of the text.

Beowulf Essay Topics

Report Abuse
Beowulf Essay Examples

How does Beowulf demonstrate the four earthly virtues present within Anglo-Saxon society? Explain what these virtues are within your introduction, then, explain how Beowulf fits three of these virtues in particular. What are the four earthly virtues of Anglo-Saxon society? Explain how Luke Skywalker exhibits that same criteria. Why should I care?

Can't change a rubric once you've started using it. You've already rated students with this rubric. Any major changes could affect their assessment results. Edit criterion description Delete criterion row. This criterion is linked to a Learning Outcome Description of criterion. Edit rating Delete rating. This area will be used by the assessor to leave comments related to this criterion. I'll write free-form comments when assessing students.

Use this rubric for assignment grading. The ill-omened name did not fail to disappoint, and in October , the house caught fire. Much of the library was damaged and some volumes completely destroyed--damage resulted not only from the flames themselves, but also from the water used to extinguish the fire; the Beowulf MS was presumably saved by being thrown from the window, though it is badly burnt along its outer edges see Syd Allan's Ashburnham House Fire page and Andrew Prescott's online article '"Their Present Miserable State of Cremation": The collection finally made its way in into the care of the British Museum, where it was finally provided a much-needed rebinding in August , as well as having its leaves inlaid within heavy sheets of paper--the latter of which, for the most part, halted the loss of letters and words from the crumbling edges of the MS, which had previously suffered this sort of damage continually from the late s until It is unclear exactly when Beowulf began to be studied in post-Saxon times.

Nowell and Cotton may or may not have paid it any attention. The first modern reference to the poem is a brief description by Humfrey Wanley see above who mistakenly described it as a story about Beowulf 'the Dane' who feuded with Swedish princes. In Thorkelin went to England to research Danish heroes in British libraries; coming across Wanley's description, he hired a professional scribe to copy the manuscript the document now known as Thorkelin A and later himself made a copy Thorkelin B. These transciptions are invaluable in that they preserve almost letters which are now lost from the edges of the scorched vellum.

The poem was not printed in its entirety until Thorkelin's edition with facing Latin translation appeared in ; the first complete vernacular translation in Danish of Nicholas Grundtvig appeared in ; and not until did the first complete English translation of John Mitchell Kemble from a family of prominent actors, himself a student of the German linguist, folklorist and political activist Jacob Grimm [of the 'Brothers Grimm']. Innumerable subsequent editions and translations into many languages have appeared since.

Construction of the manuscript: Kiernan suggests that both of these may themselves be composite codices, but here we are concerned with the Nowell codex which contains Beowulf only. This is no place to expound upon the construction of mediaeval manuscripts in detail, but a few basic facts may prove expedient: Single non-folded sheets were sometimes also stitched into these quires gatherings.

As vellum is actually sheep skin, its two sides are not uniform in appearance, with the 'hair' side generally somewhat darker than the 'flesh' side.

Unfortunately, the Ashburnham fire destroyed the majority of the original binding, making the determination of the composition of the codex uncertain. Following Ker, the composition of the Nowell Codex has been assumed to be made up of twelve 4-sheet bifolia, i.

This means that Beowulf begins in the middle of quire 5, suggesting that it was copied along with and at the same time as the three prose texts preceding it. Kiernan has proposed that Beowulf actually begins a new quire and thus that it may well have originally formed its own codex. Kiernan's proposal is as follows 'leaves', in the following table, refer to non-folded single sheets: Beowulf was initially a separate codex[: Some folios containing additions, of x , to the Sherborne Pontifical are in a fine Square minuscule.

No book or charter certainly datable by its contents to after A. On the other hand, the new form of vernacular minuscule [e. The clearest demonstration is provided by the script of annal in the Parker Chronicle, which must date from x '. Square minuscule is likely to have been in use for only a very few years after A. The few manuscripts, like that containing Beowulf , which display contemporaneous writing in these two successive styles of Insular minuscule must therefore have been written very early in the eleventh century.

There is neither evidence nor need to attribute a lingering death to Square minuscule. It is clear that neither manuscript comes from a scriptorium where uniformity of script was enforced or even encouraged, for in both manuscripts scribes with old-fashioned, Square scripts are paired with scribes with more up-to-date, Caroline tendencies.

Scholars have known for over a century about the case of literary borrowing [or, at least, sharing--BMS] between the description of Grendel's mere in Beowulf and St. Paul's vision of Hell in Homily Another difference is that the Blickling scribe was calligraphic, paying attention to details of his letterforms, whereas the Beowulf scribe was almost crudely utilitarian. If both manuscripts derive from the same scriptorium, its one telling uniformity was that it produced books with text faces of the same relative size, even when the rulings vary from lines per page'.

In the Exeter Book on hand wrote all the poetic quires, which have from twenty-one to twenty-three rulings one time the number changes in the middle of a quire. The Vercelli Book is also in one hand, and the number of rulings varies from twenty-four to thirty-three usually each quire has the same number of rulings throughout.

Even Scribe B of the Beowulf manuscript is inconsistent, using twenty-one lines for quires twelve and thirteen, and twenty lines for Judith. Only Junius 11 shows any consistency: Hair and flesh sides often contrast noticeably in color and texture, and the normal insular practice for manuscripts of this period was to place hair sides against hair sides, and flesh sides against flesh sides, to obscure the contrast on facing pages. Our scribes [of the Beo. The same odd mixture of format occurs in the Blickling Homilies as in the Beowulf- manuscript: This shared lack of uniformity, also evident in the ill-matched script, begins to look like a distinctive feature of a particularly provincial scriptorium'.

One of the key issues of the MS, is the status of fol. Julius Zupitza, in his facsimile edition of the manuscript, notes that '[a]ll that is distinct in the [facsimile] in fol.

In the s, Westphalen, on the other hand, identified the 'freshening up' hand as that of the second scribe, but about twenty years later than the original, and the folio itself as a palimpsest. A palimpsest is made, generally, to eradicate an old text in order to provide parchment for a new one. Kiernan, in the early s, proposed that the palimpsest was made by the second scribe himself, in order that he might revise the text. Kiernan attributes the spots of illegibility of the folio to the fact that the vellum was still damp in places when the revision was made, so that the ink did not properly adhere where the parchment was still wet.

The more standard position e. Boyle is that fol. The 'water-damage' theory seems rather unlikely - one would expect damage to other folios as well if that were the case.

The suggestion of Tilman Westphalen and Kiernan that fol. However, Robert Fulk offers a very plausible alternative scenario for the creation of the palimpsest, which is worth quoting at length: Likewise [Leonard Boyle ] states that folio v, the last page of the eleventh quire, is smudged, as if it had been at one time an outside cover--and it is true, in the facsimiles the script all over v looks quite worn in comparison to the preceding pages.

Since the last folio of Beowulf of the wear and soiling it received, if folio was the other cover of the unit, doubtless it was also in bad condition. Perhaps it was grimy as well as worn, and that is why the scribe decided to immerse and scour it.

Of course he did not have to scour the verso side, but perhaps he simply preferred writing the text anew to tracing over the old letters faded by the immersion--a preference he did not later indulge on the last folio when he saw what a ruin this practice had made of Before he washed away the text he must have preserved it somewhere: I suggest he chose the latter course--a natural course, I think, for a short text in Anglo-Saxon times--one is reminded of King Alfred's famous feat of poetic memorization.

This choice explains a great many of the peculiarities of the palimpsest. An experienced scribe would know better than to write on wet vellum, and even an inexperienced scribe would have stopped when he saw the ink begin to run. But a scribe who had committed his irrecoverable exemplar to memory might write on wet vellum, being afraid he would forget the verses before the parchment dried. The same haste would also account for the carelessness that produced the long dittograph.

To begin with, it is not the only folio in the Beowulf MS from which the original text has been deliberately deleted. The first three lines of text on fol. The evidence that the second scribe copied the eleventh gathering last is that he had to squeeze in four extra lines of text, in disregard of the original rulings, on fols. The compression would not have been necessary if the scribe knew he had at least two extra gatherings of unused vellum ahead of him Unless he was compelled to fit the extra material into the eleventh gathering, it is far too early in the copying for the scribe to be worrying about running out of vellum The twelfth and thirteenth gatherings must have been copied already'.

Likewise he had to resort to some extreme abbreviations on the last page of Beowulf , and actually wrote part of the last word on an extra line, in order to make the end of the poem coincide with the end of the quire.

If Scribe A copied the tenth quire after he had begun the eleventh, it is extraordinary that he did not need to resort to such unusual methods to make the text fit'. Metrically, too, the transition between the two folios is defective We can be sure, then, the scribe himself did not think the end of v and the beginning of r fit together And so certainly some material seems to be missing between the two folios, the gap being the result of the dittograph. This ultimately explains the erasure at the top of folio v.

Faced with the realization that the text did not fit, the scribe decided to erase the following page r, and recopy it writing twenty-three lines of text in order to fit in the extra material.

But a better opportunity offered itself in the observation that a mere three lines further, on v, the end of a manuscript line coincided not only with the end of a sentence, but also with the end of an off-verse--a natural break in both the manuscript and the poem. He began to erase the three lines but never finished that job, and so never started erasing r'.

Historical content and historical contexts As stated above, the dates ranging from the sixth century to the early eleventh century have been proposed for the composition of Beowulf. The terminus a quo earliest date has been established by Grundtvig's identification of Hygelac of the poem with the historical figure Chochilaicus, mentioned by Gregory of Tours d. Obviously, the latest possible date for the composition of the poem would be contemporary with the manuscript itself, ca.

Two quotes are illustrative of the arguments for dates at the extreme ends of this span; the first from Clark Hall's introduction to his translation of Stjerna's Essays on Questions connected with the Old English poem of Beowulf: Let us assume also that the statement that Beowulf reigned fifty years is a poetical exaggeration…and give him twenty.

This brings us to A. Very soon after that the Geatic kingdom is conquered and annexed by the Swedes. Here he would be able to sing freely about the last hero of his race, giving the first place to an adventure in Denmark, for some details of which he may have had recourse to local tradition, and, speaking of the Danes, his paymasters for the time being, in flattering terms.

After singing his lays threadbare at the Danish court, he moves on to the territory of the Angels, and finally migrates with members of that tribe to the new El Dorado beyond the sea, which he reaches about A.

A later date, say A. We may note that Clark Hall's theory supposes not only Hygelac, but other characters from Beowulf to be historical as well--which has not been proven to be true. A foreign origin of Beowulf has also been espoused by Thorkelin, who in his edition claimed that the poem was a translation from Danish.

Sarrazin took this a step further, and not only identified the translator as Cynewulf whose 'runic signature' is embedded in some Old English poem, but not Beowulf , but identified the original Danish author as the skald [oral poet] Starkathr, who he placed at the Danish court of King Ingeld at Lejre ca. The famous German metrist Eduard Sievers refuted the notion of a Danish origin on linguistic grounds. In sum, it is blindingly improbable that Beowulf is either a translation of a non-English poem or the work of a non-English poet.

That much, at least, seems clear. Arguing largely from paleographical and codicological grounds, Kevin Kiernan proposes that the extant Beowulf MS was actually the working copy of the poem, and attributes authorship to the two scribes themselves implying that the second scribe may have been the primary director of the project: The aesthetic fusion of these parts does not reflect a dim, romantic view of a non-Anglo-Saxon past, but rather a vivid imaginative response to chilling contemporary events.

The fall of a great and noble hero, and the imminent extinction of the race he ruled, was well understood by this 11th-century Anglo-Saxon who had recently seen the fall of [King] Alfred's house and the subsumption of his homeland in the Danish empire. The second scribe begins to look like "the last survivor of a noble race", while the Beowulf MS, the treasure he continued to polish after the death of his old lord, no longer looks like a reproduction' Kiernan locates the composition of the poem within the reign of King Cnut r.

Cnut's reign was peaceful, especially when compared against the harsh Danish raids which preceded his rule. Kiernan remarks that 'Cnut brought together Danish and Anglo-Saxon culture in the way no petty king of the Danelaw ever could have done' We shall return to examining the different possibilities for the date of the origin of Beowulf , but it is here expedient to observe the import of assigning a date to the poem, as it affects not only our possible interpretations of the 'meaning' or 'purpose' of the poem, but also our view of the relationship between the extant Beowulf MS and the poem itself.

If, for instance, Beowulf was first written down in the 6th century and our extant MS is the result of a long line of copies, made by speakers of different dialects of Old English, then we have much reason for suspecting 'scribal corruption' and thus will suppose more licence to make emendations to the extant text. If, on the other hand, we take the composition of the poem to be contemporary with our extant MS, we will assign more authority to the MS text and feel more wary of emendations.

Similarly, both the date and location we posit for the composition will colour our reading of the poem based on what we know of Anglo-Saxon history.

Navigate Guide

Main Topics

Privacy Policy

Beowulf Essay. English 12 20 March Beowulf: An epic poem Beowulf is the first and best example of Anglo-Saxon or English literature to withstand the test of time. The epic poem of Beowulf was thought to have been written by a Northumbrian monk between the eighth and eleventh century.

Privacy FAQs

Essay on Beowulf is an Epic Hero Words | 6 Pages Epic battles, terrifying monsters, extraordinary strength, and great leadership; these characteristics and encounters are what make up the epic hero that is Beowulf.

About Our Ads

- A Jungian Reading of Beowulf The epic poem, Beowulf, depicts the battles and victories of the Anglo-Saxon warrior Beowulf, over man-eating monsters. The noble defender, Beowulf, constantly fought monsters and beasts to rid the land of evil. Sep 29,  · Beowulf is an epic about a hero who takes on great challenges and adventures. This epic is from the Anglo-Saxon period. The character Beowulf embodies the virtues of the Anglo-Saxon culture and Resolved.

Cookie Info

No one from Anglo-Saxon epos survived to our days has received such widespread recognition as “Beowulf”. This poem is the only major . The epic poem Beowulf describes the most heroic man of the Anglo-Saxon times. The hero, Beowulf, is a seemingly invincible person with all the extraordinary traits required of .