The Old English epic sonnet Beowulf utilizes a distinctively Germanic style of verse in which the quantity of solid beats per line is what matters. Rather than tallying syllables, solid beats alone were tallied. There were precisely four such solid beats for each line every time, and there was consistently a caesura between every two pairs. These solid beats may have made it simpler for the pre-educated poets to recite the extremely long poem. As our dialect developed rapidly in vocabulary through the amalgamation of Romance terms, numerous of which with styles that completely differ to Old English, we additionally started to embrace a more Romantic style of creating literature work. This raises the query of how Old English poetry would be written in the modern day, specifically if Beowulf had been written as a tale of a modern 21st-century superhero, how and why might it differ?
The traits and qualities that a hero possess are often influenced by the context of which the hero is made around, often based on specific cultures, languages, ideas, and societies. Beowulf is frequently alluded to as the first imperative literature piece in English history, despite the fact that it was composed in Old English, an antiquated form of dialect that gradually developed into English we now know. Therefore, as a result, present-day English is formed of many origins, thus making its vocabulary rich with synonyms. In the epic poem, Beowulf, the protagonist is perceived to be a hero. Beowulf, an agnostic warrior and the protagonist of the poem, demonstrates certain qualities a hero would possess, such as but not limited; to courage, steadfastness, and liberality, all of which depict him to be a hero. Present day heroes, seen in various forms of literature amongst us, possess similar indistinguishable qualities as Beowulf.
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When the word ‘hero’ is read or heard many individuals have different perceptions of what is meant, similarly the Anglo-Saxons also had a particular perspective of what a hero was meant to be like. Beowulf, an epic hero, is essentially a creation of what the Anglo-Saxons believed a hero should embody; somebody who is prideful, willing to go up against the hardest of deeds and battle the most grounded of beasts, and more often than not had superpowers. By analysing the possibility of bravery and heroism in the poem Beowulf, one can perceive how the idea and perception of a hero then are similar to what we have established to be the idea of a current modern-day hero. Beowulf’s biggest fault would be his constant desire and mission to lift his reputation and triumph.
These hero-like qualities are emphasized in the poem when he says, “As I can, no strength is a match for mine”. Anglo-Saxon legends like Beowulf often have some sort of special ability. Here Beowulf demonstrates that by needing to battle the abhorrent creature, Grendel, with his own hands. A modern superhero would often also possess such extraordinary abilities. While it won’t be unadulterated quality, someone like Martin Luther King had the ability bring together a group of people to work for a greater cause. Beowulf likewise displays the characteristics of a modern hero when he “accused himself of breaking God’s law, of bringing the Almighty’s anger down on his people” Beowulf’s activities aided many individuals throughout the 300-word poem – similar to that of when modern-day heroes perform actions to save and aid many people. Gandhi, a man considered by numerous a hero, liberated India from the British.
In any case, there is a distinction amongst Beowulf and his current modern counterparts and it is something that addresses the distinctions in our different cultures. In the ‘Anatomy of Criticism’ by Northrop Frye, the five types of heroism are highlighted;
The vast majority of our heroes are categorized under the initial three types, however, Beowulf falls under the second. Type one expresses that “the hero is introduced as celestial, above both man and their surroundings” – legends like Superman would fall under this class for we can never imitate what he can do. Type two states that “the hero is still above most common men, however, is just marginally over the confinements of the earth”, these particular ones can be injured and even beat- Heroes that fall under this classification are Batman, Iron Man and Beowulf. It is the type two individuals that appear to draw the most interest since they fall between the narrow line of nature and humankind. They are made to be over the span of men by a small margin. While we know we can never really be these superheroes, they are sufficiently similar to us to giving us a sense of false hope and vulnerability, however again, there is still a distinction between them. While Beowulf and modern-day heroes, such as Batman, one of them becomes older as time progresses and unavoidably passes away, the other apparently never ages.
During a time where pharmaceuticals and medical advancements can extend one’s life expectancy, dying isn’t often the number one concern on our mind. The idea of immortality as depicted by superheroes in embedded into our minds at a very young age given us the sense of invincibility as well as power. No matter the context heroes were created due to the fact that we are in need of them, heroes offer us hope, encouragement and can be perceived as a model for how one should carry on with their own particular life.
This is the significant contrast between Beowulf and the heroes portrayed today, it is the key distinction between our way of life today and the way of life of Beowulf’s makers. All through the story, Beowulf is continually making references to the forthcoming of death while Batman turns out a seemingly endless amount of time not having matured a day. In a period where everybody must be prepared to battle, it was normal to make a hero figure who himself must be capable of death. In the Old English days, the biggest concern of humans was the whole idea of one day ‘kicking the bucket’. The key factor if Beowulf were written in the modern day would be the assurance of the ‘no aging factor’ presented by the heroes depicted around us today. The criteria an individual must meet today to be a hero has differed. The criteria will likewise keep on changing as the English Language and world around us continue to develop.