About Beowulf

Hello world and welcome to my first reflection! My name is Miss. Cynical and this is the first page of my learning so lets talk about the first story I had to read in class: Beowulf.

In high school, we had read the comic book version of this story and so when we read it in class the first day, I thought I’d completely understand the assignment and be ahead of the class in terms of knowing what I was reading.

Boy was I wrong!

I realize there is much more hidden in text than there is in pictures, even though, as we learned, art is what closes the gap between feelings and meaning. There was a lot of meaning and beauty in this text. An example of beauty: line 3150-3155 “A Geat woman too sang out in grief/with hair bound up, she unburdened herself/of her worst fears, a wild litany/of nightmare and lament/…/heaven swallowed the smoke”. This really captures what the Geat people must’ve felt watching their warrior king being put to rest whilst fearing what lies ahead.

Aside from the text itself, I want to talk about the discussions we had the forum and on zoom. My most favorite one was about the humanization of the monsters but the dehumanization of Beowulf. I’d always thought about how Grendel’s mother was a bit…not super in the wrong for wanting revenge for her son. Any mother would want to avenge her dead son (this is an assumption). Also someone brought up how her and Grendel were paying for sins that weren’t theirs. Cursed for being descendants of Cain as if it’s what they chose. The dragon was angry he was being looted. Meanwhile Beowulf is just slaying them for the glory and doing over-the-top things past the realistic human capabilities and we’re supposed to not think anything of it. But an interesting point was brought up regarding Grendel’s mother and what she did: While she was avenging her son, she was also defending a serial killer. Grendel murdered many. I didn’t think of that. But I guess most villains exist in a grey area no matter how black and white the story tries to be.

One last point I wanted to talk about was the Christianity. It was weird how mentions of god would just pop up and stand out. I could be skimming the page, barely reading or retaining but the Christian parts would still stand out and feel unnatural a bit despite the translator trying to synchronize it with the paganism displayed in the text. But that’s all I really have to say about that.

I think to close I have one last question to ask: We were told that the Dragon would feel the most human but to me he felt the least human of all. What traits showed that he was the most human of all the monsters?

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