Beowulf, the Tragic Hero In the epic poem “Beowulf” the protagonist, Beowulf, portrays a tragic hero in a variety of ways. Although Beowulf was not a perfect being, he embraces….
Literature Analysis of the Epic Poem Beowulf
Bri Beowulf Imagery Beowulf is an intense and suspenseful epic poem and what makes it worth reading is the use of imagery. What would the world be like without imagery? Imagery is used in everything read today. Books, magazines, even the backs of movie cases. The world of reading would be different without imagery. And Burton Raffel made sure that Beowulf was full of said imagery, especially during the first, second, and third climaxes of the poem. In Beowulf, the imagery for the first climax is full of surprise, violence and suspense.
The suspense starts when Grendel snatches up the first Geat he sees and tears him apart. Imagery is used to intensify Grendel’s actions by tenfold. For example, “Grendel snatched at the first Geat/ he came to, ripped him apart, cut/ his body to bits with powerful jaws,/ drank his blood from his veins and bolted/ him down, hands and feet/ (line 739, page 46). Without that gruesome and violent imagery, Grendel would seem meek and boring. But that only begins the suspense and violence of the first climax. Imagery is greatly used when Beowulf and Grendel battle to the death.
Beowulf fought Grendel and he “fastened those claws in his fists till they cracked,” (line 760, page 47) which shows that Beowulf was a strong entity and without the imagery, we wouldn’t quite grasp how inhumanly strong Beowulf was. Herot trembled while they battled which gives us the interpretation that the battle was intense and if Burton Raffel had not incorporated that bit in the story, we wouldn’t understand how extreme the battle between the two foes was. Lastly, imagery is used to show Grendel’s death.
For example, “He twisted in pain/ And the bleeding sinews deep in his shoulder snapped, muscle and bone split/ And broke,” (line 815, page 480) which just proves that without the imagery during his death, Grendel would have died a very non descriptive and utterly unimportant death. Without imagery, the first climax would be dull, lifeless, and not in the least bit suspenseful. Not only is there imagery in the first climax, but it is also present in the second climax as well. With Grendel dead, it leaves Grendel’s’ mum in a fit of despair and rage so she travels to Herot to avenge Grendel’s death.
The imagery is violent and animalistic. For example, “Smashing their shining swords, their bloody/ Hammer-forged blades onto boar-shaped helmets,/ Slashing and stabbing with the sharpest of points,” (line 1285, page 64) shows the Geats preparing to kill Grendel’s mum, but she ends up victimizing Hrothgar’s closest friend who was “sheltered in her dripping claws,” (line 1295, page 64). The mental image that this climax contains renders the fact that if there was no present imagery, Grendel’s mum would not have an important character line.
She would just be a mother that missed her child, not a blood thirsty, venomous monster that captured an important person. The imagery for the second climax was just as well done as the first one and it exceeded in creating a violent and suspenseful atmosphere. And now, here is the imagery for the final climax. In this climax, a dragon entered the scene and brought imagery along with it. For example, “Vomiting fire and smoke, the dragon/ Burned down their homes. They watched in horror/ As the flames rose up: the angry monster/ Meant to leave nothing alive.
And the signs/ Of its anger flickered and glowed in the darkness, visible for miles, tokens of its hate/ And its cruelty, spread like a warning to the Geats who had broken its rest. ” (line 2312, page 95) This part of the poem shows us the dragon’s rage and its ill conclusion to burn down everything in its path. Without this wonderful and descriptive segment, the dragon would just be another creature and would pose no threat. But with this imagery, the dragon is depicted as a horrible monster that thirsts for terror and chaos.
Not only does the dragon cause chaos, but it’s actually the cause of Beowulf’s departure to the world. A tusk wound to Beowulf’s neck seals his fate. The imagery for Beowulf’s fatal wound is dreadful and gruesome. “Watching for its chance it drove its tusk/ Into Beowulf’s neck; he staggered, the blood/ Came flooding forth, fell like rain,” (line 2691, page 106). This imagery is what makes this poem the successful composition it is today. As written above, during the first, second, and third climaxes of the poem, imagery was the key ingredient to making a delicious cake.
The world without imagery would be a bland, plain, and unexciting place to live. Books would be full of sentences only approved by preschoolers and they wouldn’t be as enjoyable as they are today. Burton Raffel did a mesmerizing job with captivating the readers of Beowulf with scenes of despair, gore, hope, and faith. Raffel couldn’t have done a better job. “And so Beowulf’s followers/ Rode, mourning their beloved leader,/ Crying that no better king had ever/ Lived, no prince so mild, no man/ So open to his people, so deserving of praise. ”