Beowulf Research Paper

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Beowulf’s place in the British Canon has been the focus of much debate for the past century. Critics of Beowulf argue that it does not thoroughly represent its time period because the epic poem was written two hundred years after its events actually took place. Conversely, this “flaw” gives valuable insight into the religion and social norms of not one, but two distinct periods in British history. Moreover, Beowulf contains excellent examples of early British literary devices such as kennings and alliteration. These examples outline the earliest stages British literature's evolution. Furthermore, Beowulf was written in Old English, an earlier form of the language spoken in Britain today. Beowulf gives readers a vivid glimpse into the origin and history of their language. Ultimately, Beowulf's ability to reveal historical information about the time period, language, and literature qualify Beowulf to be…show more content…
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, “Beowulf is the oldest surviving Germanic epic and the longest Old English poem.” Accordingly, out of the few examples of Old English literature known today, it could easily be argued that Beowulf is the best representative of Old English literature as a whole. Since Beowulf was written in Old English, it can also be used as a powerful tool for comparing Modern and Old English. A reader can easily note the similarities in the two languages by cross examining the text with a Modern English translation. For example, the spelling of “inn under eorðweal” (3090) closely resembles its Modern English translation, “under the earthwall” (Heaney 3090). The similarities are profound and intriguing, as they relate one of today's most important languages to its origins. Summarily, the Old English aspect of Beowulf helps readers compare and make generalizations about the history of their

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