Beowulf

Literary Devices Allegories Pagan Elements

PAGAN ELEMENTS
‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ Beowulf's funeral ship The observance of omens The practice of cremation Gold/wealth as a hero¶s reward Ancient warrior society ± the thane and his lord Boasting Lack of belief in an after-life ± pagan immortality Concept of fate ± wyrd Monsters

Literary Devices
‡ Literary devices refers to specific aspects of literature, in the sense of its universal function as an art form which expresses ideas through language, which we can recognize, identify, interpret and/or analyze.

Epithet
‡ A combination of a descriptive phrase and a noun. ‡ An epithet is usually an adjective or a brief phrase used to characterize a person, place, or thing.
god-cursed Grendel ring ± giving lord

‡ An epithet presents a miniature portrait that identifies a person or thing by highlighting a prominent characteristic of that person or thing. Lord of all life, Ruler of glory«.
shelterer of warriors

Kenning
Compound expression, often hyphenated, representing a single noun. For example, the Old English epic Beowulf uses the two-word term whale-road to refer to the sea or ocean. A literary device in which a noun is renamed in a creative way using a compound word or union of two separate words to combine ideas .
whale-road for sea, sea-wood for ship, shield-bearer for warrior, battle-spoil for treasure, ring-nets for chain mail, sword-draught for a sword swallowing the blood of an enemy, and twilight-spoiler for dragon. A kenning is a form of metaphor and are similar to the epithet.

Alliteration
Repeated consonant sounds at the beginning of words placed near each other, usually on the same or adjacent lines.
Hear me! We¶ve heard of Danish Heroes

How Shild* made slaves of soldiers from everyland the poet¶s clear songs, sung

Simile
A direct comparison of two unlike things using ³like´ or ³as.´
The ship foamed through the sea like a bird A brilliant light burned all around him, the lake itself like a fiery flame. where mist steams like black clouds«

Hyperbole
An outrageous exaggeration used for effect. «. reach higher toward Heaven than anything that had ever been known to the sons of men.

Allusion
References in a work of literature to a well-known person, place, event, written work, or work of art.

Beowulf contains numerous biblical allusions. For example, Grendel is described as an offspring of Cain.

Allegory
A representation of an abstract or spiritual meaning. Often, it is a symbolic narrative that has not only a literal meaning, but a larger one understood only after reading the entire story or poem.
Beowulf is also, in very many ways, allegorical. An allegory is ³A story in which the characters, settings, and events stand for abstract or moral concepts´ Just looking at the three creatures Bewoulf defeats may help show how the poem can be read allegorically: Grendel stands for the monstrous features of fratricide; consider that he is born of Cain (who is known for killing his brother). The Geats, Danes, and Swedes, were in many ways brothers, but they were also at war. Grendel s mother may stand for the root of (or mother of) evil. Dragons often represent greed. They horde treasure and become violent if the treasure is touched

Foreshadowing
The use of hints or clues to prepare readers for events to come.
The funeral of Shield Sheafson, with which the poem opens, foreshadows Beowulf¶s funeral at the poem¶s end.

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