Kategorie: Angličtina (celkem: 879 referátů a seminárek)

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  • Přidal/a: anonymous
  • Datum přidání: 05. července 2007
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Relationships between Beowulf, Hygelac and Hrothgar in “Beowulf”

The heroic poem “Beowulf” is the oldest preserved story in English literature. Although its exact date of composing is not completely clear, the poem was supposedly written in the tenth century, although according to some scholars, it might have been composed even in the eighth century by an anonymous writer (21). The poem itself is written in English and it has also an English origin, however, it does not deal with native Englishmen, but with their Germanic forebears, in particular with two south Scandinavian tribes, the Danes and the Geats, ruled by Hrothgar and Hygelac, respectively. The main hero of the story is Beowulf, Hygelac’s thane and nephew, who due to his brave deeds exemplifies the traits of the perfect hero. Since these three characters are unique in their way of thinking and acting, the relationship between them is peculiar as well, and it is affected by several factors. Firstly, Beowulf, the perfect warrior, treats not only his king Hygelac with a great amount of respect, but also Hrothgar, the king of Danes. Secondly, Hrothgar, a wise ruler, aids Beowulf’s development into maturity, which makes their relationship bound. Finally, the relationship between the two kings, Hygelac and Hrothgar, is rather reserved.
In the war society described in “Beowulf”, the values of which the poem constantly invokes, the most important of human relationships was that which existed between the warrior and his lord. This relationship was based less on subordination of one man’s will to another’s than on mutual trust and respect. Beowulf, the thane of Hygelac, showed respect not only to his king, but he threated Hrothgar, as his own lord as well. Having heard the news about Grendel and his dreadful acts in Heorot, Beowulf decides to help the people of Danes which documents his brave character. He fights for the nation as it was his own, and before
the fight with Grendel’s mother, he actually asks Hrothgar to protect his retainers if he was killed “Be guardian of my young retainers, my companions, if battle should take me” (46). However, Beowulf kept being loyal also to his king. After the battles in Heorot, he expresses a great desire to see Hygelac again “Now we sea-travelers come from afar wish to say that we desire to seek Hygelac” (50).

Hygelac is also the only person to whom Beowulf wishes to give the treasure which he had received as a reward for his courageous deeds.
Due to the wisdom and experiences of Hrothgar, the relationship between him and Beowulf becomes rather unique in the poem. Although he is as solidly rooted in the heroic code as Beowulf is, his old age and his experience with both good and ill fortune have caused him to develop a more reflective attitude toward heroism than Beowulf possesses. He is aware of both the privileges and the dangers of power, and he warns Beowulf not to give in to pride and always to remember that blessings may turn to grief. This is expressed in the statement: “Now for a time there is glory in your might: yet soon it shall be that sickness or sword will diminish your strength, or fire’s fangs, or flood’s surge; brightness of eyes will fail and grow dark; then it shall be that death will overcome you, warrior” (49). His wise words has a great impact on Beowulf, who regards Hrothgar as his father figure, saying “You would always be in a father’s place for me when I am gone” (46). Although the relationship between the two kings, Hygelac and Hrothgar, is not explicitly presented in the story, Hygelac’s attitude towards the king of Danes is rather reserved, since he might feel a sort of rivalry between himself and Hrothgar. This becomes clear from the following statement: “I entreated you long that you should in no way approach the murderous spirit, should let the South-Danes themselves settle the war with Grendel” (53). His constrained character could also be observed from his doubts about Beowulf’s success in the fights, as expressed in “Had no trust in the venture of my beloved man” (52).
Due to the individuality of all three characters, the relationship between Beowulf, Hygelac and Hrothgar is rather special. Beowulf, the perfect character, makes no distinguishing in treating the both kings with a same amount of respect, which makes his relationship with Hrothgar bound. Hygelac’s relationship towards Hrothgar however remains restrained, since he considers the king of Danes more a rival than an ally. Since all three characters are unique personalities, their way of thinking, acting and treating each other is different as well, which makes their relationships individual.

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