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Beowulf scene essay

Beowulf and Modern America

Works Cited

Beowulf and Modern America
Many people who read the poem Beowulf would probably find it hard to find similarities between the poem and life in modern America. How could one compare an ancient Anglo-Saxon culture with the sophisticated world that we are living in today? But, if we look closely, we may be able to pinpoint some parallel between the two societies. This essay will discuss the topics of warrior life, the “bad guy,” and social similarities. One might wonder how a warrior culture might be similar to our own? But if we consider American culture, we are actually still very war-like. We have a strong military system built to protect our country and the people that make it up. We are also known for going to the aid of other countries that aren’t able to defend themselves. This is very similar to the mentality of the warriors in Beowulf. Beowulf comes to the aid of Hrothgar’s falling kingdom.

Another similarity between the two cultures that some people may see in the most recent times is the idea of the bad guy or “monster.” Today Americans are trying to deal with having to watch out for terrorists and being scared of the evil plots of others. But many Americans are also having trouble accepting the idea that the “monster” is really the bad guy. There have been anti-war protests because people are not so sure who the bad guy is. In Beowulf, I felt that same idea. Even though Grendel is doing bad things, I don’t think that he is so different from the humans. He is killing people for his own reasons, which is the same attitude I saw in Beowulf. Grendel is jealous of the humans and his inability to be like them causes him to kill those same people he envies. Murders are acts of revenge in some cases in the story such as the death of Aeschere by Grendel’s mother for her son’s death. Killing occurs in the story for very simple or petty motives.

There is also a social similarity in the cultures. There is the same idea of people coming together to relax and talk while drinking alcohol. Many times the alcohol can lead to negative conversations. This can be seen in Beowulf. Unferth says to Beowulf, “Are you that Beowulf who contended with Breca, competed in swimming on the broad sea, where for pride you explored the water, and for foolish boast ventured lives in the deep?”(Norton 11) He is trying to put Beowulf down here, and I’m sure the alcohol made it easier for him to say what it is he is thinking. In Beowulf, the mead hall is a hub for this type of social interaction, a way to relax from the pressures of the warrior life. This is very similar to American society now. Bars and similar establishments have replaced the mead halls, but the overall purpose is still the same. Now people are taking time to relieve stress from their work and family pressures through socializing and drinking alcoholic beverages.

When the two cultures are examined closely we see they have not so much changed as they have evolved. This is seen in the fact that many of the same ideas and customs are still being used today. As the years progress, I’m sure that future cultures will still have some of the same basic ideologies because it seems that human nature doesn’t seem to change very much even with the passing of hundreds of years.

Work Cited

Howe, Nicholas, Ed. Beowulf. New York: Norton, 2002

By Jessica Hartgrove