Beowulf is a Germanic Heroic poem which is believed to have been composed by an anonymous poet between the 17th to the 18th centuries. The 3,000 line poem was set in Scandinavia. It gives a detailed accounts of the extraordinary deeds of the heroic Beowulf who did all he could to rise to the throne of the Scandinavian kingdom. This paper looks the use of stylistic devices in Beowulf
To begin with, there is the use of metaphor as one of the main stylistic devices in this poem. This is one of the most common devices employed by poets in the pursuit of delivering their message to the readers. It refers to the use of a figurative language which portrays an imaginary image in the mind of the reader. Beowulf has a lot of metaphors which are used in nearly all the major sections. Some of the most notable examples are seen when the poet says the following:
Beowulf tears Grendel’s arms before he runs to his home to die.
The monster kills so many people when they were asleep.
Monster was killed and buried in a mound of grave beside the sea shore.
The king, his wife Wealhpeow spent time singing and celebrating.
The use of metaphor in the above lines indicates how the poet was concerned about a proper delivery of his theme in a clear manner that would be deeply made up by the readers. This is because metaphor is a device which creates a visual image in the reader. As a result, it creates a visual presentation in their minds thus enabling them to understand the message and follow the poem as the various events unfold. There is a sense of reality which is realized by the reader if such an image is created. It makes the message deeply sink into their minds and learn to follow it up until it ends.
Secondly, there is an extensive use of symbolism as one of the stylistic devices in this poem. This simply refers to the use of language or characters with certain meanings as far as the poem is concerned. Symbolism, if used in such a literary work, puts the reader in a better position to link the objects used in the poem to the context in which it was composed. Since this was a Germanic heroic poem, it was inevitably paramount that the composer incorporates imageries which would create a symbol synonymous to the context in which it was written. Some of the major symbolisms used in this poem include the following:
There are three types of funerals used in this poem. These were conducted at different times for Scyld Scefing, Hildeburg’s kin and Beowulf. The burial of these people were symbolically used to present various kinds of ordeals which different people would undergo in this kingdom. At the same time, it signified the end of individuals and dynasties which were at times believed to be unlimited. For instance, Scyld Scefing who had been a very strong king of Danes dies from an invasion. In this case, his burial is used to symbolize the end of his life and regime which had been characterized by lots of blissful life. On the other hand, the death of Beowulf signifies the mortal life of human being on this earth. It simply indicates that everyone can not perpetually live on this earth regardless of their strengths and achievements. If Beowulf, a very strong extraordinary man who performed lots of heroic deeds died, no one can escape the unforgiving wrath of death. This is how the monster, its mother and the dragon were all wiped out of existence.
In addition, there is a use of characterization in this poem. The poet, in his composition, used lots of characters with distinct roles to play in it. Those who made remarkable contributions include Beowulf as the protagonist, the monster, the monster’s mother, the dragon, Grendel, Wiglaf, and the king. Each of these had a specific tie with at least one of them. This kind of closeness clearly brought up a relationship amongst all of them. Hence, it would be easier to trace their relations and keenly follow the kinds of activities they were involved in. First and foremost, Beowulf is shown as the main character who is a very extraordinary person. He has extremely strong confidence and strength which he uses to protect the king from his aggressors. Because of this, he manages to kills the monster and a dragon both of whom were believed to be having super natural powers. This not only grants hi respect, but also strengthens his relationship with the king, his family and the larger community until he later became a king. The other character who properly used his closeness to the king is Wiglaf. As a confidant, he offered to risk his life to rally behind the king to help him get rid of the dragon at a time when no one was willing to support him. This indicated a true friendship which can be beneficial particularly during crisis. May be it is because of his intervention that Beowulf managed to kill the powerful dragon.
Consequently, the other stylistic device used in Beowulf is hyperbole. This means the use of exaggeration in the explanation of various sections of the poem. Having read the poem, I realized that the composer had used lots of exaggerations particularly when explaining the mysterious strengths of the main character. For instance, he says that Beowulf beat all the odds to do what normal men can not imagine of doing. He boldly eliminated the monster, its mother and the dragon. These were supernatural creatures with extraordinary strengths which no human being could challenge. Typically, nobody can kill a demon or beast. However, he managed to kill them without even using a weapon. I am strongly convinced that this is factious and can not take place in a real life situation. Possibly, it had been employed as a special style to make the poem more interesting and more appealing.
Last, but by no means the least, there is the use of alliteration. Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of different words in the same verse. As already highlighted, Beowulf is a very long poem with lots of words. Some of the alliterations identified in the poem include the following:
Beowulf and their men track Grendel’s mother; Beowulf then returns to the surface and to his men in the ninth floor; meant to be a wonder of the beyond the mere and the marshes.
These were not used by coincidence, but were purposely meant for making the poem more rhythmic. Thus, they would make it more interesting and appealing to any reader. As a result, the message will be passed much comfortably.
I would like conclude by agreeing with the fact that Beowulf is rich in imageries, sound and other figurative devices. These were tactfully used in order to make the poem be more realistic, sensible, rhythmical, interesting and educative. This makes Beowulf, a very old poem be a must read to many people even centuries after its composition. I would like to say that this has made it be more enjoyable than any other piece of literary work.