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Sylvia Hernandez


Senior English

7 December 2018

Values in Anglo-Saxon times

The Anglo-Saxon’s combined powers to become one of the bravest civilizations. They

were people who inhabited Great Britain from the fifth century, and they were of high standards

and values. They wrote a story called, Beowulf and it has been continuously passed down. In the

story Beowulf, they incorporate their values and everything they believe in. For example,

Beowulf is a character of great power and respect. He goes on to become one of the greatest

fighters and leader of all time. The Anglo-Saxon’s valued the fearlessness that comes with

bravery, righteousness and glory for fame, and loyalty by honoring your words.

In ‘Beowulf’, the first Anglo-Saxon value that comes to light is the courage to fight and

be fearless, fear vs. bravery. Grendel, the most feared monster of all attacks Hrothgar’s men and

they seek out someone brave and strong enough to fight him off for good. For example, “Now go

to him as you are, in your armor and helmets, but leave your battle shields here, and your spears,

let them lie waiting for the promises your words may make.” (Beowulf 131) They praise upon

Beowulf for he has made it his quest to fight off Grendel for Hrothgar and his men. Beowulf will

fight any threat and enemy but will do so fairly because he knows that he is very powerful. “My

lord Higlac might think less of me if I let my sword go where my feet were afraid to; If I hid

behind some broad linden shield; my hands alone shall fight for me, struggle for life against the

monster.” (Beowulf 169) Beowulf’s only request is that the king let him fight off Grendel

without his swords and shield because Grendel won’t be using any as well. This is an extreme

quest and Beowulf chooses to do this without hiding behind his armor, giving Grendel a fair


Beowulf is successful in defeating Grendel, kills him, and then he goes on to battle

Grendel’s mother as well. Beowulf is very fond of praise and recognition. As the story

progresses, Beowulf is becoming well known and honored for defeating Grendel and his

strength. “Then old and happy rejoiced, turned back from that happy pilgrimage, mounted their

hard hooves, high spirited stallions toward Herot again retelling Beowulf’s bravery as they

jogged along. And over and over they swore that… there was no warrior worthier to rule over

men.” (Beowulf 375) The men praised Beowulf over and over as they headed back to Herot

amazed by his strength and bravery. Beowulf thrives on how much he's accomplished, and he

becomes a very powerful and arrogant leader. “Then the Geats brave prince entered Herot,

covered with glory for the daring battles he had fought, he sought Hrothgar, to salute him and

show Grendel’s head. He carried that terrible trophy by the hair, brought it to were the Danes sat,

drinking, the queen among them. It was a weird and wonderful sight, and the warriors stared…”

(Beowulf 599) He takes Grendel's head to Hrothgar, so he can see for himself what Beowulf has

accomplished. Beowulf’s arrogance and confidence continues to grow as he defeats Grendel’s

mother as well and rules peacefully for 50 years.

At last, Beowulf’s final battle as an old king and the dragon he battled, proved himself

stronger than Beowulf and he felt defeated but kept his confidence in fate. Beowulf spent most of

his life helping others and fighting for them but when his time came, and he needed help, his

soldiers had left him. “- a king before but now a beaten warrior. None of his comrades came to

him, helped him, his brave and noble followers, they ran for their lives, fled deep in a wood. And

only remained, stood there, miserable, remembering, as a good man should, what kinship

meant.” (Beowulf 690) Wiglaf represented the Anglo-Saxon value of honor by honoring his

promise to Beowulf and fighting for him with his life. Another important vale of the Anglo-

Saxon’s is that of pride and honor and following through with your word. “Too few of his

warriors remembered to come when our lord, faced death alone. And now the giving of swords,

of golden rings and riches is over. Ended for you and everyone who shares your blood: When the

brave Geats hear how you bolted and ran… And death would be better for them all and for you,

than the kind of life you can lead, branded with disgrace.” (Beowulf 855) When the soldiers flee

for their lives, this goes against their values and Wiglaf has told them that they are all

disgraceful. Beowulf, betrayed and left to die, says his final request is for Wiglaf to take his title

and for everyone to remember who he was and what he had done.

Beowulf’s men had proved themselves not worthy to hold up to Anglo-Saxon values of

bravery, righteousness, and honor. Although, Beowulf had never turned down a fight and had

fought for everyone and the kingdom he reigned, the soldiers had marked themselves

disgraceful. The Anglo-Saxons believed in might and bravery for praise as did Beowulf. Which

is why he never showed fear, for he believed that he would give up his life, if it was destined for

him by fate. Now a fallen hero, he leaves his riches, chain and title to the only soldier worthy of

it all, Wiglaf. With all the glory and praise he received, he could have saved his own life by

using armor and helping himself. An important message hidden throughout the poem is that

praise, strength and even glory can’t save you from your fate as Beowulf said.

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