Beowulf point of view essay

As the “fabulous powers of beowulf point of view essay heirloom failed,” Beowulf was forced to discard it. Therefore, emphasis is strongly placed on the exchange of weapons of war.

Weapons such as swords circulated through Anglo-Saxon society as inheritance through family, birthed through the monsters, found under magic rocks, and as rewards between lords and their subjects. Occasionally such exchange was also seen between warriors. One example of a weapon as a gift is seen in the exchange of Hrunting. Beowulf, he admits the loss of his glory, and his submission to this greater warrior. Hrunting’s various meanings demonstrate that weapons of war can carry not only positive, but also negative, significance.

Unferth’s very act of giving Hrunting to Beowulf and the sword’s unexpected failure in the battle against Grendel’s mother bear much symbolism in the poem. In this light, the giving of the sword seems to be an indication of Unferth’s recognition of Beowulf as a capable and powerful warrior. It is possible then that Unferth’s motive in giving away his sword upon being confronted with the problem of Grendel’s mother could very well be to avoid going into battle. The passing of Hrunting from Unferth’s hand to Beowulf is therefore a reflection of Unferth’s treachery as he abandons his role as a warrior of Heorot. At first glance, Unferth’s sudden act of generosity towards Beowulf appears to have been done for noble reasons.

The reason behind Hrunting’s failing against Grendel’s Mother has been a point of much scholarly debate. Unferth deliberately gave Beowulf a sword that he knew would fail, possibly for the purpose of preventing Beowulf from succeeding where Unferth himself failed. Yet this point has been contested by J. A Oglivy, who notes that the poem itself offers another explanation. First, Oglivy notes that if Unferth supplied an inferior weapon then it doesn’t follow for the poet to have gone into extensive detail about the magical infallibility of the sword. Grendel’s line possesses magical invulnerability that prevents weapons made by man from harming them. Unferth would not have expected it to fail.

Another explanation that has been put forth connects Hrunting’s failure to the broader underlying message of Christianity prevalent throughout the poem. Hrunting fails because it was given to Beowulf by Unferth, a heathen. Only the more powerful replacement blade that God gives Beowulf is capable of destroying evil. According to Gould, “the message would be clear enough to the poem’s Christian audience: only God can contribute enough power to overcome enemies to whom the poem has elsewhere given a Scriptural history. Grendel and Grendel’s mother have such a history, as Grendel’s lineage is described in lines 106-108 to have descended from Cain.