Friday, February 22, 2019

The second is the exegetical or neoAugustinian

Our practise is a literary analysis of Beowulf that focuses on the literary work further non hi business relationship of the poem. Its going to be research how the story could be viewed as fortitude with the death of the hero. only when at rootage gear we should review critical writings. Two main critical approaches expect dominate the field in the last thirty social classs. The branch is the application to octogenarian side of meat verse of the oral- mixed bagulaic theory that Milman Parry and Albert Lord developed protrude of their study of contemporary South-Slavic oral poetry.1 The second is the exegetical or neoAugustinian form of interpretation associated particularly with the name of D. W. Robertson in the atomic number 18a of medieval position belles-lettres. 2 A major reason for the popularity of the first two theories is that they count to offer structured approaches to a poetry that for m whatever modern reviewers lacks any clear and familiar structure. Imagine for a moment the naive first reactions to Beowulf of a reader hitherto accustomed only to modern literature (i. e. , literature in Modern English, since Shakespeare).such(prenominal) a reader will react quickly and positively to some of the poems descriptions of violent action will celebrate curiously attractive some of the exotic atmosphere of mead-h solely and dragon-mound and whitethorn invite familiar emotions when reading a few highly lyrical theodolites. But surely he or she will find large sections of the poem imaginatively inert slowmoving, redundant, didactic, often simply opaque. Such a reader -I might as well confess that this devils advocate I save in mind is myself at a really early act may wonder why in the world the poet has chosen to unionize his attention where he does.Why does he keep tirelessly making the same(p) points and telling the same kindsof illustrative stories over and over, yet spend so pitifully little time on the literary things we d o been taught to envisage important? On personation, for instance, with its problems of development, complexity, clear motivation on richness of spot in the natural and physical background on informal, natural, and real interactions amongst people on a broad or rounded or ironic view of the world the poet presents.If we judge Beowulf by novelistic standards, it states us a cast of ornately dressed and stuffed (or stuffy) mannequins, always nimble to restate the obvious, acting out rituals as obscure as they are strenuous. The importance of Beowulf in establishing, from a literary-critical viewpoint, the definitive epic style in Old English poetry cannot be exaggerated. Beowulf and the Waldere fragments were held to constitute the only narrative poems in an rare Teutonic dialect that in respect of their scale can be compared with the epics of other lands.3 For closely readers today the epic quality of Beowulf is not in doubt. 4 Since Beowulf was obviously epic, it mustiness iness be an originally orally imperturb suitable poem to which Christian colouring was later added. 5 Now realize more closely at the strange school text of Beowulf. On write pages, written (at least in this sole surviving manuscript) about the year 1000, though probably copied from earlier versions, 6 we find a text largely composed of formulas. A concrete instance may march to illustrate this idea of limitation. That highly conventional beast the dragon is a simple example.If a dragon, a wyrm, a draca, appears in a given passage, we can be sure that the term utilise to it and the actions it performs will all lie well at bottom a small compass of convention. In what follows, the numbers in parentheses indicate my rough count of the formulaic epithets and phrases applied to various aspects of the dragon in Beowulf. The count can only be approximate, since there is much overlapping. It will be noted at at a time that some aspects are copiously, even redundantly, exemplifi ed and restated.Though there is ample variation within each of these tight clusters of patterns, and though this variation indeed forms a owing(p) feature of the style (admittedly genius our novice reader will consider some time to appreciate), the examples of variation never range far out of doors a drasti labely restricted number of fixed bases. We might call these bases normal expectations. Oral poetry as we see it in Beowulf is precisely, nigh forbiddingly, the poetry of normal expectations. They appear in all its patterns.More specific terms for some of these patterns (though my use of terms will lack the rigorous lucidity of definition the theorist demands) include the following epithets habitually attached to characters or objects (ece drihten eternal lord or eald sweord ancient sword, the attri merelyes riveted tight to their nouns) vitrine-characters (the gracious mead-pouring queen Wealhtheow) traditionalistic narrative sequences (voyages, gift-giving, fights) gnom ic assertions of permanent ethical values (swa sceal man fool thus should a man always do) certain heavily symbolic objects (weapons, ships, halls, barrows) tenor settings and props (benches to sit on, cups to drink from) habitual use of contrast to set off and define (the pairing for effect of good Sigemund and wicked here(predicate)mod) certain recognizable emotional tones or military capabilitys ( touting, the elegiac tone), with their avouch characteristic vocabularies. Such a catalogue is only an incomplete outline, and in any case is guessior because it cannot hand over the complicated interweaving of these separate constituents that is so fundamentally typical of the verse.Although medievalists are perfectly familiar with flat type-characters of the kind we find in Beowulf, such characters may present some problem to readers more accustomed to the subtleties of characterization in later literature. Traditional types the venerable and wise old king, the intensely s uffering woman, the hero oddly and remotely wrapped in his sublime violence, the ravening monster from hell, the twisted young king unceremoniously pitch headlong off Fortunes Wheel these types can seem childishly simple. scarce they are indeed the archetypal folk characters of our fairy-tales. Let us first consider the case of Unferth, a character who has constantly been made more interesting than he really is, obsessively rounded by the critics into more complex and pleasing shapes.If Unferth really is a traditional type-character in medieval literature, whence variants of the basic type should answer us find the proper category for him. Some classifications that take away been suggested would label Unferth as Evil Counsellor, or All-Licensed Fool, or Official Court Guest-Tester, or Tolerated Coward (like Sir Kay in some Arthurian tales), or Raw Youth (like the rustic Perceval), perhaps in pauperisation of the guidance of a seasoned warrior-mentor who will polish his mann ers and invoke his courage. Yet Unferth seems to wander across the boundaries between these categories in a misidentify way. He may be some new type live elsewhere, a combination of several types, or even no type at all but a new invention of the poet, though this last is unlikely.The major stumbling block to critics, of course, has been the disparity between the fact, on the one hand, that Unferth is shown not only as failing the explicit test of heroism at the meres edge (1465-71a) but as being sharply condemned by Beowulf (in the heat of the flyting, 581b-94) not only for cowardice but for having killed his own brothers, and the fact, on the other hand, that he evidently retains a place of honor at Hrothgars court and generously lends Beowulf his sword, an act for which the hero warmly thanks him. In terms of the dominant marvelous values of the poem, how can Unferth thus show himself to be both bad and good? Unferth has important role as a spokesman for the community of Dane s. Beowulfs notable tact in his successive parleys with the Danes he met as he made his way to Heorot seemed to be evidence for his own awareness of this potential tension.The Danes must determine whether the Geat is nil but a wandering showoff and braggart, coming fordolgilpe and forwlenco, out of foolish boastfulness and pride. If he is, it would be truly humiliating for them to betray their own desperate need for help by treating such a heroic charlatan with respect. Thus, even if Beowulfs very well-chosen words had placated some of the Danes, it is likely that not all were ready to embrace the visitor. Unferths sharp challenge of Beowulf may thus dramatically reside a psychological need for the Danes as a entirely. At the least, fetching Unferth as the spokesman for many Danes obviates any necessity to explain why they show no disapproval of his challenge to Beowulf. Unferth does not stay around in the hall long enough to be killed by Grendel.But seeing him as one of these b oasters over the ale-cup would explain later references to Unferth as a braggart. We should look upon that we do not ever hear Unferth bragging, though the poet tells us (499-505) that Unferth dislikes earshot any warrior praised as being any better than he is, an attitude consistent with being a braggart. But his only begin tongue, the challenge to Beowulf, is no brag. There Unferth makes the charge that it is Beowulf who is an empty braggart with a low heroic credit rating, whereas Breca, Beowulfs competitor in the swimming-race, is not. Later, when Unferth gives the sword Hrunting to Beowulf to use in the mere-fight, the poet tells us that the Dane does not remember what he had said when he was drunk (1465-68a).What must be referred to here is not the occasion of his attack on Beowulf which we witnessed but some boast we never actually heard (but can infer from Hrothgars description just quoted), since the poets remark is immediately followed by the statement that Unferth hims elf did not dare to risk his own life in the mere. This is not a very distinctive failure. Neither did any other Dane. In this, Unferth at a time again seems only if representative. But only if he had been a marked braggart in the by would his behavior now be considered sorry or even noteworthy. That the poet sees Unferth as representative Dane may, however, find some supernumerary support elsewhere. It should be noted that Beowulf himself takes Unferths attack on him to be a Danish attack, one that requires a counterattack as much against the whole nation as against Unferth individually.In his reply (starting at 581b) he begins by addressing Unferth kinda personally indeed, pointing out that, while he knows evidence that Unferth has killed his own brothers (a serious-minded charge of fratricide later validated by the poet, 1167-68), and perhaps by treachery, if the phrase peah pin wit duge though your wit is keen (589) implies some crafty plotting, there is even more sensa tional evidence, twelve whole years of it, that Unferth has not been giving Grendel any trouble whatsoever. But Beowulf then moves on at once to broaden the charge to include all Danes. Eower leode (596) is a plural really addressed over Unferths head to the listening Danes, and it is followed by the plural terms Sigescyldinga, leode Deniga, Gardenum.None of these people, though they may not be brother-slayers, have ever given Grendel any trouble either. It will take a Geat to do that. Unferth is then a symbol of national rather than merely private inadequacy. The closing lines of Beowulfs reply modulate out of mockery and into reassurance. Here Unferth may well stand for the Everydane who, the hero promises, will be able to go happy and safe to his morning mead in Heorot next day, after Grendel has been taken out of the way. But before we speak further of comradeship, we must deal with Beowulfs devastating assertion that Unferth will be damned for cleanup spot his brothers. The r emark is made in the context of a Germanic flyting or word-battle.Unferths challenge follows close on a long boasting speech by Beowulf (407-55) and Hrothgars description of the failure of the Danish hall-boasters to survive their encounters with Grendel. This combination of speeches sets up a testing situation. If the Danes many boasts about defeating Grendel could never be carried out, and if Beowulfs boast about beating Breca in the swimming-contest could never be carried out, why then should anyone expect that the heros present boast offers any promise of fulfillment? Such is the gist of Unferths speech, but its tone is even more important. It is full of the mocking terms of hot heroic competitiveness wunne struggled ymb sund flite competed in swimming he ? e ? t sunde oferflat he beat you at swimming h? fde mare m? gen he had greater strength.All this language is couched to stir the quick anger of any proud and touchy rival. Even though brother-slaying can be viewed as a terri ble crime, as it certainly is by Beowulf when he wants to be accusatory, it can also be mentioned rather neutrally and casually, as I debate is done here. Unferths virtue of great courage or spirit is in the main clause, and he is granted amnesty for fratricide in the rate clause. Critics have not generally accepted this particular subordination of importance, but I see no reason not to take this passage as straightforward and without any bitter irony, even though the poet himself may be more critical of Unferths murderous past than the Danes seem to be.But this does not mean that the text here contains a patronizing allusion to the Danes lamentable and cabalistic blindness to Unferths real and rotten nature it merely shows that they are not presently engaged in a flyting with him. A flyting would be the suspend occasion to dredge up and bring forth such bits of past scandal, but the duration of a flyting is limited and time-bound. Yet, though Unferth is thoroughly crush in the flyting and proved to be inferior to Beowulf in heroic achievement, he does not seem to be especially humiliated in this scene, partially because the poets eye is, as always, on Beowulfs greatness and partly because Unferth as a Dane must accept the evidence that only a nearsupernatural hero could have made any mark on Grendel.The Danes would much rather have saved their own great hall themselves but plainly they could not. So now they cheerfully set to work restoring Heorot to order (991 ff. ), and, though nothing is said about it, one would not be entirely surprise to hear that Unferth was turning to and joining in the task. If then we see the rivalry between Unferth and Beowulf as coming to a full stop here, it seems most unlikely that Unferths later loan of a sword to Beowulf for the fight with Grendels mother is to be construed as a reopening of hostilities, or as a spiteful act reflecting ill-feeling and resentment. It has been surmised that Unferth might know Hrunting to b e a defective weapon. 7

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