Similarly, the reader is only able to get a substantially sketchy picture of what Beowulf’s true feelings are.The reason for this is because the purpose of the epic poem is to illustrate to its people the characteristics they are to emulate in their own lives.By all means, the writer must avoid repeating phrases used in the poem.
is – today – one of the most important surviving works of medieval literature.
It is by far the longest Old English poem and – at just over 3,000 lines – preserves about one tenth of surviving English verse from before the Norman Conquest. There isn’t a lot we know about who composed it, or why, or even when.
This will entice the reader to want to read more of the poem, in addition to teaching him how to critique a poem.
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On the other hand, the poem presents very few features of Beowulf as a regular human being.
It is obvious that the poet has chosen to largely ignore Beowulf’s human aspects, and instead, depicts him as a superhuman hero.
So, to understand this ancient poem, we need first to understand its monsters.
First up is Grendel: in many ways an unknown quantity.
There is only one surviving copy from the whole of the medieval period – the manuscript now known as British Library Cotton MS Vitellius A XV.
By ‘irrelevancies’, Ker means the three monster fights that make up most of the action.