Beowulf And I Is An Other Metaphor Essay

Length: 3 pages Sources: 2 Subject: Mythology - Religion Type: Essay Paper: #82439214 Related Topics: Beowulf Grendel, Metaphor, Thanksgiving, Other
Excerpt from Essay :

Beowulf and I is an Other

Metaphor in Beowulf and I is an Other

James Geary states that "metaphor grounds even the most abstract ideas in the physiological facts of our bodies" (96). This is nowhere more true than in the medieval epic Beowulf, which uses fantastic physiological feats of strength and body to illustrate the abstract principles of virtue and nobility in the epic's hero. This paper will provide a metaphorical comparison between Beowulf and Geary's I is an Other and show how physiology is used to bring metaphor (and the underlying abstract principles) to life.

The hero of Beowulf is described as being superhuman in terms of bodily strength. Beowulf has powerful lungs and is able to hold his breath for impossible lengths of time while underwater. He can swim great distances and hold his own in hand to hand combat with the ferocious monster Grendel, who eats ordinary human beings as though they were bite-sized snacks. Beowulf, on the other hand, has extraordinary strength and is able to rip off the arm of Grendel. He is as strong, if not stronger, than the enemy. Beowulf is "lord of the seamen" and the "Geatish hero" and is hailed for his feats of daring, just as Grendel is feared for his feats of ferocity.

Of his enemy, Beowulf says, "No battle skill has he" (11.20) that can shatter Beowulf's shield, and the metaphor is apparent: Grendel is inferior to Beowulf in terms of fighting the "good fight." Beowulf's armor is as great as his virtue, which cannot be corrupted by evil influences. Grendel is the description of metaphor supports this claim: "Through a process of metaphorical association, the physical profoundly impacts the psychological, and vice versa" (Geary 96). Thus, Beowulf's hearers and watchers are profoundly influenced by the greatness with which he engages the enemy -- man-to-man, without fear, and on the heels of other great deeds which are related to the king before Beowulf is given the green light to fight.

All of the speeches, too, are part of the ritual of metaphor. Geary states, "Many of the gestures that occur during talk seem to be derived from embodied conceptual metaphors" (110). During the speeches in which Beowulf announces himself and shares stories of his greatness, a cup of wine is passed around and Beowulf is invited to drink, as God is praised and thanked for having sent such a hero. The thanksgiving compliments the idea that they are at a kind of banquet-style setting, all gathered together in the great hall or assembly. "To keep away Grendel, the Glory of Kings had given a hall-watch" (11.4-5). The embodiment of that hall-watch is Beowulf, who has been watching for the opportunity to do battle with Grendel, from a great distance,…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited

Beowulf. (trans. Leslie Hall). NY: DC Heath and Co., 2005. Print.

Geary, James. I is an Other. NY: Harper, 2011. Print.


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