Every work of art is an accurate picture of society. The picture of social life given to us in Beowulf is essentially primitive: fighting valorously, eating and drinking well, being soothed by music after the daily labor, and then – hitting the bed to sleep.
The men described in the poem, Beowulf, are men of words, brave, and loyal where their affections are concerned, but crucial and implacable otherwise. There is no gaiety about them. Life to them is a somber business. The melancholy of the north is about them.
The Court Life And The Scenic Background in Beowulf
Critical emphasis is laid upon the splendor of Beowulf’s court life. Thus critics have commented on its historical value as a picture of aristocratic society in Saxon times.
The scenic background is well suited for such men. It is black and cold, and the rough and rugged land is swept by storms, whether on sea or land.
Nature is always in her blackest and fiercest moods. There is no sentiment, no tenderness to relieve the gloom; fierce animal spirits dominate.
Nevertheless, if somber, there is an austere grandeur about the poem and a tire social resignation. The scenes and people are Scandinavian.
Beowulf And Anglo-Saxon People Being Fierce in The Poem
The one great, vital figure is that of Beowulf. As the early English ideal of virtue, courage, and nobility, he represents what Achilles is to the Greek, Romulus to the Roman, Charlemagne to the French, and Beowulf to the Englishman.
Hence, from a closer study of Beowulf, we sense a conception of courtly life and a warrior society mirror in it.
From Beowulf, we find that the Anglo-Saxons were fierce sea rovers. They lived on the very shore of the Baltic and the North Sea. They had to live fighting against the relentless forces of nature. They were a hardworking race. They were tall, savage, and wild.
The Affection between The King And His Followers in Beowulf
In Beowulf’s society, the king occupied the most pivotal position. He had lords, thanes, and a band of attendants. All his followers were loyal and faithful to the king.
The people fought for the king. The king, in return, protected the warriors and often presented them after victory with rings and jewels, swords, and horses.
The king was a friend to his followers and people. He had the shield to protect them from danger and had a big heart to love them.
The Court Consists of Qualified Occupants in Beowulf
The king also had counselors who helped him give wise suggestions and sound advice. Beowulf was an ideal king and was the most beloved and mildest. He loved his men as dearly as his heart.
The king’s court included a herald, a spokesman, a chamberlain, a cupbearer, and a band of minstrels. The court had its usual pomp and grandeur.
The court ceremonies, feasting, and drinking were the daily features of the court. It was where the king bestowed gifts, honors, and favors. Here, the worthy received their dues.
Tribal Feuds Impacted Society Violently in Beowulf
Feuds amongst the relatives and bitter tribal fights often shook the society violently. The commitment to murder was considered a great sin, but the revenge motive was powerful.
Blood feuds like these broke out between Horthuff, the nephew of Hrothgar, and the latter’s son.
Women’s Honor, War, And Intellectual Pleasures in Beowulf
Women were of a very high position in society. They often entertained the fighters with drinks and honored them with presents. For example, the win of Hrothgar accorded a grand ovation to Beowulf when he returned after the victory.
War was considered as the chief occupation, whereas cowardice was vehemently condemned. However, they had a sense of beauty and a love for art.
The hall of Heorot was embroidered with gold and hung with tapestry. Intellectual pleasure also consisted of singing dirges in honor of the dead souls.
The Anglo-Saxons in Beowulf Honored Courage And Law
The Anglo-Saxons hated cowardice and prized honor above all things. They welcomed fighting for it and offered themselves the chance of showing the feat of courage. They believed that courageous death for noble deeds would open the gates of heaven to them.
However, they were the most law-abiding citizens. The cardinal principles of their philosophy of life included a few aspects: senses of the nothingness of life, the inevitability of death, the inexorability of fate, and the futility of human variety.
Considering all these statements stated above, we may conclude that Anglo-Saxon life had some unique features. Beowulf is reflected in courtly life. It is full of war. It is also evident that Beowulf is a heroic life and death story.