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Beowulf RLLP Analysis

Beowulf is a story reciting many similar accounts to older classic novels. It aligns pretty
well with familiar archetypes and contains many commonly used symbols and components of
literature. In How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster we are presented
these common themes, archetypes, and symbols that recur throughout time and we can find in
Beowulf. In chapters 5 Now Where Have I Seen Her Before?, 13 Its All Political, 14 Yes,
Shes a Christ Figure, Too, and 25 Dont Read with Your Eyes we learn more ways to analyze
Beowulf and find connections with historical literature, politics, Christ figures, and metaphors.
In chapter 5 Now Where Have I Seen Her Before? Foster writes that there is no
completely original piece of literature and that there is only one story. All stories are related to
one another and use ideas from previous works. Foster mentions that from Beowulf came the
story of Grendel. We can see that Beowulf is a hero figure who journeys from home and fights a
battle. That is similar to Odysseus when he leaves Ithaca. Beowulf supposedly has the strength of
30 men in each arm, and his superior strength matches to the common superhuman strength of
super heroes such as Superman or Thor. When Beowulf fights Grendels mother, he has more of
a difficult time fighting her than Grendel because she is seeking justice while Grendel kills
innocent men. I connect this to Harry Potter when Voldemort tries to kill Harry, but cannot
because of the strength of his mothers love, and yet kills all of the other people standing in his
way who happen to be very capable opponents.
In chapter 13 Its All Political Foster suggests that almost all literature includes a
political or social message. He admits that not all works are obvious as political but still have
something very subtle. We can see a political connection in Beowulf with the debt that Beowulf
repays to Hrothgar for his father by killing Grendel. That keeps positive relations between the

two tribes. The warriors in battle can also be political because two groups are fighting each other
for power and the men use their physical strength as power as well. The strongest warrior is
usually a political leader. In addition, politics is also intertwined with the banquet scene. The
warriors eating together symbolize communion and unity. This could be used as a political
strategy to keep peace if necessary. Another political situation is when two people of different
areas marry to unite their tribes such as the marriage between Onela of the and was very
common in history.
Chapter 14 Yes, Shes a Christ Figure, Too is about Christian biblical symbols. Foster
first gives a list of the common perception of Christ and then notes the qualifications that could
indicate when a character is a Christ figure. Just because he uses She in the title of the chapter,
he definitely does not mean that the Christ figure must be female. The main Christ figure we see
in Beowulf is Beowulf. He is unmarried and self sacrificing. He never shows much love interest
or interest in women and does not have children. He goes off to fight for other people and
sacrifices himself when going to fight the dragon. It is also incredible that Beowulf has the
strength of 30 men in each arm and somehow swims down to Grendels mothers underwater
cave. Another minor symbol could be Hrothgars wife Wealhtheow, who serves the men in Herot
with a chalice of mead. This is similar to the Christian tradition where Jesus or the church leader
serves wine.
In Chapter 25, Foster advises readers Dont Read with Your Eyes. He continues by
suggesting that readers consider the time and historical background of a piece. This changes the
meaning of literature. He wants readers to see beyond the words to understand a characters
feelings. He also notes that older literature will of course be harder to connect to. Reading
Beowulf takes some understanding of Anglo-Saxon culture and the warrior code, but past the

literal meaning, there is much more depth that can describe the culture and background. It
reveals meaning between people and the warrior code, biblical allusions, and other topics not
explicitly stated because they are taboo.
I also want to point out a connection in chapter 3 Nice to Eat You. Foster talks about
the symbolism of vampires and ghosts, sucking life out of people and bringing a looming
darkness around. Grendel literally eats humans because he is envious and does not like the noise
they make in the hall.
Chapters 5, 13, 14, and 25 display most of the common archetypes found in Beowulf.
Beowulf heavily relates to classic literature such as The Iliad and provides common ground to
modern literature. Additionally, the warrior and tribal systems both lend to political cultures with
proof from the constant battling between tribes and between leaders for the throne. Commonly
placed allusions found in Beowulf refer to Christian practices and provide insight to the type of
people from the Anglo-Saxon culture.