The Purpose of Digression in Beowulf

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Essay #: 053539
Total text length is 11,821 characters (approximately 8.2 pages).

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The Purpose of Digression in Beowulf
Beowulf is packed with many so-called digressions that at first glance may appear to be extraneous to the narrative. Upon closer examination, the digressions are used to establish motifs, open new pathways of understanding to the culture of the people as well as the era, create greater levels of dynamic tension in the narrative, and increase the scope of the tale from that of one man -Beowulf into a tale of all men.
An historical context of digression aids in the understanding of its usage in Beowulf. Marcus Fabius Quintilianus (ca. 35 – ca. 100), a Roman rhetorician, established the importance of digression, by stating that...
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.....e narrative from a simple tale of action, into a sweeping heroic epic. The tension created as the protagonist Beowulf performs his heroic actions within a context made richer through digression allows Beowulf to be a magnificent, noble epic that lives, breathes and fights. Through digression, the poem gathers gravity and becomes a testament to the ages.
Works Cited
"Beowulf ." University of Virginia Library. 13 Aug. 2009 <http://etext.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/AnoBeow.html>.
Lindemans, Micha F.. "Balder." Encyclopedia Mythica: mythology, folklore, and religion.. 13 Aug. 2009 <http://www.pantheon.org/articles/b/balder.html>.
The Norton Anthology of English Literature (Single-Volume 8th Edition). New York: W. W. Norton, 2006.