The reader should not forget that this was originally a performance and not
a piece of literature. It is described as an epic poem derived from the Greek ‘epos’, which means oration, song.
The worth of any such epic was the use of language and the skill at
performing the story to the audience. This epic poem has all the standard ingredients, including a heroic character in the form of Beowulf who performs superhuman deeds, championing good against evil.
There is a distinct code of honor between Beowulf and the other dignitaries
and Thanes, and the poet provides us with an in-depth study of this society’s code of behavior.
There are various themes running through this poem and this will be covered
in the Questions section.
It is obvious that some alterations were made to the original poem by the
Christian scribes who produced the 1010 manuscript, and although they emphasize the Christian values throughout this tale, probably as an act of propaganda, none of the atmosphere concerning the Pagan society of
Northern Europe at this time has been lost.
‘Beowulf’ has stood the test of time because of its universal popularity and
appeal, and will remain a key piece of early English literature for many centuries to come.