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The Tale Of Finn And It’s Correlation To Beowulf Essay, Research Paper

In the poem Beowulf there are many ways in which the digressions exhibit a correlated foreshadowing and similarity to Beowulf’s personal adventures as a single, heroic, entity. The similarities in wording and plot are remarkable. One such, indicative parallel is manifested between Beowulf’s ordeal with the dragon and the digression titled “The Tale of Finn”. To illustrate the foreshadowing one must see the parallels between the burial ceremonies of Beowulf and Hnaef, the similarities between Hnaef’s scattering warriors and Beowulf’s cowardly recruits. Also the dispositions of loyalty that Hengest, Finn’s follower and Beowulf’s loving recruit, Wiglaf so willingly unveiled, along with the easy relationship of the dragon’s actions in Beowulf and the tribal feuds that occur in “The Tale of Finn”.

The burial ceremonies for ” the best warrior / of Scylding race ” (1108 – 1109), Hnaef and “Hygelac’s brave kinsman” (758), Beowulf display close resemblance’s to each other. For example, both Beowulf and Hnaef were proudly burnt in “the greatest of corpse-fires” (1120), which are also known as pyres. A pyre is a gigantic fire that is made for the respectful cremation of a recently deceased and loved person. The trappings of both pyres were relatively the same for the two warriors of the Scyld’s. Beowulf and Hnaef were “gold clad” (1112) and adorned with “shining mail-coats and shields of war” (3139). It is a good thing for one to remember that, the outcomes and general plots of the poem, Beowulf, would already be known to the original listeners as they were a part of the history that created the poem.

As the blood feuds progressed within “The Tale of Finn”, there is a hint of desertion, “their valor was no more. / The warriors then scattered and went to their homes ” (1124 – 1125). Michael Alexander’s use of the word “scattered” (1125) leads one to the conclusion, that the warriors left out of fear or cowardice; rather, than the similar translation that “the warriors then [spread away from each other] and went to their homes” (1124-1125). This foreshadows the same cowardice that proved to be true for Beowulf’s comrades during his final battle; from the mouth of Wiglaf, “those traitors and weaklings / that did not dare display their spears” (2848-2849). Beowulf’s own, handpicked recruits deserted him in his time of need.

True loyalty is displayed in the same manner in both Beowulf’s battle with the dragon and “The Tale of Finn”. The brave Wiglaf shows this loyalty during Beowulf’s struggle. The honorable Wiglaf uttered a battle urge and spoke to Beowulf, saying proudly “I shall help you” (2665) this was after all of the rest of Beowulf’s twelve other recruits had left him for dead. All the while, Wiglaf proudly fought on beside his “ring-bestower” (3012). In “The Tale of Finn” (p. 85), Hengest stayed with his master during the feuds. Showing his loyalty, while his comrades “scattered and went to their homes” (1125).

One could even show similarity between the dragon’s actions in Beowulf and the feuds of the ancient tribes in “The Tale of Finn”. The end result of the feuds was bloodshed and “blazing fire, / most insatiable of spirits” (1122-1123). The dragon breaths “blazing fire”(1122) and acts as a “hoard-guard” (2554) and “most insatiable [of] spirits”. The finality of both the dragon and Finn are the same. Finn is destroyed Guthlaf and Oslaf (followers of Hnaef) and his treasures were taken to Geat lands. Beowulf and Wiglaf deal death to the dragon and its treasures are taken for the Geat’s. In both cases a king dies so that the Geat people can enhance their lively hood.

It is possible that these similarities and obvious foreshadows were brought about because Beowulf, as a character is the culmination of every hero within the digressions. The original orators of the poem must have used this culmination to make it easier for listeners to remember. If it was shown that there are numerous pieces of evidence to bring together Beowulf, as a “touch and go” character then many of the correlation’s between the actual history in the poetic fairytale of Beowulf could be seen. The meaning of “touch and go” is that the story of Beowulf represents a specific point in history and that point, is filled with many different heroes. At any separate time Beowulf, under these restrictions would represent a different hero whose story was pushed on to a more phantasmal one that is sung in praise of quasi-historical study to be sent down along the generations to the modern day translation of Beowulf.

Works Cited

Beowulf. Trans, Michael Alexander. London: Penguin, 1973


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