Thursday, February 3, 2011

Letter to my friend -- Thursday's Blog on Beowulf

Dear friend Hermund,

I am writing to you in a most glorious and cheerful time for me and my country. Beowulf has just defeated our great enemy Grendel! I have learned much these past few days and have found the joy in God. My interests have shifted since Beowulf sailed across the seas to join my country in our fight against the evil monster we faced. I can confide in no one but you, dear friend and I hope you will respect my confessions.

I have changed for the better, I believe. Murdering my brother was evil, horrible, and ghastly; the wrong spirit guided me. I believe I was listening to the devil try and convince me to do things that were not right. My mind was unclear and for that I am so very sorry and regretful. It has been a few weeks now that I have begun to see the light. Now, since Beowulf’s arrival, I have totally turned towards it.

Beowulf came here to defeat Grendel. Jealousy overcame my body and upon his arrival, I greeted him with nasty words. For I was the king's second hand man and I could see my reputation slowly falling because of our new visitor. I did not believe he could defeat this mighty monster and so with a mean spirited heart I explained to him what I saw as his future, “No matter, therefore, how you may have fared in every bout and battle until now, this time you’ll be worsted; no one has ever outlasted an entire night against Grendel”. (37) This is no way to speak to a legendary hero and fellow protector of his peoples. Beowulf responded with “The fact is, Unferth, if you were truly as keen or courageous as you claim to be Grendel would never have got away with such unchecked atrocity…” among other things. (41) I quickly realized I was no match for this man both giant in stature and in heart. I could have either fought this man, or backed down to his so very true words. I chose the latter, in hopes to becoming a better man.

To show this Beowulf how greatly I appreciated him, I instinctively gave him my sword, Hrunting. “It had never failed the hand of anyone who hefted it in battle, anyone who had fought and faced the worst in the gap of danger”. (101) I figured this would provide Beowulf with the best tools to kill that vicious monster and his kin. There, at that moment, I gave up my reputation and honored name to a man who was better at the fight than I. There was no comparison and this was my way of telling him how I knew that to be true.

Before entering the treacherous river, Beowulf made a speech. He said I was to “have what [he] inherited” (103) and bestowed upon me his sword! God must have been watching over me, for this was a moment to remember. Beowulf, the defeater of Grendel and all things evil, provided me with his “sharp-honed, wave-sheened wonderblade”. (103) I was able to see the good in everything.

I pledge to you, greatest confidant of mine, that God is now in my corner and I am forever faithful to him and his kingdom. Beowulf has shown me how to be a better man and to have a full life. I have changed for the better, I hope you can see. This world is now full of light and I will never return to my old ways again.



1 comment:

  1. There are two important things I like here.

    #1) You aren't just repeating or rewording material from the poem. You're actually extrapolating from it - developing Unferth's character, making an argument for him as a legitimately changed man.

    #2) You use details of the poem well.

    What I would like to see developed is a little more complicated to pin down.

    Basically, you explain that Unferth is a changed man, and you give his motives, but there is no sense of just how *hard* it must be for him. This is a man who was defined by battle - yet just backed down from a fight. This was a dangerous, murderous, possibly treacherous man (he killed his brothers!), who yet has seen the light. This is a big, big change, and big changes need to be earned and justified. You aren't doing so yet.

    How to do it? My initial suggestion is to attack from two angles - make Unferth reflect not only on his encounter with Beowulf but on how he murdered his brother(s) (which you'd need to invent). Surely it's Beowulf's bold confrontation with him over the subject of that murder that changes his mind - what's missing is *how* that happens. That would be one clear way of explaining and elaborating how he's able to change so much.

    I like this as a start, and another thing I like is that there are obvious directions to develop it in.