Mead Hall in Beowulf


Hrothgar’s glittering mead hall is known as Heorot and can be called as “the wonder of the world.” Heorot is the largest mead hall in the world and thus it shows the prosperity of the then Anglo-saxon society under Hrothgar’s realm. Hrothgar’s excellent kingly qualities, his might and valor are manifested through this great mead hall. This is a major setting of the poem where the main hero Beowulf fights with the first antagonist and also receives his reward from this place. The word Heorot translated into modern English means “hart” which means a male deer. A deer is a majestic and animated animal that represents life. But a male deer is always vulnerable to a victim of men’s hunting. So this can be easily interpreted that by this name the writer has just foreshadowed that Heorot will be attacked by the “grim demon” Grendel soon and he will make a feast by killing the innocent people sleeping in it.

When all the work of building this vast hall is completed, Hrothgar distributes gold among the Thanes as he is a ring giver. Neville depicts, “Hrothgar’s establishment of kingdom is a reenactment of God’s establishment of his kingdom to the earth”. Moreover, Hrothgar’s bards sing a song about God’s creation of earth. In addition, the vast building is used as a diplomatic and political headquarter to administer justice, to plan battles and to entertain the people of the Anglo-Saxon period in Hrothgar’s era. The mead hall is the symbol of society, social amusement and gathering. In this place people gather to have feast, to socialize and listen to the songs of bards. As Grendel, the captain of evil, is a demon from Cain’s clan, the sound of rejoicing people disturbs him so he attacks the vast hall out of jealousy. This place is meant to be the source of light but when Grendel attacks it, it is engulfed by darkness. Then the hero Beowulf comes there to fight with evil and triumph over darkness. Heorot is a symbol of Hrothgar’s power and the unity of Danes. But when the unity of Danes will be destroyed, the Heorot will also be destroyed. Heorot will be destroyed because of a feud between son-in-law and father-in -law and it will be a feud between the Danes and Hetho-bards.

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