The poem contains two examples of mead-halls: Hrothgar’s great hall of Heorot, in Denmark, and Hygelac’s hall in Geatland. Both function as important cultural institutions that provide light and warmth, food and drink, and singing and revelry. Historically, the mead-hall represented a safe haven for warriors returning from battle, a small zone of refuge within a dangerous and precarious external world that continuously offered the threat of attack by neighboring peoples. The mead-hall was also a place of community, where traditions were preserved, loyalty was rewarded, and, perhaps most important, stories were told and reputations were spread.
The theme of loyalty reflects the values of the characters in the story. It is important to note that loyalty stands out as a guiding virtue in Beowulf’s poem. Because of his loyalty to his king, Beowulf saved the country, Hrothgar, and his people. In comparison to other men in the country, Beowulf’s loyalty stands out because every time Hrothgar the king was in trouble, he gave himself wholly without any reward expectation or ascend to the throne. This loyalty arises from the fact that the King protected his father earlier in the years; hence his obligation was to pay for the protection of his father’s life through loyalty. Upon the death of the King, Beowulf does not take up the role of kingship even when offered by the queen of the land. Beowulf forsakes the throne and instead opts to crown and serve the young king with loyalty. It is only after the death of the young king that Beowulf takes up the seat of Kingship having demonstrated loyalty to his people.
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