Connotative Diction in Beowulf

The Anglo-Saxon epic poem “Beowulf” is an excellent example of how an author can use connotative diction in order to bring his characters to life for the reader.This poem uses rich and descriptive words and phrases to evoke emotions in the reader towards the main characters.Throughout the novel, the author uses certain words to create strong emotions in the reader towards Beowulf and Grendel.Through his use of connotative diction, the author manages to portray Beowulf as a glorious hero and Grendel as a fearsome monster.

In “The Coming of Grendel,” the author uses strong words to evoke hate and fear in the reader towards Grendel, the antagonist.First he is referred to as “that demon, that fiend…”(pg. 13, line 37) which clearly informs the reader of his role as the antagonist.As the poem progresses the words become stronger and more powerful.The author speaks of Grendel’s “hell forged-hands” (pg. 15, line 91).The word hell evokes the image of the devil and absolute damnation into the reader’s mind, which enhances the image of Grendel as an evil being.

He is also referred to as “that shadow of death….mankind’s enemy”(pg. 15, line 96-101).This reference to death almost brings to mind the grim reaper, which helps to incite fear in the reader.The author’s choice of words helps to form the reader’s opinion of Grendel as a terrifying enemy, not to be reckoned with.Also, by saying mankind’s enemy rather than Hrothgars or Beowulf’s enemy it includes the reader, a member of mankind! , in the fear the main characters feel towards Grendel.

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The connotative diction in the poem also helps the author to portray Grendel as a supernatural being with unknown powers to the reader.Grendel can do things that no mortal could ever accomplish.In “The Battle with Grendel” the author describes Grendel approaching Herot and th…

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