The epic poem Beowulf, written in Old English by Christian monks around 750 AD, is a wonderful adventure story about a warrior who kills ferocious monsters. The use of description and imagery enlivens the story, making it possible for a reader to really see in his or her mind the characters and events. Metaphors and exaggeration are both devices that together allow the reader to experience this poem which is quite different than most other poetry.
A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase that rdinarily means one thing is applied to another thing to suggest a likeness between the two. Metaphors are used extensively throughout the poem to paint a more colorful picture in the listener’s mind. Exaggeration is another device to make Beowulf a more interesting, entertaining, and dramatic poem. For example, even though this story is a fantasy, it is hard to believe that the character of Beowulf would be able to kill a monster like Grendel with his bare hands.
Exaggerating Beowulf’s bravery makes the story more exciting. Metaphors and exaggerations both help in developing vivid descriptions and imagery to entertain and beautifully tell the story of Beowulf. In comparison to our modern fiction, Beowulf might seem wordy and lengthy but when a reader takes time to savor the graphic descriptions, vivid imagery, and fantastic exaggerations one can understand how this thirteen hundred-year-old epic poem has lasted through the years.