Of Monsters and Men: A Reading of Beowulf and Wonders of the East College

In the late 700’s, the Vikings began their raids in England. Their excursions first targeted monasteries on the coast and slowly spread across the nation until the English and Nordic cultures blended into one. The history of the invasion is well documented in historical texts and letters written by the monks in the monasteries, and through allegorical fiction written by intellectuals of the time. However, the melding of the Anglo-Saxons and the Vikings was anything but peaceful and smooth; it was fraught with animosity, prejudice, and hate. In Wonders of the East and the Beowulf manuscript, the English portray foreign people as monsters on account of their different cultures and beliefs, as well as of fear of the unknown knowledge that they represent. In Beowulf, the feelings of fear develop into feelings of hate and the author attacks the Vikings by representing them, collectively, as Grendel. Wonders of the East portrays foreign people as monsters; however, it is not a blunt attack on a specific group of people, even though it does convey a feeling of unease and distrust for the ‘monstrous’ things.

The author of Wonders of the East provides detailed and strange descriptions of the different monsters that have been encountered...

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