The representation of father-son type relationships in early Medieval literary works
is a key theme early authors used to give their works more depth and meaning. Two works that use the theme of father-son relationships are Beowulf and The Song of Roland. In Beowulf, the relationship between Hrothgar and Beowulf is one in which there is no actual blood father-son tie, but the two characters take on all the characteristics of a real father son relationship. Hrothgar, although Beowulf's senior, has to rely on this new warrior who comes to Heorot to help him rid his kingdom of a great danger which he can not get rid of by himself, and Hrothgar treats him as if he were his own son. In The Song of Roland, Charles' relationship with his nephew Roland also takes on the characteristics of a father-son type relationship. In this work, although Charles is the better warrior than Roland, he relies on Roland to watch the rear guard of his army and Roland loses his life while serving his King.
The significance of these inter-generational relationships will be looked at in this paper, as well as what the authors through the guise of these father-son relationships were trying to say about various different aspects of life during their time.
In Beowulf, the function of the relationship between Hrothgar and Beowulf helps to further the plot in several ways. Whenever there is a reliance on family in any literary work, it gives any story more meaning and significance. When Beowulf first arrives in Hrothgars' hall, we get a sense of the old and incapable state Hrothgar is in 'old and gray-haired among the guard of earls' (Beowulf, pg. 62) is how he is first described. When hearing who Beowulf's father is he states...