The epic poem Beowulf tells of an evil, mysterious, and ravishing creature named Grendel. Although no precise concrete descriptions or visual references were given to me throughout the story, I was able to formulate my own personal opinion of what this horrifying beast may have looked like. The amoral, despised, and feared Grendel was a colossal, muscular beast capable of ripping any human man to shreds. His razor sharp teeth and pointy horns were ideal for tearing and gnawing unsuspecting inebriated men that slept through the night in Herot Hall.
His muscular build, extensive thorny tail, and mammoth size were also key factors that struck fear in the hearts of anyone who had heard about or saw this vile creature. After a long and worrisome night, the awaking Hrothgar, king of the Danes, would more than likely be greeted with the remnants of Danish warriors that had spent their last night in glittering, golden towers of Herot Hall. Grendel, pleased with his midnight feeding, would have already retreated back to the moor under the misty hills from which the savage beast had come.
Grendel lived with his mother in an cave under a mucky, sickening, horrifying swamp. As I have depicted in my drawing, the towering beast has awoken from his slumber and is preparing to step into the murky waters of the swamp to begin his perilous journey to the surface. Once he arrived at the top, the blood thirsty walker of darkness would again be on his way to indulging in more human flesh.
This gruesome immoral act took place for more than 12 long years, until ultimately one night Grendel encountered his inevitable fate when he was confronted by the eminent warrior Beowulf! ving a terrible monster, a brave warrior, a happy ending and some moral to the story. Beowulf ending wasn’t extremely positive though because of the fact that Beowulf died. He was an old man though, and his time had come.
He did though kill the dragon, so it wasn’t entirely unhappy. Throughout the story there is the message of how fickle life can be. Beowulf stressed the mutability of life. One minute your up, the other your down. You can never predict what life might throw you, so always be weary. This holds true even today. When the story was written, life was very dangerous.
You could easily be killed by the elements, or in battle, or by sickness. Today, one still has to fear illness, and even the elements. Beowulf shows his courage and his fighting ability as a young warrior, but in the end of the poem, at an old age, he again shows his courage by attacking the dragon who eventually takes his life. At the time he is about to attack the dragon, Beowulf says, “In my youth I engaged in many wars. Old guardian of the people, I shall still seek battle, perform a deed of fame, if the evil-doer will come to me out of the earth-hall. ” (Norton, 59.
Beowulf’s successor is Wiglaf. Wiglaf is the young warrior who sticks by Beowulf’s side while he fights with the dragon. Wiglaf is very similar to Beowulf in that he is also courageous and is humble. He is very courageous and shows his courage when he tries to help Beowulf attack the dragon. When he did face the dragon, he knew he wasn’t going to come out alive. “With glory denied him. He knew it, but he raised his sword”(228) He was an old man and had done everything he had wanted to do. His life had been a complete one and death would be a welcome overpass.
How can one who has long completed his journey in success be a failure? Beowulf defeated Grendel. Beowulf defeated Grendel’s mother. Beowulf became King of the Geats. Beowulf lived for fifty years in peace. Beowulf defeated the dragon. Beowulf died a man of honor, loved and respected by his people. He was a noble leader and lived the life of a King. His body was defeated on earth, but his soul and spirit lived on for many years to follow. Beowulf was not a failure. he grows older and rules over his kingdom, he is faced with no real challenges, until a dragon in his kingdom is disturbed.
With only one man standing behind him to rally against the dragon, he goes on to fight this fateful battle. This step is extremely ignorant: as an old man, there is no way to defeat the dragon and survive. As king, he has a duty to serve his people, and by challenging a fire breathing dragon, it is doubtful that he will come out victorious. This move is extremely pigheaded, because Beowulf does not have an heir to his throne and he will leave his kingdom without a leader. This act of Beowulf’s shows excessive pride.
Beowulf does put up a good struggle and defeats the dragon, but by doing this he also kills himself and any real leader that Geatland had, and leaves the country in chaos. It seems as though through the entire tale of the heoric Geat, he never learned anything; he never really made a transition in character Grendel is decidedly evil because he was spawned in that slime, conceived by a pair of those monsters born of Cain, murderous creatures banished by God, (20-23). Thus his mother is also of the same origin. The dragon as well is a great evil, whose breath [was] burning hot, poison [poured] from his tongue, (672-673).
The three battles are fought at different times of Beowulfs life, to symbolize the perpetual war men fight against evil. Beowulf previously fights various evils: [He] fought that beasts last battle,(290) Huge sea-monsters [he] killed,(308) Hunting monstersand killing them one by one,(56-158). Later Beowulf battles with Grendel, and meant to hold the monster till its life leaped out, knowing the fiend was no use. (473-474) Beowulf then fights the mother of his former archenemy, Grendel, at the bottom of heaving [waters] (571) in her terrible home. 65)
Beowulfs final fight is against the dragon that breathed murderous flames. (732) The three battles propose to the reader the reoccurring battle against evil. However, the epic makes it clear that the battle isnt easily won. Beowulf struggles with Grendels mother. He was weary(619) and even his sword failed. In sheer desperation Beowulf manages to win, only by luck that a heavy sword the best of all weapons, was readily available. Without its help, Beowulf in his fight against evil would have surely lost.
Beowulf would not have killed the dragon in his last battle if it were not for Wiglaf. Together they triumphed over evil. Because Beowulf doesnt succeed solely, it is deducted that the fight against evil is won through teamwork. The concept of teamwork to succeed is universal, in that it is represented through religion. In Judaism, it takes ten or a minion to have valid prayer. In Christianity, all is encouraged to attend church to have unified prayer. The epic incorporates the universal concept of cooperation, thus adding to Beowulfs appeal.
Beowulf fights all three main battles, thereby representing good, battling the ever-constant bad; Monsters, creatures of the unknown, symbols of evil from eras of the past, and for centuries to come. These symbols of evil are valid at any time, thus validating Beowulfs universality. Mythical human ideals of invincibility and bravery are commingled with realistic attributes of failure and age in Beowulf to create a timeless appeal to all audiences. Bravery and strength characterize the protagonist, Beowulf. Strong Beowulf survived the sea, smashed the monsters hot jaws, swam home from [his] journey,(311).
Beowulf has tremendous strength, which is an idealistic quality of most humans, past and present. Beowulf, who has a tight hard grip, (447), would most likely appeal to Romans as well as nowaday men who watch Monday night football to enjoy pure physical strength. Invincible in his youth, Beowulf fought multitudes of sea-monsters. Beowulf however, never drowns, though laden in armor and mail, and seems to be invincible. Nevertheless, Beowulf falls victim to age. Beowulf in his final battle must lean on younger arms. (776-778) In other words, Beowulf can no longer fend for himself solely.
He needs the help of at least another to conquer evil. This represents the belief of strength in number; men uniting will overcome. The change in his boasts reflects his age. Before his battle against Grendel he said, therell be nothing to mourn over, no corpse to prepare for its grave, (180-181). In his age however, he says to his men, Wait for me (after the battle) we shall see who will survive this bloody battle,(679-681). Beowulf, invincible in his youth, fails ultimately; his soul left his flesh, flew to glory, (827-828).
His failure in his final battle against evil creates a mixture of realism and myth, thereby instituting timeless appeal. Beowulf will impact generations to come as it has affected past generations, because of its timeless and ageless elements of characterization, theme, and plot. Beowulf has an incorporation of timeless spiritualism that can accommodate an array of beliefs and, has ageless components of good vs. evil, and human ideals. Beowulf sets a universal precedent of timeless literature. Beowulf, like few other literary works, is ancient, but has not, and will not lose its appeal or audience.