Heroism Beowulf Essay

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Grendel attacks the Danes night after night for years, until Beowulf comes to their aid in an epic encounter that literally shakes the Danish hall to its foundations (ll. Grendel’s final incursion into Heorot begins with a bloody assault on one of Beowulf’s sleeping warriors: ’ [‘he had not met in the world, in any corner of the earth, a greater handgrip in another man’], (ll. In a stark reversal, the monster who began the evening feasting on human flesh now finds that his own ‘ Beowulf emerges from this first fight a bona fide hero.

But we’re only a third of the way into the poem, and Grendel was only the start of Beowulf’s monstrous troubles.

Beowulf does his duty, kitted out with weapons and armour that even he seems to know will do him no good: he clearly understood that the forest-wood could not help him, the wooden shield against the flames.

The foremost prince would have to endure the end of his transitory days, his life in the world, and the dragon with him.] Although the three monsters allow Beowulf to prove his heroism in battle, that’s not their only purpose in the poem.

In standing against the dragon, Beowulf also stands against the greed it embodies.

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We can see a similar moral aspect to the first two monsters.The very night after Grendel limps back to his lair, minus one arm, to die in peace, the Danes are attacked again (ll. This time it’s Grendel’s mother, looking for vengeance.Her appearance is similar to Grendel’s, except ‘’ [‘in the likeness of a woman’], (l.Grendel’s mother attacks for one very simple reason: revenge.In a society that’s heavily defined by loyalty and family ties, vengeance poses problems, fuelling violence, destruction and instability. Earlier on I referred to Grendel as an unknown quantity, and that’s the exact threat he poses.is – today – one of the most important surviving works of medieval literature.It is by far the longest Old English poem and – at just over 3,000 lines – preserves about one tenth of surviving English verse from before the Norman Conquest. There isn’t a lot we know about who composed it, or why, or even when.The dragon is a literal threat to the safety of Beowulf’s people, but in the way it behaves it represents a moral danger, too.Earlier in the poem, Hrothgar makes a lengthy speech warning against the dangers of greed (ll.and the monsters at its centre: the monsters are both physical threats to the poem’s humans, and figurative ones as well.They literally kill people – and sometimes eat them – but they also embody the behaviours that threaten to undermine the social fabric that holds human communities together.


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