The Battle Against Good And Evil In Beowulf

1507 Words 7 Pages
Beowulf survives as one of the oldest poems in world literature. Originally written in Old English, the story of the long poem focuses on the epic and tragic hero, Beowulf. More specifically, the poem focuses on the three major battles the warrior fights. Each battle increases in difficulty while also testing different aspects and skills of Beowulf himself. While Beowulf’s three battles maintain the universal theme of the ongoing fight against good and evil, they also reveal attributes of Beowulf himself and, ultimately, his character development throughout the poem. The fight against Grendel appears as the first battle Beowulf encounters in the poem. This battle against the descendant of Cain ultimately tests and portrays Beowulf’s physical …show more content…
With this sense of invincibility along with Beowulf’s combat skills, the fight against Grendel is a sure victory. Additionally, Beowulf has much motivation to win, as King Hrothgar told him, “There’s nothing you wish for that won’t be yours if you win through alive” (660-661). As the actual fight begins to take place, readers clearly see how this fight is a battle against good and evil through the imagery, as Grendel is described as a demonic creature “greedily loping” and “hunting for prey” (711-713). In contrast, the hall, which Grendel terrorizes, is a hall of celebration where men rest, sleep, and eat. When Grendel comes to attack the hall, a “baleful light/ flared from his eyes” (726-727). This imagery foreshadows and symbolizes that the good, Beowulf, will overcome the dark/evil, Grendel (GradeSaver). It is also important to note that this battle is also a religious battle for Beowulf. The poem mentions several times the demonic nature of Grendel, emphasizing that he is an outcast by God Himself. The battle is purely physical as Beowulf fought with no weapons or armor, relying exclusively on his strength, because Grendel “had conjured the …show more content…
When the dragon awakes, Beowulf has been ruling as king of the Geats for fifty years. His days of reckless youth have passed, but Beowulf maintains his love of glory, declaring, “Now, I am old, but as king of the people I shall pursue this fight for the glory of winning…” (2512-2515). Beowulf is fully aware that this may be his last battle, and he knows that this will be the hardest challenge he will face. With courage, Beowulf dresses himself in armor, equips himself with weapons, and brings 14 other men with him for help. However, Beowulf’s armor fails to protect him like his armor in the fight against Grendel’s mother. This failure represents that unlike Beowulf’s other two battles, the fight against the dragon is not just a physical fight; instead, this fight tests one’s true courage and bravery ("ENG 283E: Our Premodern Epics: The Three Battles in Beowulf"). In literature, a dragon represents the epitome of evil, and, by nature, is the enemy of humanity ("Dragon - New World Encyclopedia"). Fighting a dragon is more than just a fight against evil, but a fight against all humanly fears. Only those with true courage have the ability to fight such a creature. While Beowulf possesses such courage and bravery, his age has deteriorated his war skills; Beowulf alone cannot defeat the enormous, fire-breathing dragon. However, only one warrior aids Beowulf- Wiglaf, a youth. Wiglaf intervening in the battle symbolizes that

Related Documents