Theme Of Evil In Beowulf

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The Good, the Bad, and Beowulf Although no confirmation can be made regarding Beowulf’s author, an indisputable aspect of the great epic poem is its Anglo-Saxon origin. In fact, this Old English influence plays a significant role in the work, and ultimately governs the behaviors and conduct demonstrated in the poem. These heroic code behaviors exemplified typically include: a courtly demeanor, unparalleled strength, and valor. However, perhaps the most prominent value evidenced in Beowulf, is the inherent display of morality. In particular, actions as well as the characters are continually being perceived as good or bad according to the archaic Anglo-Saxon ethical code. On a literal level of interpretation, a primitive understanding of morality …show more content…
Specifically, it is inarguable fact that Beowulf is an exemplary soldier, and an extraordinary fighter with the ability to make a monster “back-track” (Beowulf 57). While these feats deserve to be recognized, they should not be proclaimed by Beowulf himself. Specifically, the Anglo-Saxon belief is that a valiant fighter is also a humble one, which it appears Beowulf is not. Specifically, while discussing a past swimming contest, Beowulf peppers his passage with a copious amount of egotistical comments where he boasts his slaying of sea monsters. Beowulf then uses his own achievements to put down those around him, proclaiming “Now I cannot recall / any fight you entered, Unferth, / that bears comparison.” (Beowulf 53). This dialogue is important because it indicates an imperfect side to Beowulf, which evidences that morality is not always clear-cut. Nonetheless, his characterization according to the Anglo-Saxon code is still an overall admirable one. Therefore, the anonymous author’s labeling of Beowulf as a hero is correct, and it can be ascertained that Beowulf is in fact, a beacon of …show more content…
As evidenced previously, he launches his fatal attacks on the occupants of Heorot without a justifiable reason, and he does not display a single trait in accordance with the Anglo-Saxon values of valiance. Therefore, Grendel is emblematic of the evil end of the morality spectrum. Yet, the anonymous author’s literal characterization is not always an accurate determination of morality. Specifically, in the case of Grendel’s mother, she is portrayed as an inherently depraved demon, and a “roaming killer” (Beowulf 71). The aforementioned Heorot slaughters label her on a literal level as an assailant, who entered Hrothgar’s territory purely to terrorize. However, when a more symbolic sense is applied to the mead-hall scenes, Grendel’s mother becomes representative of the Anglo-Saxon heroic archetype. According to the heroic code, Grendel’s mother should be celebrated for her successful slaughter, just as Beowulf was. During the exposition, Grendel is alone in his battering, and his mother does not involve herself or exhibit vicious tendencies until her son’s murder. Grendel’s mother’s is as devoted to her son as Beowulf is to his comitatus, and these inherent allegiances drive their decisions to fight. Consequently, it is possible to ascertain that Grendel’s mother is acting on a premise fueled by vengeance, much like the revenge that Beowulf seeks. Since retribution and loyalty are highly-prized facets

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