Essay on Beowulf’s Three Great Fights in Beowulf

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Beowulf, which is considered the oldest English masterpiece, celebrates the three great fights of Beowulf. Whether Beowulf is a Christian poem written based on pagan story or a pagan poem rewritten under Christian influence remains unknown, considering that the poem combines pagan and Christian elements rather seamlessly. While Beowulf is described as a hero with admirable Christian virtues, he is still essentially a pagan hero. The poem does not reject the pagan heroism. However, Beowulf’s oldest manuscript was written by a Christian for freshly-converted Christians, thus the poem as we know it shows the superiority of Christianity over pagan religions. The three great fights can be interpreted as a criticism of Beowulf’s flawed …show more content…
Grendel’s mother is described as “a monstrous ogress” who attacks the mead hall to avenge her son. Because Grendel’s mother is as strong as Beowulf, he has to wear full armour and use a sword in this fight. This preparation indicates that Beowulf is not confident when he has to fight with anger and vengeance. As a pagan hero, Beowulf believes in vengeance: “It is better for a man/ to avenge his friend than to refresh his sorrow” (1383-4). He sets up to kill Grendel’s mother to avenge Ashhere, Hthrogar’s counsellor. This fight is more difficult for Beowulf than the fight with Grendel, as Beowulf is angry and his cause to kill is not pure: “He scoured the dwelling in single-minded anger” (1572-3). Beowulf only wins the fight because God has given him a sword. Yet that sword is melted by Grendel’s mother’s blood, which might suggest how powerful vengeance can be: it can destroy the God’s gift and make a man alienate himself from God. Beowulf is open to the evil of vengeance, which makes him a flawed hero in the Christian perspective. The last fight of the three happens several years after, when Beowulf is the king of the Geats. His enemy is a dragon which attacks Beowulf’s kingdom because a thief has stolen its treasure (2217-20). Thus the dragon represents greed and pride. By this time, Beowulf is old and weaker than he was before. Nevertheless, he decided to face the dragon on his own, which shows his great pride. Beowulf’s

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