Epic of Beowulf - The Conflicts of Beowulf Essay
George Clark in “The Hero and the Theme” make reference to an interior conflict within the Beowulf hero himself, and how the hero appears to lose this conflict:
Although a strong critical movement followed Klaeber in taking Beowulf as a Christian hero or even Christ figure, the most numerous and influential body of postwar critics, including Margaret Goldsmith (1960, 1962, 1970), read the poem as faulting the hero for moral filures according to one or another Christian standard of judgment (see also Bolton 1978). The poem became a neo-Aritotelian tragedy in which the hero’s flaw could be identified as a sin, greed, or pride (279).
The conflicts of Beowulf are both external …show more content…
march-riever mighty, in moorland living,
in fen and fastness; fief of the giants
the hapless wight a while had kept
since the Creator his exile doomed.
This “kin of Cain” Grendel could not endure the joy of the Danes and their celebration of God’s creation of the world. Consequently he attacked Heorot and killed 30 warriors the first night. Thus the reader sees a very serious external conflict between this monster and the Danish people. This situation brought about a serious internal conflict within their king, Hrothgar, who was totally frustrated by his inability to get rid of Grendel:
THUS seethed unceasing the son of Healfdene
with the woe of these days; not wisest men
assuaged his sorrow; too sore the anguish,
loathly and long, that lay on his folk,
most baneful of burdens and bales of the night.
The continuing conflict with the monster, after enduring for 12 years, caused another internal conflict. The victimized population initially appealed to their Christian God for relief, and when this was not forthcoming they reverted to pagan sacrifices in an effort to stop Grendel:
Whiles they vowed in their heathen fanes
altar-offerings, asked with words
that the slayer-of-souls