Grendel's Mother's Attack Essay

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Grendel's Mother's Attack

In Beowulf, we see a number of elements throughout the poem. First, we see a pagan warrior society. In this society the relationship between a king and his thanes is key. It is a symbiotic relationship in which the thanes defend the king and his land and fight his wars. In return, the king provides for his men. He offers them such items as mailcoats, swords, helmets, gold rings, mead, beer, shelter and companionship. This society also places great value on kinship. If one's kin is killed, it is the remaining relative's duty to make the killer pay for the death, either with his own life or the payment of wergild (the "man price"). Finally, we see the recurrence of the pagan ideas of fate and courage. Men
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Beowulf put a stop to the madness when he killed Grendel. But no one has thought about Grendel's kin. When Grendel's mother seeks revenge, it is a different story. If it weren't for the fact that there are only two monsters in the mere, this blood feud could have gone on for ages.

Hrothgar summons Beowulf and tells him that the dead man is Aeschere, his dearest advisor. He begs Beowulf for help once more, and Beowulf agrees saying, "It is better for a man to avenge his friend than much mourn." (Norton, page 45.) It is here that we see Hrothgar contrasted with Beowulf. Hrothgar is described as "the hoary warrior"; he seems old, tired, and out of control. His thanes may be good at boasting, but they are unable to protect his kingdom. Beowulf, on the other hand, is young, strong, and courageous. He believes that "Fate often saves an undoomed man when his courage is good." (Norton, page 34.)

We see a similar contrast of age and fighting ability later in the poem when Beowulf is an old man and goes to slay the dragon. In that scene, Beowulf's age is contrasted with Wiglaf's youth. The big difference between these two scenes of the poem is that throughout his life, Beowulf does not fear going into battle for his people, but Hrothgar avoids it. Beowulf fights the dragon even if it means his own death.

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