Beowulf
Anonymous Anglo-Saxon poet
Contributed by Karim Chandra
Lines 1251-1904
Summary

Hrothgar and Beowulf had to leave the Heorot Hall after a long ceremonial evening to have a rest. However, their rest is short-lived as they realize that the battle is not yet over. Grandel’s mother has been irked by the death of her son and she, therefore, gets out to avenge. She quietly and stealthily attacks people at the Hall. She kills Aeschere, who is one of the advisers of Hrothgar.

People summon Beowulf quickly to push him to come to their rescue and enable them to wage a fight against the mother of the monster. He proclaims the heroic code grandly before leaving his hut headed towards the murderer. Unferth, unexpectedly, gives Beowulf his sword to assist him in fighting the mother of the beast. He prepares to engage the mother of the monster in battle in what appears to be his commitment towards being able to finish the war he started. He gets into the poisonous mere and begins swimming. As he gets down to the cave of t Grendel’s mother, she spots him and attacks him. She pulls him into a great hall that is located below the swamp. As they battle, Beowulf strikes his sword, but it fails to have any effect on the mother of the dead monster.

As he continues to attack her, he sees a mighty sword that is meant for striking giants placed against the wall. He quickly picks it from the wall and strikes Grendel’s mother, beheading her instantly. The Danes and Geats are watching from above and see blood boiling inside the bog. They quickly assume that the mother of the beast has subdued Beowulf. They had a feeling that the mother is much more experienced and strong. They were also afraid that the mother was driven by anger to avenge the death of her son. To that end, it would, therefore, be almost impossible to win against her. The Danes, dejected, decide to leave. The Geats, on the other hand, stay to get a sign from their hero on what to do next.

Beowulf, on looking beside him, sees Grendel’s body lying on the floor. He quickly beheads the body as a way of retaliating for all his men that the monster had murdered. The blade of the sword starts melting as soon as it touches the poisonous blood of Grendel. Thus, it brings to an end the great danger that has haunted Heorot Hall for years.

Beowulf gets back to Heorot Hall carrying the hilt of the sword as well as the head of Grendel. He regards them as trophies. Hrothgar is also the full appreciation for the works of Beowulf and, thereby, gives him more presents. He also gives him fatherly advice on some of the actions that he might need to do as a ruler. The advice is meant to prepare him to take up the role of leadership when the time is appropriate.

Hrothgar also goes on to declare that Beowulf is worthy of being king, owing to the great sacrifice he has done as well as the acts of a champion that could be attributed to the risks that he has taken so far. He maintains that Beowulf is worthy to become king in his land. His words are a clear contrast to the stand held by the evil King Heremod of Denmark. The success of Beowulf in attacking the mother of the dead monster gives rise to another feast. In the end, Beowulf and his men sail off towards home, having accomplished their mission. 

Analysis

Culturally, Grendel’s mother has all the right to seek revenge for the death of her son. During the time, feuds were commonplace, and people were keen on seeking revenge on those who had either wronged them or appeared to wrong the people whom they loved the most. Some of the feuds that took place during the time lasted for generations. Children born in the wronged families were keen on seeking revenge for the wrongs that were done to their parents.  Women were also part of the revenge, although, in most cases, they were not the ones who implemented the retribution action.

Because Grendel’s mother did not stick to the rules of revenge, the audience can, therefore, assume that Beowulf and Hrothgar did not find it fair for her to seek retribution. In the same measure, Grendel and his mother were descendants of Cain. To that end, they did not have the same rights as other human beings.

The actions of Unferth in giving Beowulf his sword to fight the mother of the slain monster also send across a strong message. One may, therefore, interpret that he no longer holds any grudge against the hero. To that end, he happens to respect a lot the role that Beowulf has done and seemed to admire his courage and strength. Where Beowulf dives into the bubbling mere is a representation of him entering hell.

Much to the surprise of many, the dwelling place for Grendel, the monster has a lot of semblance to the hall that is above ground. The concept, therefore, aims to figuratively show that there is no difference between Heaven and Hell as one might expect. Beowulf tries to attack Grendel’s mother with the sword that Unferth had given him. He, therefore, manages to find a supernatural sword with which he manages to cut off the head of the mother to the dead monster.

The magical sword is, therefore, determined to be used for the good with the aim of destroying evil. Where the job is over, the blade of the sword melts on its own. Beowulf brings the hilt and the head of the monstrous Grendel to King Hrothgar as a tribute to the difficult times that they had gone through. The trophies that Beowulf brings to Hrothgar aim to depict the theme of death and defeat. He had managed to defeat the monsters by killing them. Hrothgar is quite elated in seeing the head and the hilt of the sword. He, therefore, determines that the monsters can no longer terrorize the people the way they used to. They are now dead and, therefore, people have the opportunity to go about their normal duties in the best way they used to. 

Hrothgar speaks of the heroic acts of Beowulf by stating the important role that he has played in ensuring that he can protect people from the attacks of the monster. He, however, goes on to over advice regarding fame and power. He states that fame and power have a potential of turning the head of a leader and cause him to become evil. He, therefore, warned Beowulf to be keener on the high level of power that he has adopted around him. By being extra careful regarding the power, he can exert some control over his actions. He also has the potential to determine the way he interacts with other people, with the view of being an in a position to serve them better.

Hrothgar is also reflecting on the fate that stands in the way of King Heremod. He, therefore, decides to pass wisdom to Beowulf to enable him to attain better living standards and interaction with other people. Through the process, there is a possibility of making him a worthy leader. Hrothgar wishes to ensure that Beowulf does not succumb to the fate that many kings normally experience after attaining so much success. Hrothgar’s speech refers to many biblical parables. They, therefore, help to showcase the Christian identity of Hrothgar. It also shows the Christian nature of the Geats and Danes. Hrothgar sees Beowulf as his son. Thus, he has a high inclination to name him as heir to the throne.

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