Beowulf
Anonymous Anglo-Saxon poet
Contributed by Karim Chandra

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Lines 2510-2891
Summary

Beowulf also gives a story regarding the victories he had attained. He also gives a lot of praises to the warriors who had gone out with him with the view of enabling him to attain his goal. He asks his men to allow him to participate in one last fight. He moves inside the barrow bravely and calls out the dragon with the aim of fighting it. The dragon comes out of the barrow and Beowulf tries to strike it using his sword. He, however, does not succeed in killing it. All the warriors, except only one of them, run away when they get sight of the dragon.

Although Beowulf is tired and has already been burned, he does not give up. Wiglaf, the only remaining warrior gets behind the shield facing the flames of fire produced by the dragon, to assist his king in fighting it. Wiglaf, thereby, uses the sword to strike the dragon, injuring it.  Wiglaf also goes on to praise Beowulf for the fame that he has gathered over time. It is the praise the motivated Beowulf to deliver the last blow to the dragon. He stabs the dragon in the abdomen using his knife. The dragon, however, manages to bite Beowulf with his sharp fangs, thereby, fatally injuring him.

As Beowulf is dying, Wiglaf tries to give him water. Beowulf then requests Wiglaf to enter the barrow to retrieve some of the treasures that are contained inside to hold them. Although he will die soon, Beowulf is happy that he will be able to leave some treasure for his subjects. He feels glad that he has managed to play the role of a king over the land in the most effective way possible. He, after that, removes his fighting gear and gives them to Wiglaf, saying his goodbye. While full of grief for the death of his master, Wiglaf lectures the other soldiers who neglected Beowulf at an hour he needed them the most. He also predicts that once other people become aware of the neglect and weakness they had shown, attacks will be imminent.

Analysis

In the beginning, Beowulf was fully confident regarding his ability to strike the dragon and kill him. He, however, attains a change of heart as the time for fighting the dragon becomes imminent. He is not less courageous than he used to be. He is only more realistic about his reduced capacity to fight the dragon, given the advancement of his age as well as the weakness that he currently feels in his body. He also seems to have a supernatural foreboding that seems to guide his intuition in having a view that he could be headed towards death, which choosing the engage the dragon in battle. To boost his moral, he reminisces about the successes that he had had before as he engaged in various battles. He does so to remind himself that he is a man of courage and honor.

Although he is fully aware that he is nearing his death, he can motivate himself and his men to face the dragon. He, however, tells them to allow him to fight the dragon alone. The refusal of Wiglaf to abandon his master is an indication of the high level of loyalty that he had towards Beowulf. His actions can, therefore, be likened to the form of loyalty that Beowulf had towards King Hrothgar.

By Beowulf giving his armor to Wiglaf as a gift, it is an act of great significance. Beowulf depicts the act of handing down as very critical as evidenced throughout the poem. The audience may, therefore, be led to believe that Beowulf had the intention to entrust the crown to Wiglaf. However, it is less likely that Wiglaf will be made king as Beowulf did not make the intention official. The poem also shows that, just like during his lifetime, Beowulf was successful in his death. He had managed to establish his reputation as a hero with the characteristics of brevity and loyalty. He had also managed to die in the same measure, bearing the formidable characteristics. He is also glad at his death that he has managed to leave his people with some treasure.

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