Beowulf
Anonymous Anglo-Saxon poet

by

Karim Chandra

Symbols
Symbols are objects or figures that artists use to represent an idea.
Grendel
Grendel is a symbol of evil and jealousy. Grendel is a descendant of the jealous Cain, who killed his brother in the biblical stories. Cain and all his descendants including Grendel were banished from their land. Grendel and his mother live in a swampy area after the banishment. The cave in which they live also symbolizes they were outcast. He fed on the Danish warriors, this show he strength over the heroes who were celebrated. The literary example of good triumph over evil is evident when Beowulf defeats Grendel and kills him.
Dragon
Dragon hoards gold and other treasures in his place something that is contrary to the Anglo-Saxons’ practices. The poem Beowulf demonstrates that gold is supposed to be used by Kings in rewarding heroes of the land, specifically successful warriors who were coming back from war. The treasure dragon keeps were left behind by the Last survivor; the dragon is merely hoarding the riches as he does nothing with them. He even lost his life in fighting for valuables that have no use. Dragons green is also portrayed when a runaway slave steals one golden chalice from his place. When searching for the thief, Dragons burns Beowulf’s home and all the villages of the Kingdom. He did all this in vengeance over the theft of one golden chalice.
Herot Hall
Heorot Hall in the story Beowulf is used to symbolizing happiness, pride, and distress. The great Heorot Hall wall which was King Hrothgar’s legacy was built to honor great warriors of the land for their great achievements. The hall also served as a place where court and regions warriors can gather to eat, drink and celebrate. It is a place associated with warmth and joy and cannot be compared to Grendel’s swampy and cold place. Grendel’s hold of the great hall under attack for 12 years shows a situational irony case. The hall which was the people’s place of refuge has been turned into a place of grief.
The Cave
The cave where Grendel and his mother hid is symbolic. It is a place where they lived as outcasts. The place is also hidden inside a dark mere. The cave also accords the mother and son some level of peace from a world that they view to be highly violent against them. Grendel and his mother are not allowed to step in Heorot, and they are fully aware of the fact. To that end, they have a view that their cave offers them some level of serenity that they call for. The cave also represents the heritage of Gretel and his mother. They are descendants of Cain. They are, therefore, associated with black magic, sorcery, demons, hell and ancient runes. When Grendel's mother has the chance to fight Beowulf, she gains the advantage of having to engage in the fight from the comfort of her cave. She is fully aware of the advantage that lies in her way and is, therefore, willing to take full advantage of it. Fortunately, Beowulf manages to win over the monster, in spite of the great disadvantage that lies in his way.
Grendel’s Head and Claw
Beowulf had intended to have a share of the entire of the body of Gretel to present it to King Hrothgar. He believed that by doing so, he would have had provided enough proof that he had managed to kill the monster. However, after the war at the Heorot, he had to contend with the right arm (claw) he had managed to tear off from the body of the monster. Grendel’s mother also sees the claw as a great symbol. To her, it meant that she had experienced a personal loss to the mankind and, therefore, had to exert her revenge. Beowulf follows Grendel’s mother to the cave and kills her. He sees Grendel’s body lying nearby. He no longer has interest in his claw and goes for his head. To him, cutting the ogre’s head from its body was a show of the great power that he had managed to have against him.
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