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Beowulf Essay

1858 words - 7 pages

Tiffani DouglasEnglish Literature Survey 201Dr. Brown5 October 2007Comparison and Contrast: Beowulf's Three FightsViolent struggles commonly pervaded ancient Anglo-Saxon narratives. In the epic Beowulf, the main character engaged in battle with three different monsters; he fought Grendel, Grendel's mother, and a dragon. In all three battles, the hero Beowulf had similar motives and fighting patterns, but these scenes also differed because there was a progressive degree of uncertainty about the outcome of each battle and a greater possibility of failure.Beowulf easily defeated his first adversary in the epic, the monster Grendel. Grendel approached the scene of the battle with heedless bloodlust, confident that he would be able to wreak his usual havoc on the Danes. When Grendel and Beowulf met in battle, he found that he had underestimated Beowulf, and Beowulf maintained his fierce grip on Grendel throughout the entire duration of the battle. At the very beginning of the battle,The captain of evil discovered himselflocked in a handgrip harder than anythinghe had ever encountered in any man. (749-751)Grendel knew Beowulf would emerge victorious, thus he "was desperate to flee to his den and hide" (754) from Beowulf. Grendel inflicted no harm upon Beowulf, and he "was overwhelmed, / manacled tight by" (487-88) Beowulf. Although his warriors were present to aid him in the battle, Beowulf "placed no reliance on his companions and needed no help from them" (Rogers 341) to prevail against Grendel. In the fight with Grendel, "the poet several times assures us of a happy outcome" (Brodeur 109).Grendel's mother, however, provided a greater challenge for Beowulf than Grendel. After she discovered that her son had been killed, Grendel's mother vowed revenge, and Beowulf rode to her lair to confront her. When he fought Grendel's mother, "the surefooted fighter felt daunted" (1543) for the first time in Beowulf. While he easily triumphed over Grendel, Beowulf narrowly escaped death as he struggled with Grendel's mother. She had pinned him down and stabbed at him, but Beowulf's chain mail armor caught the blade and spared his life. Beowulf relied on his armor to protect him against Grendel's mother, indicating that she had a greater chance of defeating Beowulf than Grendel did.There were also some differences between the physical aspects of the two fights. The fight with Grendel was a "one fall, one submission, and one knock-out bout, whist the fight with Grendel's mother ha[d] quite a different pace. [Against Grendel's mother,] we ha[d] a two-fall fight" (Orchard 91-92). Grendel's mother overcame Beowulf, then he retaliated and triumphed over her. Beowulf's fight with Grendel's mother was longer and more complicated than his fight with Grendel.While Beowulf defeated Grendel using nothing more than his own two hands, the case differed with Grendel's mother. Beowulf initially attempted to fight Grendel's mother without weapons, but he soon found that this was...

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