The epic poem Beowulf is a story of heroes and monsters, good and evil. The poem tells about the accomplishments and deeds of a legendary Geatish hero who first rids the Danish kingdom of Hrothgar of two demonic monsters: Grendel and Grendel's mother. Later in the story, Beowulf meets a dragon, kills it with the help of Wiglaf, but dies of wounds.
No one knows who wrote Beowulf. It was not really written in the way that literature is written now. It is an epic poem, meant to be spoken aloud, very few of them were ever written down, and very few of them survived into modern times.
Known as the first poem of the English literature, Beowulf is the major literary monument of Old English literature and of Anglo-Saxon England. The original work was written around the year 1000. The myth that Beowulf embodies has captured the modern imagination and placed the poem among the masterpieces of world literature. The poem documents the values, questions, and attitudes of the time and explores themes that are still engaging and fascinating. Beowulf is the oldest known piece of literature in English.
Main Characters Of The Play
Beowulf: The title character and hero. He is first the prince of the Geats and becomes their King. He is often referred to as the son of Edgetheow.
Hothgar: The old, once great King of the Danes whose hall, Heorot is attacked by Grendel.
Grendel: The monster who attacks Heorot. He attacks Heorot because he is jealous of the friendships and happiness of the Danes.
Grendel's Mother: Has no name of her own. She is a monster and gives Beowulf just as difficult fight as her son does.
The Dragon: The enemy that finally kills Beowulf. It guards a great tresuarehoard, and when that hoard is disturbed, the dragon attacks the Geats. In the end it dies due to the effort of Beowulf and Wiglaf.
Wiglaf: The bravest of Beowulf's warriors and the one that helps defeat the Dragon. Beowulf leaves him the kingdom of the Geats, since he has no son of his own. Wiglaf is very loyal to Beowulf.
(pages 61-63 of "The Norton Anthology")
The dragon advances, and Beowulf finds his iron shield less protection than he thought against the dragon's flames. Nevertheless, he strikes the dragon with his sword. Angered by the blow, the dragon ejects even more fire, and Beowulf is forced to step back. At this point all of Beowulf's companions (except Wiglaf) flee to the woods. The dragon bytes Beowulf on the neck with his huge, poisonous fangs. As Beowulf bleeds all over the cave, Wiglaf finds the dragon's weak spot on its neck and hits it with his sword. Beowulf manages to stab the dragon with a sharp knife from his vest. Both, the dragon and Beowulf, fall.
Wiglaf patches his King's wounds, and...