Good and Evil in Beowulf
In Beowulf, the conflict between good and evil is the poem's main and
most important aspect. The poet makes it clear that good and evil do not
exist as only opposites, but that both qualities are present
in everyone. Beowulf represents the ability to do good, or to perform
acts selflessly and in help of others. Goodness is also showed
throughout this epic as having the ability to cleanse evil. Even though evil
is presented by Grendel, Grendel's mother, and the dragon, who are
filled with a desire to act against people and ultimately destroy them.
Even pride, a human quality, is presented in Beowulf as a sign that evil
Beowulf takes it upon himself to announce several great deeds that he will perform to help countries in need. One of these deeds is his offer to King
Hrothgar, in which he proposes to slay Grendel. Beowulf states,
"Single-handed I'll settle the strife!" In this statement,
Beowulf is simply stating that he will kill this evil creature,
Grendel. Another selfless act Beowulf states is that he will slay
Grendel's mother. Beowulf declares, "And I give you pledge, She
(Grendel's mother) shall not in safety escape to cover." Beowulf
promises to see to it that Grendel's mother will be killed. After Beowulf
becomes king in Geatland, he shows his great ability once more by
pledging to kill the fire-dragon. "The ring-prince scorned to
assault the dragon," the poet said. Beowulf is said to have pledged
to kill the dragon, which has caused a disturbance among his people.
These selfless acts offered by Beowulf display much of the goodness that
is present in Beowulf.
Goodness is not only portrayed by selfless acts, but also by it's ability
to purge and cleanse evil. This is first shown after Beowulf slays
Grendel. The poet says, "(Beowulf) Had purged of evil the hall of
Hrothgar, and cleansed of crime; the heart of the hero." The good
done by Beowulf is shown to have the ability to cleanse Herot of evil.
Another example of good cleansing evil occurs after Beowulf had slayed
both Grendel and Grendel's mother, and is departing to fight his final
battle. The poet states, "Purged of evil the hall of Hrothgar and
crushed out Grendel's loathsome kin." By destroying both Grendel
and Grendel's mother, Beowulf has purified hall of Hrothgar of all evils.
Furthermore Beowulf announces that he will rid Herot of evil. Beowulf
says, "That I may...