Monsters In Beowulf Essay

2480 words - 10 pages

There are three prominent monsters in the Beowulf text, Grendel, his mother, and the dragon. While the dragon proves to be the most fatale of foes for Beowulf, Grendel and his mother do not simply pose physical threats to the Germanic society; their roles in Beowulf are manifold. They challenge the perceptions of heroism, a sense of unrivalled perfection and superiority. Moreover, they allow the reader to reconsider the gender constructs upheld within the text; one cannot help but feel that the threat that these monsters present is directed towards the prevalent flaws in Beowulf’s world. Moreover, what makes these monsters is not their physical appearance; it is what they embody. Both Grendel and his mother have humanlike qualities yet their monstrous appearance arises from what their features and mannerisms represent. The challenge they pose to societal paradigms makes them far more terrifying to our heroes than any scaled flesh or clawing hand. These monsters provide the ‘most authoritative general criticism […] of the structure and conduct of the poem’. Their presence provides contrast and criticism of the brave society (Heaney 103).
Grendel’s emergence is sudden and immediately the reader is presented with the image of a ‘fiend out of hell’ who has been provoked by the construction of Heorot. Indeed, the poet notes that the monster had long ‘nursed a hard grievance’, forced to listen to the clatter and din emitting from the mead hall. Heorot itself is given a sense of foreboding, in spite of being ‘meant to be a wonder of the world forever’, the poet admits that it was simply ‘awaiting a barbarous burning’ (Heaney 69, 82). Is the poet subtly suggesting that the construction of Heorot is not a symbol of marvel but rather a representation of the conflict that continues to exist within these kinship structures of this Germanic society? Grendel’s arrival after the mead hall is erected may be seen as a sudden reminder of the issues within this society. His appearance seems to awake them from ‘their feasting, insensible to pain and human sorrow’ that lies just outside their gates (Beowulf 119). The hall is noted to be the future home of ‘the killer instinct/ blood lust’ yet is this indicative of Grendel’s arrival or simply a reinforcement of the tenuous nature of the familial structures within the text. The ambiguity regarding this blood lust suggests that Grendel is not the only antagonist within this civilization and simply embodies the ‘evils in the world’ on a smaller scale (Beowulf 100).
Consider the nature of Grendel; he is not unlike Beowulf in his manner. Indeed, he is depicted as ‘the twin or double of the monster killing hero, for the two signify, respectively, the same maleficent and beneficent aspects of the same mythic violence’ (Lionarons 4). He takes thirty ‘butchered corpses’ back to his lair, like a monstrous victory trophy to feast upon later (Beowulf 123). While the poet admits that he is nothing more than a ‘God-cursed brute...

Find Another Essay On Monsters in Beowulf

Epic Hero: Beowulf Essay

973 words - 4 pages in helpless death throes” (Foster 1). In every battle, Beowulf is overpowered with wisdom, which makes him an epic hero. The second thing that makes Beowulf an epic hero is his strength. Beowulf’s main weapon against any opponents, he face is his mighty strength, which makes him the true epic hero. Beowulf fights many battles throughout his life, he killed all the monsters he faced, which shows his mighty power within him. Beowulf is the

Beowulf: The Outsiders Essay

1118 words - 4 pages In the Anglo-Saxon poem called Beowulf the concept of outsiders is not only established through its monstrous antagonists, but also humanoid supporting characters. Conversely the protagonist, Beowulf, and his portrayal of godlike perfection allows the reader to interpret Beowulf himself as the central outcast, existing in an imperfect world. Beowulf becomes an outsider while in contrast with other generally perceived outcast characters such as

Beowulf

604 words - 2 pages Beowulf kills and battles the monsters that cause havoc to the Danes land. The role of monsters play a vital role within "Beowulf" by taking the protagonist and creating obstacles and by relating the journey of Beowulf's life from a valiant young warrior to an ancient king.Grendel, a sloth like character, said to be a descendent of cain, attacks the citizens at Danes. He attacks because he is annoyed by the loud noises and can't bare to listen

Beowulf, Christianity, and Paganism

967 words - 4 pages Beowulf, Christianity, and Paganism The poem Beowulf is a renowned story that displays many different surroundings and religious beliefs. Some may believe the story of Beowulf portrays pagan beliefs or customs and others believe that the poem is more in agreement with Christian ethnicity. The author of Beowulf uses both Christian and pagan elements in the poem to define the heroic warrior, Beowulf, and the evil dragons. After reading

Beowulf

563 words - 2 pages Monstrosities within BeowulfThe monsters in the poem Beowulf represent characteristics opposite to what defines a hero. Grendel represents cowardliness, Grendel's mother symbolizes vengeance, and the Dragon is a symbol for greed. Beowulf is considered one of the greatest works of literature to emerge from the Anglo-Saxon culture. The Old English epic poem consists of 3182 alliterative lines and was estimated to have been written between the 8th

Heroic and Religious Truths of "Beowulf"

891 words - 4 pages protects Beowulf in this supernatural fight, and Beowulf slays Grendel's mother with the giant's sword in her cave. After restoring peace in Hrothgar's kingdom, Beowulf returns to Geatland with gifts from Hrothgar and the praise of his people for coming to their rescue.Even though Beowulf slays two monsters, his mission for fame and immortal glory still remains incomplete. God helps him in all of his battles, and Beowulf has proven to be

Comparing Beowulf and Michael Crichton's The 13th Warrior

814 words - 3 pages Ahmed is Arabic. In “The 13th Warrior” groups of men fight the evil which is in the form of men dressed up as bears, possibly to seem more frightening, and their mother, who is an evil witch. Beowulf generally fights the evil, which is represented by Grendel and his mother, who are both monsters, descendants of Cain, alone. The warriors of “The 13th Warrior” and Beowulf, clearly, had incongruous reasons for fighting the bear men. Beowulf wanted to be

Epic of Beowulf Essay - Beowulf as Heroic Archetype

750 words - 3 pages Beowulf as Heroic Archetype Monsters, their mothers, and dragons! The epic poem Beowulf, author unknown, includes all these mystical creatures and an impervious protagonist after which the poem is named. As the main character in the poem, Beowulf exemplifies the heroic archetype physically, spiritually, and ethically. Beowulf is superior to the average person in many areas, among them physical strength. Throughout the poem

Evolution of Evil

672 words - 3 pages The tale of Beowulf takes place over a substantial amount of time; therefore the characters within will develop and revolutionize. The juxtaposition of the monsters that Beowulf encounters next to the changes within himself illuminates the mastery of narrative that the Anglo-Saxons partook. Grendel is a villain in search of recognition, Grendel’s mother is consumed with the idea of revenge, and the dragon is a beast that had felt secure for

Beowulf’s Strength and Bravery

810 words - 4 pages . She does this, in the poem, to show the reader that she is less like a woman, but more like a man. She tried to get revenge on her son’s attacker. When Beowulf set off to defeat Ma Drendel he brought his men again. They find her den, but run into a conflict. The den can only be reached by swimming through a swamp of water that is defended by many sea monsters. Beowulf goes alone showing more bravery. He received Hrunting from Unferth and set off

Destiny or Not? Analysis of Beowulf and pre-determined destiny

1038 words - 4 pages alive because he knows that "fate saves the living when they drive away death by themselves" (572-573). Fate keeps Beowulf alive in his battles as he survives from nine "sea-huge monsters" (575), Grendel, and Grendel's mother. Grendel and his mother spawn from hell and Beowulf fights for the heavens. His pre-determined destiny is death in spite of his extraordinary body, strength, courage, and fearlessness. Beowulf parallels with Jesus greatly

Similar Essays

Monsters And Men In Macbeth, Beowulf, Frankstien

1463 words - 6 pages the opposite of evil. There can be multiple people in a story who can be characterized as men. They don’t all necessarily have to be heroic to be considered as men. In the literature pieces of Macbeth, Beowulf and Frankenstein; there are countless instances where one might be able to distinguish between Monsters and Men. But they all fall in different genres. Macbeth is a story about a tragic hero; the fallen one or the man who brought misery upon

In The Following Essay, The Poem Beowulf Is Analyzed To Determine If Grendel And His Mother Are Humans Or Monsters

1181 words - 5 pages Subject: How Human are Grendel and his Mother?Although a cursory analysis of the poem may lead oneto see Grendel and his mother as quintessentialrepresentations of a belial and insensate monstrositythat is in diametrical opposition to ubiquitousexpectations for tellurians regarding affect, indices ofthe physicality, etc., closer examination of the textreveals the astonishing possibility that thesepurportedly nefarious and murderous monsters may

Beowulf Monsters Essay

1372 words - 6 pages his terrible mother attacked only ‘when darkness had dropped.’ Most monsters, including those in Beowulf, are nocturnal because night was most dangerous to prehistoric man. A human’s most important defense mechanism, sight, is a fraction of its power in the dark. Grendel attacks Herot only when it’s at its most vulnerable, just as a night predator would stalk a human at its weakest hour. Grendel also embodies physical attributes of early beasts

Comparing And Contrasting The Monsters Of Beowulf With Today´S Criminals

3018 words - 12 pages In any classic story about heroes and villains, the monsters involved are often characterized as the evil ones and, consequently, receive no justice under the law. Throughout the epic story Beowulf, the hero of the story encounters three monsters that are threats to society: Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the dragon. The monsters in Beowulf are quickly targeted and destroyed because of the harm they cause to society. However, upon