The poem Beowulf about a hero named Beowulf who saves the Danes from a demon-creature named Grendel, and Grendels mother. Grendel has been killing the Danes for 12 years and King Hrothgar, leader of the Danes is powerless against this creature. Word of Grendels acts have traveled across the ocean to Geatland, where Beowulf lives. When Beowulf hears of this, he feels indebted to help King Hrothgar who is the king of the Danes because of a deed King Hrothgar did for Beowulfs father years ago. Beowulf is successful in defeating the creatures, but years later he will succumb to another creature due to his heightened self-value. This poem has an underlying message about the importance of humility and avoiding a haughty, prideful spirit no matter how much you have accomplished.
Beowulf arrives to the land of the Danes unsummoned. King Hrothgars officer, Wulfgar, didnt recognize Beowulf or his men when they arrived. In lines 333-389, Wulfgar questions Beowulf as to who he is and why him and his men have sailed to the land of the Danes. When Wulfgar feels more comfortable with Beowulf, he goes to notify King Hrothgar of his arrival all before Beowulf and his men could continue to enter the land. While Beowulfs intention to go to Denmark was noble, this begins to speak to the thoughts that Beowulf has of himself as hero and his abilities to defeat any monster, even if he has never seen it or has no idea what he is going to be up against.
When Beowulf is learning about Grendel and he leans that Grendel doesnt use weapons during combat, it seems as if Beowulf sees this as a challenge. In lines 438-439 Beowulf states,but I with my grip shall fight this fiend , meaning that he will also not use any weapons. In the movie Beowulf, the hero is even stark naked in mead-hall awaiting Grendels arrival while all 14 of his men are dressed in armor. It is not stated, but as a reader I wonder if Beowulf has fought any pervious battles unarmed? In my opinion, this was an act of pride. Fortunately, Beowulf defeats Grendel and saves the Danes.
He also kills Grendels mother for avenging her sons death by killing one of King Hrothgars men. Before returning home, King Hrothgar has a talk with Beowulf that seemingly foreshadows his death. In 1758-1768, the King warns Beowulf about not succumbing to the spirit of pride. The King is wise and recognizes that Beowulf is in his prime and is known as hero throughout the land, but he also sees fit to remind him that the days of his prime and youth will not always last. This advice doesnt seem to humble Beowulf. Not long after Beowulf returns home to Geatland, his king, King Hygelac is murdered and the son of the king, Heardred takes the throne, but is also soon murdered leaving Beowulf to be king.
Beginning at line 2214, we learn about a slave who steals a gold drinking cup from a dragon with a mound of treasures. Once the dragon realized that this item was missing he began to retaliate against Geatland by burning down the city in hopes of finding the man that stole his cup. To defend Geatland, Beowulf prepared for a battle with the dragon. The soldiers of Geatland offered to assist Beowulf, but in a moment of pride Beowulf declined the help. All of the soldiers left except for one, Wiglaf.
Defeating the dragon may have been something the Beowulf could have done with ease when he was younger and in his prime; however, this was no longer the case. The dragon began to overpower Beowulf, but luckily Wiglaf stayed and was able to help defeat the monster. Beowulf was bitten in the neck by the dragon and the poisonous venom proved to be fatal. Although Beowulf died because of the venomous bite from the dragon, the message is deeper. Pride caused Beowulf to attempt to fight the dragon alone even after help was offered; pride ultimately lead to King Beowulfs death.
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