In the epic poem Beowulf there is a more universal understanding that can be seen once a reader has taken the time to look deeper into the text of the poem. A characters intentions are not always seen instantaneously. To understand the full meaning of why someone might go out of their way to help another is not always in the kindness of their own heart. A more intense and complicated plot is behind the thoughts of a character named Beowulf. Everything he does always has a catch to it and requires more then a personal thank you.
In the poem Beowulf has three battles against foes. The first foe that he encountered was the man beast Grendel. Grendel lived in Denmark, which was a great distance from Beowulf’s homeland. On his journey to Grendel he came upon and slayed nicors. Nicors are sea demons and their occurrence in his journey brought Beowulf more honors.
The significance of Beowulf’s journey and the killing of those beasts was that they brought him glory. This glory was not only shown through his pride although it was also shown through the inhabatince of the land towards Beowulf. The people of the land also gave him precious gifts. These gifts brought out the self-centered and materialistic sides of Beowulf. He didn’t slay Grendel to help the people, because his intentions of getting a reward were not accepted out of the kindness of his heart. They were accepted in the sense that he knew that he deserved them and that they should be required to pay him tribute to his greatness.
The following foe the Beowulf slayed was Grendel’s mother. His mother wasn’t of any threat to the Danes until Beowulf killed her son. This caused a sedate and low key monster to take offense to the people who she has never tried to revenge against. Beowulf’s ways in which he killed Grendel would be offensive to any parent either human or beast. When your sons arm is seen lying torn off his body symbolizing the greatness of his death and the excellence of a human being revenge is the only answer to the situation.
The point in which Beowulf was trying to make when killing Grendel’s mother was that he was showing them that he not only got rid of their biggest problem but he got rid of the following problem as well. He knew that if he slayed the mother following the son that a more exceptional reward would be given to him. The battle with the mother was more intense then the battle with Grendel because it took place underwater and in that place Beowulf found the deceased body of Grendel. To tip off his fame amongst the Danes he cut off Gredel’s head and returned home with it to signify his notability once again.
Since the first and second beasts were off the hands of the Danes and Beowulf has receive enough personal gratification to meet his needs he now travels back home. All of his gifts of gratitude are brought back with him and a few outstanding items are given to the king in honor of Beowulf’s loyalty towards him, although his intentions are not what they seem. His true intentions are to rule the kingdom and he does get his wish once the king dies in battle. While Beowulf is king the people gain much security in him due to his strength in battle. Knowing that Beowulf is less likely to be defeated in battle causes the people to want to treat him better because of the protection that he posses.
The last foe the Beowulf goes into battle with is the fire-breathing dragon. The dragon has been in slumber for 300 years until one of Beowulf’s peasants disturbs him by stealing his gold from his cave. Once this occurs the dragon periodically comes out of the cave and torments the Geats. Since the dragon is disturbing Beowulf’s people he takes it upon himself to slay the dragon, although this will end up being the last battle that he is going to be alive to fight in. Once he returns home he dies shortly after asking to see the treasure that he has won from fighting the dragon.
In the battle between the dragon and Beowulf him wanting to see his treasure before he dies acknowledges his materialistic ways. He doesn’t ask to see any of his loved ones of the people who have been with him along his journeys, he asks to see what is in his possession before he dies. Beginning the battle he shows his loyalty to his people although his people don’t show loyalty towards him because when he went to fight the dragon majority of them ran away. Therefore, Beowulf’s dignity and strength traits are not passed on to majority his people and they are only supporting him when they are not involved in dangerous battles.
Beowulf wanted to be appreciated. He knew that his strength was rare and he wanted to be treated as a rare stone would be treated. Everything that he did had to be praised and had to have treasure in the end or it wouldn’t be good enough for Beowulf. The fact that he made his people build him a grave and put all of his treasures in it with him shows that his peoples love towards him was not voluntary given. He forced the people to understand that with out him they were nothing and that they would be unable to survive in battle with out him. I believe that he made himself out to be more then he was to make himself feel more out of the crowd then anyone else that obtained a special talent.
A person’s innermost feelings are never clearly visible physically. To understand how a person thinks and why they feel the way that they feel is a very hard task. One may never understand the human feelings and what their results may concluded too, although ones inner thoughts or feelings (such as Beowulf’s) may bring upon a deeper level of frustration. In the epic poem of Beowulf such human actions are expresses once a reader looks deeper into the poems story to see that there are more interpretations that can be made on a larger, more universal level.
Courtney from Study Moose
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