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Beowulf's Confidence in the Epic Poem

Categories: Literature

Beowulf was written in the earliest age of English poetry. Back in the Anglo-Saxon times, in order to make a name for themselves, warriors had to fight in battles. They believe that you should fight until death with absolutely no retreating. Beowulf, a young Geatish warrior, comes to Hrothgar’s kingdom to return a favor to him. While Beowulf is there, he fights in two battles; the battle with Grendel and the battle with Grendel’s mother. Much later in the poem, he fights in his third battle, defeating the dragon harming his country.

Beowulf’s confidence decreases as each battle occurs.

How Beowulf’s Confidence Changes from Battle to Battle

In Beowulf’s battle with Grendel, Beowulf is extremely confident. This confidence is very apparent in his attitude. When he first comes to Hrothgar’s court, he tells him that he had “firm resolve when [he] set to sea” (Beowulf 22). This confidence is also apparent in Beowulf’s preparation. He chooses to abandon his armor and weapons in the fight.

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He very dramatically “[strips] from his shoulders the byrny of steel, / [doffs] helmet from head” (23). Beowulf has a huge advantage on Grendel because he is very strong. He is so strong that the people of his country say that his handgrip is equivalent to that of “thirty men’s strength” (15). Beowulf’s confidence is extremely evident as he prepares to fight Grendel.

Beowulf prepares differently in the fight with Grendel’s mother because he is not as confident as he was in the first battle.

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Beowulf’s attitude while talking to Hrothgar is less confident due to the fact he is not sure of how the battle will end. He has Hrothgar pledge to “Protect [his] kinsmen, [his] trusty comrades, / If battle take [him]” (48). Beowulf also shows his confidence lessening by deciding to use armor and weapons in the battle. To prepare for the battle, he “[dons] his armor” (47) with “A gleaming helmet” (47) and “the sword the herald of Hrothgar loaned” (47). Beowulf is still somewhat strong compared to his last battle. When Grendel’s mother “[grapples] and [grasps] the warrior / With horror grip” (48, 49) and tries to “tear through the tempered mail / With her savage fingers” (49), she cannot harm him. Beowulf’s confidence is not as apparent in the second battle with Grendel’s mother.

Beowulf’s confidence continues to decrease as the battle with the dragon occurs. Beowulf’s attitude was extremely negative. His heart “[is] heavy with anguish” (75). Beowulf’s confidence level is so low that he has special armor prepared for him. The king “bade work him of iron a wondrous shield, / Knowing full well that wood could not serve him / Nor linden defend him” (75) against the dragon. Beowulf’s strength has drastically changed since the beginning of the first battle. Rather than having the grip of “thirty men’s strength” (15), Beowulf “[trusts] the strength / Of his single might” (82). Beowulf shows little to no confidence in the battle with the dragon.


Beowulf’s confidence lessens as each battle approaches. He goes from being a great, bold warrior with much confidence, to an old, fragile king with very little confidence. Beowulf comes to a point of weakness where he can no longer defend for himself and needs help from fellow warriors, like Wiglef. His confidence adjusted so extremely that he goes into the last battle expecting a not so good outcome. At the end of the battle with the dragon, Beowulf passes away, with his weakness and little confidence being a huge factor.

Cite this page

Beowulf's Confidence in the Epic Poem. (2016, Apr 02). Retrieved from

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