Nearing the end of Beowulf, the hero’s ostensible immortality comes to an end with his violent battle against the dragon. Suffering from mortal wounds, Beowulf speaks his last words, “Now I must follow them” (2816). Beowulf is referring to the men in his clan who have died before him, men who have been sent “to their final doom” (2816). This line as it appears in the story is an important one simply because the death of the hero invites the inevitable cycle of doom to continue. As far as attempting to identify the major theme of the story, the reader may be able to narrow down from the several possibilities when these words are spoken. The theme of doom is stretched throughout the story and whether it is a scene of drunken celebration or somber gathering, images of fate and insinuations of impending tragedy are included. For instance, following Beowulf’s death is the scene of his funeral where Wiglaf, instead of offering some words of closure for those mourning the hero’s death, “spoke disdainfully and in disappointment” because those who fought were unable to help preserve the life of their king (2863). Wiglaf’s words wield more sting than any others in the poem. In spite of this, the sense of doom is not left out as he relates the weakness of their clan without having a king. He even relates his own certainty of their fate in saying “our whole nation, will be dispossessed” (2887-88). All this is evidence that the viewpoint of the writer is that other than the cycle of doom, all things come to an end.
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