Beowulf Analytical Essay

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“There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil.” – Ayn Rand. To fully understand the complex world and culture of the Anglo-Saxons, one must examine the only form of historical evidence available – texts. One particular great work from this time period is often underrated and overshadowed in modern society by many other ancient works such as Iliad or Oedipus Rex. The epic poem, Beowulf, was sung by multiple unknown Anglo-Saxon poets four centuries before the Norman Conquest. The theme of good versus evil was constantly reappearing throughout the storyline, the portrayal of evil and its downfall initially shaped the poem’s plot, and illustrates an alien presence; something that is socially unaccepted in society that must be removed to ensure the safety of the common good.

The theme of Beowulf is a contrast of good and evil, which is present in both Christian and Pagan beliefs. Beowulf is the central character who embodies the characteristics of an ideal protagonist and hero of an Anglo-Saxon tale, and Grendel is a demon “who haunted the moors / the wild marches, and made his home in a hell / Not hell but earth…conceived by a pair of those monsters born / Of Cain, murderous creatures banished / By God” (99-107). The readers see that the classic Schylding hero is courageous – almost in a brash fashion – with his quests, and gladly accepting fate as it is, choosing to battle evil. Grendel is also seemingly immune to various man-made weapons, “for that sin-stained demon / Had bewitched all men’s weapons, laid spells / That blunted every mortal man’s blade” (802-804), and could only be killed with brute strength. The character Grendel portrayed the vision of ultimate evil of mankind during the era the poem was composed – lurker of darkness, unconquerable in battles, incontrollable wrath, and a ruthless murderer of unsuspecting humans, specifically to the warriors at Herot. Herot, Hrothgar’s mead-hall,...
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