The poem Beowulf, believed to be written between 650 and 800 by a group of monks, contains several complex characters that have sparked discussions throughout the years. Scholars still continue to ponder over the unanswered questions about characters, such as whether Grendel is monster or human, whether Grendel is evil or not, and what the monsters in Beowulf signify. Other important, though less accepted questions include whether Beowulf is really a hero, or is in actuality a monster, and what allows the characters to be classified as either evil, or not evil. Because both sides of these arguments can be sufficiently supported with textual evidence, it is the reader's responsibility to defend an appropriate answer. There are no possible arguments critics could make to prove the dragon in Beowulf is not a monster that represents the evil in money. Also, it is generally accepted that Grendel is a monster that represents the evil of the Danes' society, for few critics argue this fact. However, because it is generally accepted that Beowulf is a hero, no critics argue that the he is actually a monster that represents the evil in pride.
The most undisputed monster of the poem is the "slick- skinned
" dragon "
with streamers of fire" (Beowulf 155) that appears at the end of the poem, and eventually kills Beowulf. There is no possible argument one could make that the dragon is not a monster. However, the dragon is still important to the poem, and it still presents an important form of evil. The dragon is the representation of the evil of money in the story, or in other words the greed gold causes. The dragon "
guarded a hoard
" (Beowulf 151), and Beowulf died in an effort to kill the dragon and take the gold he so jealously guarded. Because of Beowulf's and the dragon's need for the money, they put their lives on the line, and ultimately die for the money. Which is ironic, for when they are both dying the money is brought out, and it is corroded and worthless, which symbolizes the worthlessness of all money. This theme is previously presented by the man who buries the treasure in the first place, realizing that the money is no good without people to use it. This is possibly foreshadowing the fact that now that Beowulf is dead his people will die as a result of the invasions they face. This proves that the money was not worth fighting and dying for, because money is worthless when no one is alive to use it. As has been presented, the dragon reveals the evil in money, and the tragedies it can cause.
There is enough textual evidence provided in the poem of Beowulf for the reader to assume that Grendel is a monster, which few critics argue. As a means of backing this up, the reader can point out direct statements in the poem, for example, several times Grendel is called "
a fiend out of hell," who is trying to "
work his evil in the world" (Beowulf 9), and a "
God- cursed brute
" (Beowulf 49). One can also utilize the direct descriptions of Grendel, for he is described as being strong enough to "
grab thirty men from their resting places and rush to his lair
" (Beowulf 11), which is hardly humanlike. Along with these direct statements that Grendel is a monster, there are several facts that are not directly stated, however, they are essential to Grendel's classification. There are several indirect statements in the poem that help to classify Grendel as a monster. For example, there is much depravation in Grendel's life that separates him from the other human beings of that time period. Such as the fact that Grendel is a loner, banished from society, which shows that Grendel has no human communications, which is doubtlessly not a humanlike characteristic. Grendel also has no father, but instead has only a mother, which is bizarre because many of the other characters introduce themselves as "son of ____", and indeed, despite the fact that Beowulf's father is dead, he is often referred to as, "
Please join StudyMode to read the full document