"Good vs. Evil" in Beowulf

Topics: Beowulf, Grendel, Hero / Pages: 5 (1465 words) / Published: May 14th, 2005
"Good vs. Evil" in Beowulf

Beowulf is longest and greatest early Anglo-Saxon poem which was composed in England sometime in the eighth century AD by a literate scop. This poem was created in the oral poetic tradition. This poem is considered as an epic because it is a long narrative poem which composed in an elevated style, dealing with the glories of hero (Tolkien 24). The setting of this epic is the six century in Denmark and southern Sweden. The protagonist, Beowulf is a noble warrior represents the goodness battles against the evil monsters- Grendel, Grendel 's mother and the fiery dragon in order to save his country. Beowulf 's victory over Grendel and his mother shows the power of goodness can defeat the evil forces. Even though Beowulf is killed by the dragon in the end, his heroic death fulfills with courage and glory. He is selfless, even sacrifice himself in order to save his people 's lives; he is loyal to his kingdom all his life (Niles 89). His triumph of glory exposes the major theme of the epic. A major them in Beowulf is "Good vs. Evil" because the warrior Beowulf battles against God ' enemies in order to save God 's people.

Beowulf kills Grendel and becomes a noble hero. The first monster Grendel, "a walker of darkness, he who bides in darkness and the black nights; he is the greatest of the night 's evil" (Halverson 100). Grendel is descended from Cain who has been banished by God far from humankind settles the wilderness after his crime of murdering his brother (Magennis 123). Grendel is a "joyless den" (Halverson 100); he is jealous of the happiness in the noble place, hall Heorot; therefore, his hatred drives him to attack the heroic society as a rejection of God. As John Leyerle in his work, The Conflicting Demands of Heroic Strength and Kingly Wisdom states, " Grendel is opposed to God, evil incarnate, and his destruction by Beowulf is a triumph of heroic goodness over devilish evil" (57). This evil monster devours the flesh, blood and



Cited: Beowulf. Trans. by Burton Rafil. Holt Press, New York, 1984. Chance, Jane. "Grendel 's Mother and the Women in Beowulf." Readings on Beowulf. Ed. Bruno Leone, Brenda Stalcup, and Stephen P. Thompson. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1998. 107-111. Halverson, John. "The Struggle between Order and Chaos in Beowulf." Readings on Beowulf. Ed. Bruno Leone, Brenda Stalcup, and Stephen P. Thompson. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1998. 99-106. Huppe, Bernard F. "The Failure of the Heoric Ideal." Readings on Beowulf. Ed. Bruno Leone, Brenda Stalcup, and Stephen P. Thompson. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1998. 82-88. Kaske, R. E. "The Governing Theme of Beowulf." Beowulf: The Donaldson Translation Backgrounds and Sources Criticism. Ed. Joseph F. Tuso. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, INC, 1975. 118-131. Layerle, John. "The Conflicting Demands of Heroic Strength and Kingly Wisdom." Readings on Beowulf. Ed. Bruno Leone, Brenda Stalcup, and Stephen P. Thompson. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1998. 56-62. Magennis, Hugh. "Treachery and Betrayal in Beowulf." Readings on Beowulf. Ed. Bruno Leone, Brenda Stalcup, and Stephen P. Thompson. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1998. 120-124. Niles, John D. "The Fata Contradiction in Beowulf." Readings on Beowulf. Ed. Bruno Leone, Brenda Stalcup, and Stephen P. Thompson. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1998. 89-97. Nitzsche, Jane C. "The Structural Unity of Beowulf." The Problem of Grendel 's Mother Fall, 1980: 22. : 287-303. Online Edition. Gale, 2003. Literature Resource Center. Thomson Gale. 11 Apr 2005 . Swanton, Michael. "The Heroic Standards of Beowulf 's World." Readings on Beowulf. Ed. Bruno Leone, Brenda Stalcup, and Stephen P. Thompson. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1998. 74-81. Tolkien, J. R.R. "Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics." Beowulf: The Donaldson Translation Backgrounds and Sources Criticism. Ed. Joseph F. Tuso. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, INC, 1975. 105-113. Tolkien, J.R.R. "Beowulf as a Heroic-Elegiac Poem." Readings on Beowulf. Ed. Bruno Leone, Brenda Stalcup, and Stephen P. Thompson. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1998. 24-30.

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