Beowulf – The Three Evil and Powerful Monsters

Beowulf – The Three Evil and Powerful Monsters

 

The Epic of Beowulf is probably the most important epic in the World of the old English Literature. As a person who has limited skills of modern English and completely ignorant of the old English language, I found this epic not rhythmical enough for me to read and follow. Below is a video¬†showing the written language and the audio of the original old English version, which sounds totally like a different language from English to me. I hope we can have more discussion about this in class. However, I love the language and word choices in Heaney’s translation of Beowulf very much, particularly in those parts he was introducing the three monsters – Grendel, Grendel’s mother and the Dragon, which I will discuss in detail below.

Video from YouTube: The Epic of Beowulf – Original Text and Audio

 

As we start reading the Epic of Beowulf, a glorious world of Danes dated back to more than a thousand years ago is revealed to us. Such flourishing nation deserve her people to have parties and celebrations all the time, however, a monster named Grendel disrupted everything. Here comes the portray of Grendel – a prefect use of metaphors to compare between the people of Danes singing and celebrating happily as angels in paradise and Grendel coming as a “grim demon, haunting the marches, marauding round the heath and the desolate fens”, as well as the metaphor of the unforgiveable Cain from Genesis (114). This metaphor and comparison is very lively to help put the people of Danes and Beowulf in the camp of righteousness and effectively increased Beowulf’s heroic image later on.

 

The second monster is Grendel’s mother. She was a “monstrous hell-bride, brooded on her wrongs” (142). Here in this part, the epic also mentioned Cain to echo with the description of Grendel above. Both Grendel and his mother came from hell – they are evils. Grendel’s mother is also a more powerful monster than Grendel, as Beowulf’s sword can defeat Grendel but not Grendel’s mother. Eventually, the sword Beowulf used to defeat the female monster “wilt into gory icicles to slather and thaw” (149) – the huge and evil power of the monster’s blood was not described directly, instead it is revealed in this way.

 

The last one is the dragon. It is the ultimate monster which caused Beowulf’s death. First of all the dragon is also described as evil as a “convention” in this epic to contrast Beowulf’s justice. The dragon’s power is described in several ways: first, the dragon is able to blow out fire to destroy everything; second, Beowulf’s fellows fleeted during the war with the dragon; third, the kind’s most powerful sword is broken during the battle. Throughout all these battles Beowulf is effectively contrasted as the genuine hero who is equipped with wisdom, power and braveness, standing at the front line of justice until he dies.

 

3 thoughts on “Beowulf – The Three Evil and Powerful Monsters

  1. Beowulf is a heroism epic. While reading this epic, I felt I was reading a story of monarchism age’s kings and worriers. Beowulf, who defeats Grendel and Grendel’s mother and becomes a hero, seems like a king from monarchism age, and worriers fighting with Beowulf, are like the king’s knights. The worriers believe in their king, pledge allegiance, go into battles with (Well, but not in the fighting with the dragon…) and the king promises worriers honor and gifts. Beowulf shows that a hero is made from worriers’ deed and king’s word.

    Beowulf is indeed a great hero who keeps his word , seek honor and regards it the most important thing. It seems like that since honor is the most important for Beowulf, and he believes that his name will be remembered by descendants, he chooses to fight against the dragon even though other worriers flee, and he knows he will die in fighting with it.

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