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I could not understand why Tolkien had insisted that there were only two important monsters, Grendel and the Dragon, to match the two great heroic moments, rising and falling, in Beowulf’s life, when it was obvious there were three major fights with monsters in the poem. Because of this, in my essay I argued that, just as the monsters Grendel and the Dragon anti-typed the roles of the Anglo-Saxon warrior and king – an idea highlighted in the imagery found in the Old English words describing them and their battles with Beowulf – so also Grendel’s Mother monstrously anti-typed that of the Anglo-Saxon female peace-weaver. Ideally, the peace-weaver harmonized relations between inferior and superior classes of warrior in the tribe through cup-passing at feasts and the peace-pledge united warring nations by marriage and progeny. I argued that the poet renders Grendel’s Mother in the construction of the second fight as an ironic peace-weaver, cup-passer, and peace-pledge through its imagery and symbolism. I published this essay in an academic journal in 1978, but its revision from seminar paper to article also catalyzed the writing of my third book, Woman as Hero in Old English Literature (1986), at a time that other Old English scholars were beginning to see that women in other Old English poems had been neglected in scholarship. The Grendel’s Mother essay (and book chapter) came to be reprinted in five other collections of essays on Beowulf, most recently, in the Norton anthology on Beowulf with the Seamus Heaney translation.
essay on beowulf :: Epic of Beowulf Essays
A true hero does not fear death or, but instead risks all that he is for what he believes to be right, moral, and just. Beowulf is an epic and tells the story of a legendary hero, conquering all obstacles as if he was immortal. Up until the end of Beowulf's life he was constantly looking to be the hero. However, his humanity is exposed by his death. Heroes all share the characteristic of their willingness to die in their effort to accomplish their heroic act, thus making the act in itself heroic. Throughout the epic, Beowulf in many ways exhibited all the qualities and characteristics needed to be a true hero. Beowulf was passed on from person to person. Beowulf possesses the superhuman abilities, and the amazing power to hold his breath under water for an unlimited period of time. It is easy to feel that these characteristics separate from the realistic nature of the story, and gives the impression that Beowulf is more like a myth than a man. In the epic Beowulf, he's portrayed as almost inhumane, but clearly fulfilled his role as a true hero. Beowulf has a strong belief in fate. If he dies in battle he believes it's because it is his destiny to do so. "Fate will unwind as it must!" He realizes the dangers but fears nothing for his own life. This is what makes Beowulf a true hero. Even after serving his people as King of the Geats for fifty years, he goes to battle in hopes, or fate, to destroy a dragon who is terrifying all of his people. At this point however, Beowulf is old and tired but still manages to defeat the dragon in order to protect his people. The most heroic of traits within Beowulf is that he is not afraid to die. He always explains his death wishes before going into battle and requests to have any assets delivered to his people. "And if death does take me, send the hammered mail of my armor to Higlac...". Beowulf is a hero in the eyes of his fellow men through his amazing physical strength. He fought in numerous battles and...