beowulf the last battle summary
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King Hrothgar, the ruler of the Danes, is troubled by the rampages of a demon named Grendel. Every night, Grendel attacks King Hrothgar's wealthy mead-hall, Heorot, killing Danish warriors and sometimes even eating them.
Hrothgar was a great warrior in his time, but now he's an old king and can't seem to protect his people. Fortunately, a young Geat warrior named Beowulf travels to Heorot Hall from his own lands overseas to lend a helping hand—literally.
Unfortunately, Grendel has an overprotective mother who decides to avenge her son. While all the warriors are sleeping off the party, she attacks Heorot Hall. But when the warriors wake up, she panics and flees back to her lair, a cave underneath a nearby lake.
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King Hrothgar of Denmark, a descendant of the great king Shield Sheafson, enjoys a prosperous and successful reign. He builds a great mead-hall, called Heorot, where his warriors can gather to drink, receive gifts from their lord, and listen to stories sung by the scops, or bards. But the jubilant noise from Heorot angers Grendel, a horrible demon who lives in the swamplands of Hrothgar’s kingdom. Grendel terrorizes the Danes every night, killing them and defeating their efforts to fight back. The Danes suffer many years of fear, danger, and death at the hands of Grendel. Eventually, however, a young Geatish warrior named Beowulf hears of Hrothgar’s plight. Inspired by the challenge, Beowulf sails to Denmark with a small company of men, determined to defeat Grendel.
Hrothgar, who had once done a great favor for Beowulf’s father Ecgtheow, accepts Beowulf’s offer to fight Grendel and holds a feast in the hero’s honor. During the feast, an envious Dane named Unferth taunts Beowulf and accuses him of being unworthy of his reputation. Beowulf responds with a boastful description of some of his past accomplishments. His confidence cheers the Danish warriors, and the feast lasts merrily into the night. At last, however, Grendel arrives. Beowulf fights him unarmed, proving himself stronger than the demon, who is terrified. As Grendel struggles to escape, Beowulf tears the monster’s arm off. Mortally wounded, Grendel slinks back into the swamp to die. The severed arm is hung high in the mead-hall as a trophy of victory.
Overjoyed, Hrothgar showers Beowulf with gifts and treasure at a feast in his honor. Songs are sung in praise of Beowulf, and the celebration lasts late into the night. But another threat is approaching. Grendel’s mother, a swamp-hag who lives in a desolate lake, comes to Heorot seeking revenge for her son’s death. She murders Aeschere, one of Hrothgar’s most trusted advisers, before slinking away. To avenge Aeschere’s death, the company travels to the murky swamp, where Beowulf dives into the water and fights Grendel’s mother in her underwater lair. He kills her with a sword forged for a giant, then, finding Grendel’s corpse, decapitates it and brings the head as a prize to Hrothgar. The Danish countryside is now purged of its treacherous monsters.
The Danes are again overjoyed, and Beowulf’s fame spreads across the kingdom. Beowulf departs after a sorrowful goodbye to Hrothgar, who has treated him like a son. He returns to Geatland, where he and his men are reunited with their king and queen, Hygelac and Hygd, to whom Beowulf recounts his adventures in Denmark. Beowulf then hands over most of his treasure to Hygelac, who, in turn, rewards him.
In time, Hygelac is killed in a war against the Shylfings, and, after Hygelac’s son dies, Beowulf ascends to the throne of the Geats. He rules wisely for fifty years, bringing prosperity to Geatland. When Beowulf is an old man, however, a thief disturbs a barrow, or mound, where a great dragon lies guarding a horde of treasure. Enraged, the dragon emerges from the barrow and begins unleashing fiery destruction upon the Geats. Sensing his own death approaching, Beowulf goes to fight the dragon. With the aid of Wiglaf, he succeeds in killing the beast, but at a heavy cost. The dragon bites Beowulf in the neck, and its fiery venom kills him moments after their encounter. The Geats fear that their enemies will attack them now that Beowulf is dead. According to Beowulf’s wishes, they burn their departed king’s body on a huge funeral pyre and then bury him with a massive treasure in a barrow overlooking the sea.
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Beowulf confronting the dragon
After fighting both Grendel and his mother, Beowulf ascends to the throne of the Geats. He rules wisely for 50 years, bringing prosperity to Geatland. When Beowulf is an old man, a dragon that lies guarding a horde of treasure is disturbed. The dragon then becomes enraged and begins unleashing fiery destruction upon the Geats.
- Beowulf wishes to fight this battle alone although, he tells his soldiers to remain close by
- Beowulf challenges the dragon who in turn angrily emerges from his den
- During the battle, the dragon blew fire but instead of protecting him, Beowulf's shield melted
- Next, Beowulf tries to strike the dragon with his sword and he drew blood but his sword failed him before he had the chance to do any real damage
- Beowulf feels abandoned by his weapons and falls back which encourages the dragon to keep advancing
- His followers were so scared that they ran away deep into the wood
- Only Wiglaf stays, chiding the other warriors and reminding them of their oaths of loyal service to Beowulf
- "I'd use no sword, no weapon, if this beast/ Could be killed without it" (630-631)
-This quote is key because it leads the reader to truly understand the threat that this dragon poses not only to the Geats but to Beowulf himself
- "i'd rather burn myself than see/ Flames swirling around my lord" (763-764)
-This quote is key because it demonstrates Wiglaf's loyalty to Beowulf which is one of elements that defines the Heroic Ideal
What is the main conflict in the last battle of "Beowulf"?
According to the text of the poem, the main conflict in the last battle of "Beowulf" is between Beowulf and the dragon. Aided by a young noble named Wiglaf, Beowulf fights a dragon that has been terrorizing the land of the Geats, over which Beowulf rules as king. Though he succeeds in defeating the monster, he dies himself, leaving his people in grief.
How does "Beowulf" reflect the Anglo-Saxon culture?
What is a summary of the theme of "Beowulf"?
As the text of "Beowulf" demonstrates, the final conflict in which the hero engages differs greatly from the first two conflicts. First of all, the first two battles have very different settings. They take place in Hrothgar's land when Beowulf is a young man. The last, however, takes place in Beowulf's own country, the land of the Geats, when Beowulf is an old king. The first two battles are with vaguely humanoid creatures, Grender and Grendel's mother, while the last is with a great dragon. Beowulf's first battles are solo affairs, but in the last battle, he is unable to defeat the dragon without the aid of his young helper, Wiglaf. Though he tried to take the great beast alone, he falters early in the encounter. Wiglaf, the only one of his men not to flee from the dragon in terror, sees Beowulf's need and rushes up to hack at the dragon, giving Beowulf the opportunity to continue his attack and conquer the creature. Finally, this last battle results in the hero's death. In some ways, the last battle is also a conflict between pride and old age, for Beowulf believes that he can defeat the dragon alone, but this pride results in his own demise.
Beowulf Essay Sample: The Last Battle
What Is Significant about the Last Battle in Beowulf?
Beowulf is a hero of the Anglo-Saxon epic poem, which is known for his bravery, love for his people and willingness to die for it. In his time it was considered worthy to die in battle than to live a long and happy life. Therefore, Beowulf as a true leader and warrior fights every time for life and death.
Beowulf entered into mortal combat with the evil for three times. It is evil, not just an enemy, which is equal in strength, status and endurance. His enemy was evil in various guises: Grendel and his mother, and the dragon. The courage and strength helped Beowulf to overcome Grendel and his mother, and protect his people. But the battle with the dragon caught the main character in the twilight of his valiant and glorious life, when Beowulf was ready to leave this world in battle and earn Valhalla. Dragon was a worthy opponent. Beowulf fought to the last breath, despite the broken sword, deadly wound, and betrayal of his people (Abraham, 1993). His struggle can be considered as a feat in order to save and protect his people.
The last battle is significant in many respects. Despite the fact that the warriors were afraid of the dragon, and left their leader, Beowulf felt responsible for their lives and lives of his people. This heroic act deserves immense respect and glory. Also this battle helped to understand and determine who in fact could become a worthy successor of Beowulf. After all, only Wiglaf remained faithful to his leader and helped him in battle. In addition, the dragon is also the embodiment of universal evil, with Beowulf has to fight. This distinguishes him from the rest of the warriors and raises to the rank of hero (Lawson, 2016). In general, the final battle is a prime example of good and evil struggle in which, no matter what, the good wins.
Abraham, L. (1993). The Decorum of ‘Beowulf.’. Philological Quarterly, 72(3), 267. Retrieved from https://www.questia.com/library/journal/1G1-15411924/the-decorum-of-beowulf
Beowulf (modern English translation) by Anonymous : The Poetry Foundation. (2016).
Poetryfoundation.org. Retrieved 7 April 2016, from http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/180445
Lawson, R. (2016). Exclusive Medieval Articles – Beowulf: Recognizing the Past. Shadowedrealm.com. Retrieved 7 April 2016, from http://www.shadowedrealm.com/medieval-articles/exclusive/beowulf_recognizing_the_past
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