Beowulf’s Battles Nowadays, there are many action movies where a hero is thrown into numerous physically challenging feats. These movies are always interesting to watch, and unfortunately it is rare to find a poem that captures that same success. However, the Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf proves otherwise. The poem is a timeless thriller, about a courageous hero battling against evil demons and impossible brawls. Each battle seems to be more exhilarating than the last, most of which comes from the outstanding setting.
Without the setting, Beowulf would not have the same thrill; the setting helps set up the dramatic effects of each battle. Beowulf was constantly taking on spectacular and adventurous challenges. His uprising fame was beginning to strike jealousy into the soul of one of the King’s advisors, named Unferth. Unferth became so envious towards him that he taunted Beowulf relentlessly and mocked him one evening in Heorot Hall. Unferth told the whole hall how Beowulf had once lost a swimming competition against Breca, and how he would most likely lose to Grendel.
With confidence, Beowulf deflects Unferth’s remarks and begins to tell the epic story of the swim match. Beowulf first describes the harsh conditions he had to face the entire match, telling Unferth about, “the long flow and pitch of the waves, the perishing cold…winds from the north tore [Breca and I] up” (Beowulf 545). According to Beowulf, the match took place during a blistery, violent storm, making it much harder to swim. Since the battle was a dramatic scene and extremely strenuous, it is imperative to know the setting so the reader can recognize how heroic Beowulf really was.
The setting of this battle would prove to Unferth how extremely thrilling the fight was. Beowulf’s first battle would be the struggle that would prove to everyone how mighty he truly was. The title character heard about the wretched demon that was terrorizing the famous Heorot Hall and was determined to conquer him. This hall was used to bond King Hrothgar with his people; it was a place for the men to gather together and drink beer. In this place, religion was highly talked about and the people praised their gods.
The evil hell-demon Grendel, despised hearing about gods and listening to the people having a good time in the Hall. Grendel was descended from evil and it, “harrowed him to hear the din of the loud banquet hall, the harp being struck and the clear song of the skilled poet” (Beowulf 87). The demon despised glee and happiness, making him consider he had a reason to terrorize the people residing in the hall. This would soon become a crisis for all that reigned in Heorot Hall.
Grendel was so bitter towards the gleefulness that eventually he would attack everyone in the hall just because they were joyful. If the hall was not a place of religion and bliss, the demon would not have minded it at all. Furthermore, the setting of Heorot Hall is important so a reader will know why Grendel and Beowulf would epically battle in the upcoming future. As Grendel was overpowered by the hero Beowulf, a new monster would begin to reign, bringing forth a new dramatic setting for a brawl.
The battle against Grendel’s mother was one of Beowulf’s most challenging fights. For Beowulf to defeat his opponent, he would have to travel through dangerous areas to get to her. Beowulf had to trek into the mere, which was illustrated as having murky and burning water. It was haunted and untraveled; it was said that the “mere bottom had never been sounded by the sons of men” (Beowulf 1366). When Beowulf had to fight Grendel in Heorot Hall, it was easier for him to fight there because he knew the surroundings quite well.
But fighting Grendel’s mother would be more difficult as he traveled through uncharted waters into her lair. Because Beowulf was not fighting on land, the battle was much more intense as he had to hold his breath underwater, in the underworld, for a prolonged amount of time. It is imperative to know where the battle took place so that the reader can comprehend the story clearer. Without knowing the setting of the battle, a reader would not know that the struggle underwater was a great and remarkable deal.
Beowulf is an epic poem with many impressive accounts of heroic feats. It tells of a fearless hero fighting for glory and honor. If a reader did not know the background of the poem, it would not be apparent as to why certain things happened the way they did. The dramatic set up of the fight against Breca, the gleeful setting of Heorot Hall and the disastrous location of the mere are all important backgrounds that a reader would have to know. The setting is important because without it, the fights in Beowulf would not seem as astounding as they are portrayed.