Beowulf: the Story of a Dual Ordeal
Beowulf can be analyzed in an endless numbers of ways. There are different morals, themes, and meanings behind the story. A common meaning, maybe even the most important, is the dual ordeal in Beowulf. The dual ordeal is an external battle with vicious opponents and an internal battle with human tendencies of pride, greed, cowardice, betrayal, and self concern. Each external battle Beowulf wins, his internal battle grows. Beowulf’s external conflicts are part of what creates his internal conflict. Beowulf must defeat the monster Grendel whom had been killing men in the middle of the night and taking their bodies. Beowulf heard how Grendel was filling nights with horror so he commanded a boat so he could go see king Hrothgar. ” (Beowulf 23) He had fought and killed monsters before, but none were on the scale of Grendel. He fought Grendel with no weapons leaving only his hands to kill the monster. “Had he met a man whose hands were harder…. but nothing could take his talons and himself from that tight grip. Grendel’s one thought was to run from Beowulf, flee back to his marsh and hide there. ” (Beowulf 33) Grendel had never been challenged this way before, causing Beowulf’s tactic to pay off. The sounds changed, the Danes started in new terror, cowering in their beds as the terrible screams of the Almighty’s enemy sang in the darkness, the horrible shreaks of pain and defeat, the tears torn out of Grendel’s taut throat, hell’s captive caught in the arms of him who of all the men on earth was the strongest. ” (Beowulf 33-34) Beowulf killed the mighty monster creating an internal battle. Beowulf had much pride, which was rare for his time. His pride is always fighting his responsibility to the people around him. He never asks for help, even if he may need it.
Beowulf is reckless and races Brecca in the open sea for seven days to satisfy a foolish bet. His pride was the reason he battled all the monsters. He wanted to secure the protection of his people. After hearing about Grendel, he immediately rounded up the fourteen best Geats and set off to do what he believed was the right thing. “He chose the mightiest men he could find, the bravest and the best of the Geats, fourteen in all, and led them down to their boat…”(Beowulf 23) Beowulf’s internal pride suggested he use no weapons, just his hands. He believed if he had fate on his side, no weapons were necessary. Beowulf’s pride is what ed him to be king of the Geats and his name and stories to continue on. Beowulf faces the internal conflicts, self concern and betrayal, when he is much older and king. Even though he was much older he decided to battle a fire dragon because he was his people’s hero. Though Beowulf had helped so many people when he was young and strong, none of his comrades came to help him. Instead, they ran for their lives. “And only one of them remained, stood there, miserable, remembering as a good man must, what kinship should mean. ” (Beowulf 43) Beowulf and his one comrade, Wiglaf, kill the dragon, but Beowulf is injured and soon dies.
The last internal conflict Beowulf has before he dies is the betrayal of his people. Until Beowulf died, his internal battles and external battles were never ending. Once he won an external battle, his external battle, pride, would only get bigger. This would go on and on until his last battle where he finally fails due to the betrayal of his people. The one time Beowulf needed the Geats, they ran like cowards resulting in their almighty kings death. Without Beowulf’s internal and external battles he would have never lived in fame and his name wouldn’t have been carried on.