The Distinguished Characteristics of Beowulf vs. Grendel
?Jongwon Josh Lee Dr. Weibly English IV 4 November, 2012 The Distinguished Characteristics of Beowulf vs. Grendel In Beowulf, the hero defeats the “corpse-maker”, Grendel. Of Beowulf’s three battles, the fight with Grendel has the most significance. Both Grendel and Beowulf emerge unexpectedly, foreigners who respectively destroy and restore to make dramatic changes to the peace of the Spear-Danes. Beowulf also proves his heroic nature in terms of personality, such as his loyalty and love for fairness.
Furthermore, this battle is metaphorically significant, because it can be categorized as a battle between a rebel and a valiant protector. Beowulf emerges as the loyal stranger and the foreign protector of the land, who stops the rebellious destroyer; Grendel. The sudden appearances of Grendel and Beowulf, which accentuate disastrousness and heroism respectively, show the significance of this particular battle. Under the good, kind Hrothgar, the Spear-Danes enjoy peace for a long time, feasting and drinking in the magnificent Heorot, until a brutal monster emerges startlingly.
As the narrator observes, Grendel “… grabbed thirty men from their resting places and rushed to his lair, flushed up and inflamed from the raid, blundering back with the butchered corpses. ” (122-125). The monster arrives at Heorot in order to break the peace that he hates out of Jealousy. Hrothgar and his people are powerless against Grendel and lose hope until a warrior from Geatland comes to defeat the beast. This foreign warrior, who came to help unexpectedly, is Beowulf, the one who saves the Danes from Grendel. The purpose of his arrival is to help them out of such atrocity caused by Grendel.
Beowulf and his thanes “…vaulted over the side, out on to the sand, and moored their ship” (224-226). Grendel and Beowulf, both jump into the storyline unexpectedly. Grendel’s sudden appearance that breaks the long peace of the Danes emphasizes his wickedness, while Beowulf’s sudden rise and victory, that puts an end to the atrocity and the hopelessness the Danes had faced, accentuates the excitement of this battle. Moreover, the two show contrariness as well as in their purposes for the arrival at Heorot: Grendel comes to destroy, but Beowulf comes to help.
These emphases add to the significance of Beowulf’s fight against Grendel. The battle with Grendel is significant because it reveals Beowulf’s great personality: his loyalty and love for fairness. Grendel attacks the Spear-Danes, not Geatland, Beowulf’s homeland. Hrothgar greets Beowulf, mentioning the favor he had done for the Geats, when “A crew of seamen who sailed for me once with a gift-cargo across to Geatland…”(377-378). Beowulf crosses the sea to defeat Grendel, in order to repay the favor that had been provided to his father, Ecgtheow.
A warrior may be brave, but no warrior who is merely brave would do such an act. Beowulf’s loyalty shows is one the great traits in his personality. Grendel is a powerful monster, but does not use weapons. Acknowledging that Grendel fights with his bare hands, Beowulf refuses to use any weapons or armor, thinking that unfairness would occur if he uses his armaments. Beowulf boldly states, “No weapons, therefore, for either this night… ” (683-684). He shows his love for fairness, which is another one of his personality traits as a hero.
Such trait is underscored especially in the battle with Grendel, giving this battle even more significance. Beowulf fighting Grendel is metaphorically significant. Grendel had been expelled from the society to the swamp. Grendel dwelt in pain “…for a time in misery among the banished monsters, Cain’s clan, whom the Creator had outlawed and condemned as outcasts. ” (104-107). Due to the banishment and hatred he receives, Grendel feels defiance, which is the cause of his raid on Heorot: he could not stand the happiness going on in the mead hall.
Hereby, Grendel is an unstoppable rebel against a peaceful society, trying to overthrow the government and let anarchy take over. However, despite Grendel’s fierceness and power that the Spear Danes could not even dare to stop, Beowulf stops the rebellion, and protects the people and regains their peace. He is the heroic protector of the people who “was granted the glory of winning” (816-817) that overpowers Grendel who “was driven under the fen-banks, fatally hurt” (818-819). Such metaphors that can be symbolically used to describe the conflict between the two also increase the significance of this battle.
Beowulf gets involved in three intense battles, and all three battles hold specific significant factors of an epic poem. However the battle with Grendel has the most significance. The battle consists of the unexpected appearances that stress the disastrousness of the invasion and the heroism of Beowulf, the respectable personality traits shown through Beowulf’s actions, and the metaphoric significance of the two powers. Such traits indicate that the clash between Beowulf and Grendel is the paramount of the entire poem.