15 June 2014
Beowulf’s Death Explication
The epic poem “Beowulf” has an unexpected twist of plot when the main character – King Beowulf – dies with only one loyal man to defend him. This is unusual because Beowulf dedicated his life to guarding his kingdom and making sure his people were safe. He who was always responsible for the well being of others did not have the fortune of having a loyal army to support him. There are three possible reasons for this lonely death, this might have been a technique of glorifying Beowulf’s death and highlighting his courage, a tactic to bring Wiglaf to the attention of the readers, or an approach demonstrate that a life of good deeds does not guarantee ones future.
Beowulf’s solitary death could have been in order to make him look like a greater hero. Beowulf’s last battle showed his audacity by fighting the dragon when he knew his chances of winning were very narrow. The cowardice of the warriors served to display that although Beowulf was older he was stronger and braver than many of the young fighters. By doing this, the teller of the poem could be able to show that Beowulf was loyal to his people even on his last moments. Beowulf’s bravery is shown throughout the whole poem but before fighting the dragon he said “I risked my life/for the glory of winning” (ll. 2511-2213) which provides an insight to the character as well as room for the speculation that this battle was to bring him glory, even when it meant death.
Another one of the possibilities is that the death of this remarkable hero was that the tellers wanted to bring Wiglaf to the attention of the audience. Beowulf did not have any successor, which meant that his death was going to bring the task of finding a new leader. Wiglaf’s bravery enables the readers to see him as the adequate heir. The evidence of this possibility can be found on the way Wiglaf is described “but within one heart/ the claims of kinship cannot be denied” (ll. 2599-2601) He unlike the others wanted to keep his word and help his king at any price. With his characteristics Wiglaf would make a good king, which gave the readers closure on how the kingdom was going to be after Beowulf’s death.
Living a life full of noble deeds…