Essay on Epic Poetry and Beowulf

Submitted By VentS175
Words: 810
Pages: 4

All pieces of literature include multiple themes. Beowulf contains four themes. “A theme in a literary work is a recurring, unifying subject or idea, a motif that allows us to understand more deeply the character and their world. In Beowulf, the major themes reflect the values and the motivations of the characters” (Baldwin). In Beowulf, good v. evil emerges in the fight between Beowulf and Grendel, fate arises in Beowulf’s final battle, and desire for fame appears in the battle with Grendel’s mother. In the fight between Beowulf and Grendel, evil shows in Grendel and Beowulf represents goodness. Darkness shows as a symbol of evil. “A powerful monster, living down in darkness, growled in pain” (1-2). Beowulf sets out to defend the Danish and emerge as the epic hero. “Beowulf, Higlac’s follower, and the strongest of the Geats—greater and stronger than anyone anywhere in this world—heard how Grendel filled nights with horror and quickly commanded a boat fitted out, proclaiming that he’d go to that famous king, would sail across the sea to Hrothgar, now when help was needed” (109-116). When Beowulf sets out to defeat Grendel, he returns with a trophy “ and receives much respect and honor. “Beowulf confronts her in her underwater lair where he is nearly slain himself, but—with the help of a giant’s sword he finds hanging on the wall—manages in the end to kill the she-monster. Finding Grendel’s body there, he cuts off the head for proof of his victory and returns to Hrothgar, who plies him with treasure and advice in another, grander feast” (Beowulf). “Even though Beowulf is the epitome of a good hero and Grendel is a monstrous demon, they're actually a well-matched pair – both are excellent wrestlers and unforgiving warriors. Maybe good and evil don't always look that different in this particular epic” (Shmoop). “There is no such thing as accident; it is fate misnamed” (Bonaparte).During this time, people believe that fate determines everything. The idea that fate is everything is identified in Beowulf’s final battle. More often than not, Beowulf fought with fate on his side. In this battle, fate happens to be against him. “Flames beat at the iron shield, and for a time it held, protected Beowulf as he’d planned; then it began to melt, and for the first time in his life that famous prince fought with fate against him, with glory denied him” (720-725). Signs of fate could vary from the expected to the unexpected. “The monster came quickly toward him, pouring out fire and smoke, hurrying to its fate” (718-720). “In the epic Beowulf, the great hero, states that “Fate always goes as it must” (Yewdaev). Fate arose throughout the epic poem, but varied from working for and against. Everyone wanted fame during this time and many fought for fame. Beowulf strived for fame not only in his people but in everyone. In the battle between Beowulf and Grendel’s mother, a great deal of desire for fame arises. “But Beowulf longed only for fame, leaped back into battle” (605-607). Beowulf’s only worry was fame. “So fame comes to the men who mean to win it and care about nothing else” (610-612). His desire for glory gave Beowulf motivation for his every