December 9, 2014
Comparisons of Good versus Evil in Beowulf
Beowulf the great Anglo-Saxon epic presents readers with a glimpse into the time period of Anglo-Saxons. Beowulf, written in a somber tone and reflects the achievements of the hero Beowulf. This epic poem displays many contrasts between good and evil. Although this is a fictional piece of literature, the struggle between good versus evil is an unchanging problem in society. This can correlate to terrorism and horrible terrorists trying to destroy our country and pacifism or pacifists trying to prevent war and violence from occurring. This conflict mirrors that of Beowulf and Grendel.
Specifically, in Beowulf goodness is represented throughout the poem by the characters of Beowulf, Kind Hrothgar, Wiglaf, and their actions. Beowulf, portraying many good qualities, is the ultimate example of a good hero. His acts of goodness are shown through his efforts to free King Hrothgar’s hall from the wrath of Grendel, then of Grendel’s mother and finally in his old age, an evil dragon. King Hrothgar’s love for his people and overall goodness is shown at the welcoming of Beowulf into his kingdom. Wiglaf was a Geat warrior and one of Beowulf’s chosen band. Wiglaf is portrayed as good because of his decision to risk his life for Beowulf. When all of Beowulf’s chosen band of Geats left him in his final battle with the dragon, Wiglaf was the only one that chose to stay and help his great Geat king (Gardner.)
Comparatively to this good in Beowulf, is pacifism. Generally pacifism is thought to be an objection to violence, war, or killing. Pacifism, as it is understood today, includes a diversity of commitments on a variety, from an absolute devotion to nonviolence in all actions to a more minimal type of anti-warism (Fiala.) In difference to the just war tradition, pacifism rejects war as an adequate mean for obtaining peace. Pacifists believe that violence without an extraordinary reason is intolerable and unnecessary (Thomas.)
In contrast to the good in Beowulf, the character of Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the dragon, represent evil throughout the epic poem. Grendel is the main representation of evil in this poem. He is a man-eating monster who haunted the halls of Herot for twelve years. Grendel’s mother attacks Herot out of grief for her son. Beowulf was called upon again to free Herot from the evilness of Grendel’s mother. The dragon was up roared by a common thief who stole a cup from his fortune. He in return, haunted Beowulf’s people. Beowulf fought his last battle with the dragon. The epic poem, Beowulf encompasses all aspects of a great tale. Beowulf, King Hrothgar, and Wiglaf represent good in the poem, whereas Grendel, his mother, and the dragon represent the contrasting side of evil (Gardner.) Throughout the epic poem, Beowulf one encounters many instances of good versus evil. Similarly to the bad in Beowulf, is terrorism. Terrorism is politically motivated violence aimed at non-combatants. “The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines terrorism as ‘the unlawful use of force against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a