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The Battle of Good and Evil

Essay by Melissa.amaria22  •  March 6, 2019  •  Essay  •  1,510 Words (7 Pages)  •  28 Views

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English 203: Classics of World Literature

The Battle of Good and Evil

The Battle of Good vs. Evil                                                                                                            Smith 1

        One thing is for certain, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In this Angelo-Saxon poem, the saying proves to be no different. In the beginning, we are introduced to the protagonist Beowulf that of whom the epic named after. “Beo” which means “bright” or “noble” and “wulf” interpreted as “wolf” gives preface to the character’s personality traits. There is no surprise that darkness will follow Beowulf who is deemed the source of light for the classic tale. As the brave warrior, Beowulf fights for human preservation he must battle the supernatural forces that come his way. The events in this poem have led me to explore the themes of good as it relates to Beowulf’s heroic deeds and evil as it pertains to Grendel’s monstrous demeanor.

        The themes of good and evil are seen first through Grendel, the gruesome beast that has been terrorizing the Danish people. The poem tells us that Grendel is an outcast of the societal boundaries that precedes him. “Cain’s clan, whom the Creator has outlawed and condemned as outcasts for killing Abel” (pg.1237, lines 106-107) Grendel begins to act out because of isolation and separation for he is cursed by linage. Although King Hrothgar was a successful ruler in terms of welfare and warfare the king failed in the prime endeavor of defeating the demon. Grendel successfully murdered warriors for over a decade. “So Grendel ruled in defiance of right…for twelve season of winters, twelve seasons of woe, the lord of the Shieldings suffered under his load of sorrow…before long the news was known over the whole world.” (pg.1238, lines 144-150) Now as the news of Grendel’s wrath has traveled through the grapevines the likes of Beowulf take matters into his own hands.

The Battle of Good vs. Evil                                                                                                          Smith 2

Beowulf is a typical epic hero in terms of the characteristics he exemplifies. Some of which are his bravery, strength, and generosity. Beowulf came to the town to help defeat the demon that has been exterminating the Danes. “Beowulf, my friend, you have traveled here to favor us with help and to fight for us.” (pg.1245, lines 456-457) Beowulf showed his bravery and super human qualities when he fought Grendel, his mother, and the dragon. What makes him noteworthy was his ability to battle the likes Grendel’s without the use of weaponry. This also shows that Beowulf is honest. In the poem, he only battles the likes of the supernatural and never a fellow man.

        Although Beowulf exhibits many great qualities his personality has stains of arrogance, vengeance, and egotistical desires written all over it. In the film of the same name of the poem Angelina Jolie who plays Grendel’s mother said, “Underneath the glamour, you are as much a monster as my song Grendel.” (Beowulf 2007) That line makes the audience question Beowulf’s intent.  He sees the murder of Grendel and his mother as a badge of honor; he celebrates in feast with his fellow warriors and the king. Lines 1577 to 1580 tells us “the warrior determined to take revenge for every gross act Grendel committed and not only for the one occasion when he’d come to slaughter the sleeping troops.” (pg. 1271) However, it is his personality that may be regarded as boastful that the Danes admire. He is looked upon as a hero because he has saved the town from terror, something that no one has been able to do. He also does the same deed with the dragon towards the end of poem. To protect innocent people, he dies in battle. This is especially important because in Beowulf’s older years he was no longer directly involved

The Battle of Good vs. Evil                                                                                                          Smith 3

in matters of warfare.  Even though he leaves the town vulnerable he dies for honor or perhaps just for the greater good. The protagonist displays his Achilles heel.

        Beowulf is regarded as not only one of the most important works of the English literature, but as a simple epic in terms of its underlying themes. The entire poem becomes a constant battle between the forces of good and evil. The poem makes several references to Grendel as a descendent of Cain. Who cannot say that in the epic’s battle of the powers that be that Grendel represents evil (Cain) and Beowulf represents good (god)? It can especially be true with Beowulf’s constant references to god and other Christianity figures. “My hands alone shall fight for me, struggle for life against the monster. “When it comes to fighting, I count myself as dangerous any day as Grendel.”(pg1250. Lines 677-678) God must decide who will be given to death’s cold grip” Beowulf constantly referencing God means that represents God and is religious. Grendel on the contrary represent evil because he has an envious character. Much like Cain, he cannot stand people being praised or rewarded. Grendel wanted nothing more than to participate in the festivities with the commoners but was damned to the cave he resided. He grew disgruntle at the noise from the town’s people and took his wrath out on them.

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