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Epic of Beowulf Essay – Symbols and Symbolism of Battle

Symbolism of Battle in Beowulf

Beowulf Authors often use events and things to symbolize stages in someone’s life. Symbolism is the practice of representing things by means of symbols or of attributing meaning of significance to objects, events, or relationships. In the anonymous epic, Beowulf, Beowulf fights Grendel, the monsters of the ocean and Grendel’s mother. Beowulf’s battles with theses three evils symbolize the youth and adulthood of Beowulf’s life.

The battle with Grendel represents the youth of Beowulf’s life. The typical youth is very brave and fights for fame. Beowulf shows how the battle with Grendel is a representation of the youth of Beowulf’s life by going to Hrothgar and asking him if he can fight Grendel for him and his people. Beowulf shows this trait when he says,

Grant me, then, lord and protector of this noble place, a single request! I have come so far, oh shelter of warriors and your people’s loved friend, that this one favor you should not refuse me. That I, alone and with the help of my men, may purge all evil from this Hell. (Beowulf page #).

Another trait that a typical youth has is that they don’t want to be outwitted. They also don’t want people to think poorly of them. Beowulf shows this when he hears that Grendel does not use any weapons to fight and so Beowulf says that he will not use any weapons because he wants Higlac to think worthy of him. Beowulf shows this trait when he says,

I have heard, too, that the monster’s scorn of men is so great that he needs no weapons and fears none. Now will I. My lord Higlac might think less of me if I let my sword go where my feet were afraid to, if I hid behind some broad linden shield: my hands alone shall fight for me, struggle for life against the monster (Beowulf page #).

The typical youth likes to brag about what they have done. Beowulf shows this third trait when he brags to Hrothgar about how he swam all the way over and killed all the monsters in the ocean. This is seen when Beowulf says, “I swam in the Blackness of night, hunting monsters out of the ocean, and killing them one by one; death was my errand and the fate they had earned” (Beowulf page #).

Epic of Beowulf Essay – Hero of Epic Proportions

Beowulf – Hero of Epic Proportions

Beowulf is “the strongest of the Geats — greater / and stronger than anyone anywhere in this world” (ll.110-111). Even though he is famous for his massive strength, Beowulf has other attributes that are noticeable other than his strength. These attributes, arrogance, bravery, and a strong love for his people are what make Beowulf become such a powerful, epic hero. Beowulf is arrogant. He constantly brags about his supreme strength. The “strongest man alive” lets people know that he is the most powerful person around by saying, “no strength is a match for mine” (l.267). Beowulf does not think that he could ever be destroyed by anything. He obviously never questiones how his fighting ability would be when he was around seventy. Since Beowulf is convinced that God is watching over him, his ego makes him act as if he is invincible, because of the idea that he has a guardian angel. But, as Beowulf gets older, wiser, and fights in more battles he should realize that there was a possibility that he can die. Beowulf also boasts about his many battles, and is proud of himself for winning all of them. One of these triumphs is the battle in the water when he meets up with nine sea monsters which he killeds, and fights with a monster that is digging its jaws into Beowulf’s flesh. Beowulf proclaims that “ I fought that beast’s last battle, / left it floating in the sea” (ll.290-291). This epic tale reads that while Beowulf is in battle with Grendel’s mother, all he cares was about the fame he would get for defeating her. Unferth thinks that Beowulf was arrogant, by saying, “ You’re Beowulf, are you the same / Boastful fool who fought a swimming / Match with Brecca” (ll.239-241). Yes, Beowulf is a boastful fool that loves the attention that his strength gives him. A strong man and an arrogant one, Beowulf is also brave. Even after all of the horror stories that he hears about Grendel, he still fights the cursed beast without any hesitation. When he battles with Grendel, he does it without the things that everyone else would use–weapons. This shows that Beowulf is not scared of anything in the world. He also must be brave to fight a sea monster after swimming in the ocean for days. He went straight into battle exhausted, from the strenuous journey across the ocean.

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