What do Beowulf's battles with Grendel, Grendel's mother, and the dragon have in common?

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amy-lepore's profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Beowulf also conducts himself with the utmost honor in each battle, as do his opponents.  Beowulf chooses not to use weapons other than his own hands with Grendel, since this is all Grendel uses.  In the battle with Grendel's mother, she brings him to her lair where he is on an equal footing with her--a cave full of air that he can breathe while fighting.  He does resort to using the sword forged by giants that he finds in her cave to kill her and to chop off Grendel's head.  Both of these battles he fights alone.  With the dragon, Beowulf is deserted by all his warriors except for his kinsman, Wiglaf.  Again, the honor of a man comes into play.  Wiglaf does not forsake Beowulf because he has pledged his life to his King, and also because they are related by blood. 

sullymonster's profile pic

sullymonster | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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In all of these battles, Beowulf is the stereotypical warrior.  He sets out alone, and he relies mostly on his brute strength, as opposed to his wisdom, in order to accomplish his tasks.  Consider his battle with Grendel - he holds onto Grendel with a vise-like grip until the monster's arm is ripped from his body.  However, Beowulf is compassionate and he is intelligent.  He sets out on all of these battles not for glory but to help others, to serve his people.  The biggest difference between the battles is in the last one, with the dragon.  Here he allows another, Wiglaf, to come to his aid, recognizing that he is too old to take care of the situation himself.


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