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Why does Beowulf hang Grendel's arm from the rafters of Herot?

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sarahtang1990 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 20, 2007 at 6:08 AM via web

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Why does Beowulf hang Grendel's arm from the rafters of Herot?

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renelane | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted October 20, 2007 at 6:37 AM (Answer #1)

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Grendel's severed claw, arm, and shoulder are symbols and proof of Beowulf's successful battle. He apologizes for not bringing the full corpse. It is, in part,to offer proof of success that it hangs from the rafters, but it is also a trophy of battle for Beowulf.

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jamie-wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted October 20, 2007 at 7:14 AM (Answer #2)

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In addition to Rene's answer, I would also argue that the showing off the Grendel's arm is a way for Beowulf to symbolically "shout from the rafters" his success where other warriors have failed.  He quite literally lords his success over them.  Remember, Grendel has been snacking on Danish knights for a dozen years and none of the men could stop him. 

Beowulf could just have easily left the arm where it was, or chucked it into the sea after its dying owner.  Instead, he uses the arm to cement his own reputation. 

Sources:

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mvmaurno | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted October 20, 2007 at 11:27 PM (Answer #3)

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Hanging the arm by the rafters also doubles as a trophy, a concrete symbol of Beowulf's bravery and success in destroying Grendel.  The gory nature of the trophy serves to further exemplify the complex, dangerous nature of this task. By hanging Grendel's arm in the hall, Grendel is still present in the kingdom, but now, it is now longer a threat, and its presence is a cause for celebration yet also a reminder of how heroes such as Beowulf are needed to restore order and peace.

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