Why does Beowulf travel to the land of the Danes?

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luannw's profile pic

luannw | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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Beowulf travels to the land of the Danes, Hrothgar's land, because the stories of Grendel's attacks have spread.  Grendel has been attacking Heorot for 12 years and so the word has reached the land of the Geats - Beowulf's land.  Beowulf's father, Edgetho, had once fought alongside Hrothgar and Hrothgar had saved Edgetho.  Beowulf, therefore, feels somewhat in debt to Hrothgar.  This information comes to light when Beowulf arrives in the land of the Danes (approximately ll. 185-285). He also tells Unferth and some of the other Danes who are less thrilled to see Beowulf arrive that the Danes don't seem to be fighting back for themselves. Later, we find out that Beowulf wanted to make a name for himself so fighting and defeating a monster like Grendel would fulfill that.

iandavidclark3's profile pic

iandavidclark3 | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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Beowulf travels to the land of the Danes in order to fight the monster Grendel, who is in the process of terrorizing Hrothgar and his hall, Heorot. Essentially, Beowulf travels to the land of the Danes in search of glory on the battlefield and personal renown, and so it's tempting to assume Beowulf is acting entirely out of self-interest. However, though personal motivations drive Beowulf, he also possesses a keen sense of honor and a desire to serve others. For instance, Hrothgar actually protected Beowulf's father during a past conflict, and so we can see that Beowulf is coming to rescue the Danes in order to protect the man who helped his father. In that case Beowulf's actions are not wholly selfish; indeed, they're actually fairly selfless, as the warrior is striving to honor Hrothgar's past deeds by protecting him from Grendel. Therefore, if Beowulf is traveling to the land of the Danes to win personal glory, then he's also making the journey in order to pay back a debt from the past.  

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thetall's profile pic

thetall | (Level 3) Educator

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Beowulf goes to the land of the Danes to fight Grendel, the monster tormenting the warriors in that territory. Hrothgar the King of the Danes built the largest Mead hall Heorot to reward his warriors and his people. He organized feasts for them until one fateful night when Grendel attacked and killed many warriors and kept doing this every night until the warriors abandoned the hall. Poets spread the message about this horror until the news reached Beowulf and being a great warrior, he decided to challenge the monster. He sought counsel from his King and his people and it was agreed that he should pursue this creature. His past achievements in war with deadly creatures had brought praise to his kingdom and so this new challenge presented a similar opportunity. Beowulf also sought the glory that would come to him if he defeated Grendel. This is because it was in his nature to standout among his peers and fellow warriors.

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