Beowulf Questions and Answers

Beowulf book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Irony In Beowulf

Irony is discrepancy between expectation and reality. In Beowulf, what is ironic about the way Beowulf kills Grendel's mother?

Expert Answers info

Ester Baumgartner, Ph.D. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)

bookPh.D. from University of Miami (Fla.)

calendarEducator since 2016

write785 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Arts, and Law and Politics

Beowulf is an epic hero known for his superhuman strength and courage. In the first major battle of the epic poem named for him, Beowulf defeats Grendel, who has been terrorizing Hrothgar's kingdom for decades. In that fight, Beowulf declares that he will fight the beast unarmed, since Grendel will not be using weapons but will fight with his bare hands. Beowulf does, indeed, win the fight, even tearing one of Grendel's arms from his body and hanging it in the mead hall as a trophy.

When Grendel's mother returns to the hall to avenge him, Beowulf demonstrates his epic courage by volunteering to go to the monster's lair alone to take on this second beast. He must swim a long distance and fight the monster on her own terms. This is certainly fitting for an epic hero. However, once he is in the battle, Beowulf is...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 428 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Lorna Stowers eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2011

write4,625 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Moses144 | Student

Beowulf is a noble warrior he wouldn't kill a women just the enemy also he saw that that Grendel's mother was tryimg to avenge his death so he killed her.

broscover | Student

What is ironic about the way Grendel's mother is killed in the story Beowulf, is that she was killed with her own sword. Grendel's mother was  trying to avenge Grendel's death who was maimed by Beowolf in a struggle between the two. So although she was trying to avenge Grendel's death, she is killed by Beowolf as well.