The story of Beowulf is the eternal story of good versus evil, a theme that is still relevant to modern life. Grendel is the descendant of Cain, the evil son of Adam and Eve who slew his brother, Abel. Grendel detests hearing the merrymaking in the mead hall, Heorot, that Hrothgar, the Danish king, has built, and he vows vengeance upon Hrothgar's men. As the king of darkness, Grendel rules the nighttime and slaughters his victims in darkness. On the other hand, Beowulf is the quintessence of good. He comes across the sea to help the Danes because Hrothgar helped his father, and he valiantly attacks Grendel. Beowulf is brave and willing to risk his life to pay a debt that his family owes Hrothgar. He eventually rids the Danes of Grendel and his equally awful mother.
The theme of the great hero continues to be relevant today, though we might think of heroes in different terms. The Danes despair after Grendel kills their people night after night, and they live in utter terror. After Beowulf shows up and speaks of his prowess in battle, Hrothgar sees the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. He knows that help has finally arrived, and laughter rings out in the mead hall as Hrothgar and his wife, Wealhtheow, know that the torture that Grendel has inflicted on their people is almost over. Today, we also look for the help of heroes to steer us through dark times, though what torments us is different from monsters. Therefore, the theme of the great hero defeating evil is still relevant today.