What are the 3 major battles fought in Beowulf?  

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thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Beowulf’s fight against Grendel: Beowulf heard of the marauding monster Grendel, who was terrorizing the Danes. He decided to visit the region to fight Grendel and save the Danes. King Hrothgar of the Danes welcomed Beowulf and offered him information about Grendel. Finally, Beowulf faced off against Grendel and emerged victorious by mortally wounding the monster.

Beowulf had to face Grendel’s mother who sought to avenge the son’s death. Grendel’s mother went to Herot and made away with one of King Hrothgar’s most trusted warrior. The King sought Beowulf’s help to destroy Grendel’s mother. The warrior pursued Grendel’s mother to her abode and battled the monster.

Then the lord of the war-like Geats who did not shrink from combat seized Grendel's mother by the shoulder; that fierce one filled with rage then flung his deadly foe, and she fell to the ground.

In the battle against Grendel’s mother, Beowulf emerged victorious by killing the monster.

Beowulf ascended the throne after the demise of Hygelac, former king of the Geats. He ruled for fifty years until he was forced to face a dragon. The dragon was agitated and wrecked havoc on everyone because a golden goblet was stolen from its den.

I would carry neither weapon, nor sword against the serpent, if I knew how I could make good my boast with such an enemy, as I did in the day of Grendel.

Beowulf killed the dragon, however, he also succumbed to wounds caused by the battle.

He struck the loathsome monster a little lower; his bright and burnished sword penetrated; the beast's blaze began to dwindle.

Beowulf spoke; he knew full well that his portion of earthly bliss was done and gone, that the tale of his days had fled, and that death was near.

mlsldy3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are three major battles fought in Beowulf. The first one is against Grendel, the monster that is stalking Hrothgar and his people. Beowulf has come to help the Danes defeat the monster.

"Till the monster stirred, that demon, that fiend/Grendel who haunted the moors, the wild marshes, and made his home in a hell. Not hell but hell on earth. He was spawned in that slime of Cain, murderous creatures banished by God, punished forever for the crime of Abel's death"

This quote is a great description of what the men were up against. Beowulf defeats Grendel by cutting his claw off. The hatred and anger that Grendel felt for the Danes is so consuming. The following quote describes how Grendel is truly a monster.

"Grendel's hatred began, the monster relished his savage war on the Danes, keeping the bloody feud alive, seeking no peace, offering no truce, accepting no settlement, no price in gold or land, and paying the living for the crime only with another. No one waited for reparation from his plundering claws: That shadow of death hunted in the darkness staked Hrothgar's warriors."

The next battle is with Grendel's mother, which Beowulf defeats with the help of a magical sword. The sword is the only way to kill the beast. He comes out with the head of the monster. Beowulf is hailed a hero and eventually becomes king.

The last battle takes place with a dragon. Beowulf was now an older man, but still the warrior. He fought and killed the dragon, but was mortally wounded in the process.

This is one of the most beloved pieces of literature of all times. The story is a fascinating look into the life of a true warrior.

mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Beowulf, the three major battles are:

  1. Hand-to-hand combat with Grendel in which Beowulf rips off Grendel's arm.  This battle is mythological in nature: it shows Beowulf's superhuman strength.  Beowulf's motive is revenge against the monster for his heinous crimes against Beowulf's kinsmen.
  2. Sword-fight combat against Grendel's mother in which Beowulf swims to her underwater lair.  This battle too is mythological, as Beowulf's dive is the stuff of legend.  However, in this battle Beowulf must use a weapon (sword) to defeat her.  This shows Beowulf's mortality and gradual deterioration of strength.  Beowulf's motive is spiritual, as he is destroying evil at its root source (in hell).
  3. Full-armored combat against the dragon.  Beowulf must use armor and weapons to kill the dragon, which shows Beowulf's age and impending death.  This battle is realistic in nature (at least for Beowulf), as he uses no mythological (unrealistic) feats of strength.  Beowulf dies in the battle because his motives are greedy: he's after the Dragon's treasure.
defectedhiggins | Student

The three battles are with Grendel, Grendel's mother, and the Dragon.