Beowulf Questions and Answers

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What do the characters Grendel, Grendel's mother and the dragon symbolize in the story?

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In the version of Beowulf recorded by Christian monks, the hero is depicted as a Christ figure who must fight and defeat the forces of evil. The forces of evil are symbolically represented by Grendel, Grendel's mother, and the dragon. Both Grendel and his mother are described as being descendants of Cain and depicted as society's outcasts. These monsters do the devil's bidding as they terrorize the Danes by ruthlessly killing warriors and holding the great mead hall hostage.

The personalities and actions of each monster can represent various evil behaviors that humans engage in, which are discouraged against in the Bible. Beowulf is affiliated with the forces of good and is an agent of God who courageously defeats the evil monsters in the name of the Lord. The Christian monks hoped to inspire positive, righteous behavior and used Beowulf as a motivating figure to follow the Lord.

From the more traditional Anglo-Saxon perspective, the monsters symbolically represent...

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