What does Wiglaf do to the dragon? Then, what does Beowulf do? In the epic poem, Beowulf, how do Beowulf and Wiglac work together to slay the dragon?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

As an old man, Beowulf goes to battle the dragon. When faced with the terrible beast, all of Beowulf's companions flee in terror except for his most trusted companion, Wiglaf the Geat. It is here that Wiglaf proves his loyalty, bravery, and resourcefulness in battle.

First, Wiglaf shouts insults at his retreating companions. He tells them that they owe loyalty to Beowulf, their king. What better time to show their loyalty than now? With that, Wiglaf jumps into the fray, offering his king further words of encouragement. The dragon responds by breathing fire directly at Wiglaf, destroying his shield and burning him badly.

Beowulf is in a tough spot. His sword, Naegling, has broken against the dragon's impenetrable scaly armor. Without his weapon, Beowulf is defenseless and is badly bitten by the monster on his neck. Wiglaf then attacks and stabs the beast in its soft underbelly with his knife. This wound proves fatal to the dragon. However, the bite that Beowulf suffered was full of the dragon's poison and proves to be fatal to the old Dane.

Together, the two warriors kill the dragon. If Wiglaf had not come to his king's aid, then the dragon would surely have triumphed. This battle gives the old king the opportunity to have an honorable death and provides his most faithful servant a chance to do right by his sovereign.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Wiglaf was the one Geat to stay with Beowulf in the battle with the dragon. He was a hero in that his loyalty his king never swayed. He approached the dragon while shouting encouragement to Beowulf, which distracted the dragon briefly. The dragon burned Wiglaf by over heating his shield so that Wiglaf was forced to take cover behind Beowulf.

When the dragon strikes Beowulf (after Beowulf's sword broke), Wiglaf used the opportunity to stab the beast in the belly, the only soft part of his body. That injured the dragon enough that Beowulf was then able to finish the task of killing the dragon.

Beowulf's wound, however, was a fatal one. Wiglaf stayed by Beowulf's side, brought him water, and showed him some of the dragon's treasure, but to no avail. Beowulf gave Wiglaf his armor and his authority, making the loyal Wiglaf the next king of the Geats.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team