What is the moral of Beowulf?

The moral presented in the epic poem Beowulf is the recognition that human destiny is controlled by God. The protagonist’s actions highlight the human struggle between good and evil. Beowulf recognizes his fate as a heroic figure locked in constant battles with evil and concedes that he, like all human beings, can only triumph over evil if it is the will of God.

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The moral of Beowulf is that it is better to die young with heroism and virtue than to grow to a ripe old age being cowardly and avoiding your responsibilities. Beowulf shows great courage and fortitude as he protects the community by fighting Grendel, Grendel's mother, and the dragon Wiglaf. Honor is more important to him than preserving his life.

Beowulf dies doing the right thing, but what is more important is that his memory will live on because of the way he lived. He exemplified the ideals of honor, loyalty, great physical courage, and self sacrifice that were the highest virtues in his culture. His body may have died but he achieved a form of immortality through the poem written about him, which we are still reading more than a thousand years later.

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The moral of Beowulf is that good conquers evil. In the epic, bravery, honor, and loyalty concur evil. The story highlights the importance of the values in individuals.

Beowulf, the hero of the story, goes to the aid of King Hrothgar. King Hrothgar’s people are suffering at the hands of the monster, Grendel. By the time Beowulf gets to the Danes, Grendel has claimed the lives of warriors and ordinary citizens. Beowulf is brave enough to challenge the monster. He fights Grendel and wins. He also remains loyal to Hrothgar and helps fight Grendel’s mother.

Wiglaf is also loyal to Beowulf, and when the other warriors abandon him during the fight with the dragon, Wiglaf stands his ground and fights alongside Beowulf.

Beowulf, Hrothgar, and Wiglaf are honorable men as demonstrated by their motivation to keep their promises. They understand the value of friendship, and they stand with their friends in their time of need. By expressing their virtues, they are able to conquer their enemies.

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Beowulf is an epic poem written anonymously sometime around 1000 AD by an author commonly referred to as “the Beowulf Poet.” The work itself presents a moral struggle between good and evil and raises more than a singular moral. The poem infuses the significance of traits like courage and loyalty into the character of Beowulf. In literature, a moral is a message related directly from an author to readers or a lesson demonstrated by a story. The main message repeated in this heroic poem is found in the protagonist’s repeated references to God as the controller of human fate and destiny. The poem breaks down the action in the story into three major battles between good and evil: the battle with Grendel, the battle with Grendel’s mother, and the final battle with the dragon.

Each of the monsters confronting Grendel metaphorically represent evil. Grendel is a perversion of nature. He is an ugly beast; he's not quite animal but less than human. He possesses enormous strength and is hell-bent on destruction. In one of many biblical references, the reader learns that Grendel has descended from Cain. Beowulf has also been blessed with great strength and power. When Hrothgar, King of the Danes, summons Beowulf seeking his help, he is convinced Beowulf has been sent by God. During a feast as songs in praise of God are being sung, Grendel attacks:

Grendel stalking under
the weight of God's anger.
That wicked ravager
planned to ensnare
many of the race of men
in the high hall.

He is defeated by Beowulf and the protagonist credits God with his victory.

Again, when Grendel’s angry evil mother seeks revenge for the death of her son, Beowulf kills her in a vicious contest and praises God for his victory. The Beowulf Poet makes it clear that the protagonist envisions himself as being directly and personally subject to the will of God and whether he is successful in life’s struggles depends on that will.

Just as in the first two major battles with evil, Beowulf believes he must accept death, if it comes, in his battle with the dragon, but death is worth it if he courageously dies doing what he feels is necessary behavior for a worthy cause. He is aware that his fate is up to God and willingly accepts it.

The anonymous poet suggests that it is possible for good to triumph over evil because evil is not natural. He implies that evil is the result of human sin and can only be destroyed with God’s intervention. God controls human fate and destiny.

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If you remember that moral of the story is like the lesson or principle the author wishes to convey, think about what you learned from  the story.  With each new story about the antics of another boy in the class named  "Charles", the reader finds humor both in the parents' reaction to the naughty boy stories and in the stories themselves.  When at the end, the parents find out that there is no boy named "Charles" in their son's class, and that it is their own son creating the havoc described, they must face the truth that Laurie is the culprit.  Being a parent myself, I believe that Jackson is making us look at childhood as a learning time for parents and child, that mistakes made can be fixed or learned from, that nothing is so great that it cannot be dealt with even if the parents are unaware at first.  I also think that Jackson is making a gentle statement about the difficulty of parenting and raising the child you want him to be, especially if you remain unaware or unquestioning with your child.

Because you are younger than I am, you may find another moral in the story which fits as well as mine.  Look carefully at what principle you learned from this story.

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I think the first answer certainly is not wrong.  I'm merely going to suggest an alternative.

Because Beowulf is a classic epic - a tale of a hero, with specific super-human heroic qualities battling evil and winning - I'm not sure that there is a moral beyond the most obvious: good wins over evil through the virtues of courage, strength, loyalty, and integrity.

Consider that Beowulf possesses all of these qualities, in almost nauseating quantities.  Consider also that he battles and defeats two monsters ALONE (as if he is the only one who can do so, because he is the only one who possess his heroic qualities).

Finally, in the last battle (the one with the Dragon) although Beowulf is defeated, his most loyal apprentice, Wiglaf, summons up similar qualities found in Beowulf and wins on behalf of his mentor, leader, and friend.  It seems simplistic, but that is the nature of an epic.

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