What are the major five battles of "Beowulf?"  

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ladyvols1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I am not really certain as to what you are referring.  Beowulf only had three major battles; not five. There are discussions throughout the story about older victories, and other wars, but in the tale of Beowulf there were three battles.  He fought Grendel, he fought Grendel’s mother, and he fought the great dragon. 

In the battle with Grendel Beowulf proves his great power and courage.  He is does not defeat Grendel the first time they meet, but when he does defeat Grendel it is without armor or weapons.  Grendel is indeed amazed at the power of Beowulf. 

“He was overwhelmed, manacled tight by the man who of all men was foremost and strongest in the days of his life.” (787-789)

The battle with Grendel’s mother seems to symbolizes the human weakness that lies within all human beings. Not only does Beowulf have to fight much harder to defeat Grendel’s mom, but he also struggles to win the battle.  He attempts to kill her with a weapon.  He finally succeeds in killing her with the use of a long sword.

Finally, Beowulf fights with the dragon.   This fight is much different that those battles in Beowulf’s youth.   He is older now, but he is still courageous.  He struggles to fight the dragon and win, but the fates do not shine on Beowulf this day. 

“That final day was the first time when Beowulf fought and fate denied him of glory in battle” (2571-2573)

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