What monsters does Beowulf encounter and defeat in the epic Beowulf?

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literaturenerd's profile pic

literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The epic of Beowulf tells about the life of the epic hero Beowulf. Over the course of his life, Beowulf battles many different beasts and monsters. Beowulf speaks of five different monsters or beasts which Beowulf must fight.

Grendel--This is the monster attacking Hrothgar's mead hall (Heorot). Beowulf hears of Hrothgar's problem and travels to the Danelands to defeat the monster.

Grendel's mother--Grendel's mother, after attacking Heorot and killing Aeschere (Hrothgar's right hand man) in revenge for her son's death, fights Beowulf. Beowulf, after Hrunting fails, uses the sword of a giant to kill Grendel's mother.

Water Monsters/ Sea Beasts--Readers see these creatures twice, once in Beowulf's swimming challenge with Brecca and once in the den of Grendel's mother. Therefore, these creatures are counted twice. In his swimming challenge, Beowulf killed nine water monsters. In his battle with the sea beasts in Grendel's mother's den, Beowulf came across "many" of the beasts. An exact number is not given.

Dragon--The dragon was Beowulf's last foe. Although he is able to defeat the dragon, with the help of Wiglaf, Beowulf's injuries are fatal. This is the last time Beowulf will fight.

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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The first encounter Beowulf has with monsters is presented in retrospect, taking place before the main action of the epic. This involves a swimming contest during which Beowulf encounters and defeats sea monsters.

The next monster Beowulf fights in the epic is Grendel, the fierce monster that had been attacking Heorot, Hrothgar's mead hall, over a period of twelve years. Beowulf travels to Denmark to help Hrothgar and repay a family obligation to him. Beowulf manages to fatally wound Grendel.

The next monster, Grendel's mother, in naturally upset at the death of her son and attacks Heorot in revenge. Beowulf kills her in her underwater lair.

Many years later, Beowulf has become King of the Geats. A dragon attacks the Geats and Beowulf defeats the dragon but is fatally wounded in the battle and receives a grand burial at the end of the epic.

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nflocke | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

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Beowulf encounter 3 monsters: Grendel, Grendel's Mother, and a dragon. All are defeatd by Beowulf, although the dragon managed to bite Beowulf's neck before dying. The venom from the bite eventually killed Beowulf after thier encounter.