Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 462
Hrethric: Hrothgar’s eldest son
Beowulf gives Hrothgar Grendel’s head and the hilt of the jeweled, magical sword made by the giants. As he does so, he recounts the battle with Grendel’s mother and promises that Herot will be safe henceforth. Examining the sword hilt, Hrothgar discovers the story of its giant-makers. It explains how they suffered a war between good and evil and were then swept away by floods. He finds the name of the owner in Runic letters on the hilt.
Hrothgar then advises Beowulf how to be a good prince, warning him not to be like Hermod, who allowed his poor character to make him an unjust and disliked ruler. Beowulf is cautioned to remember his mortality and shun pride as a ruling emotion. Yet another feast is held to celebrate the second monster’s demise and is enjoyed by Geats and Danes alike.
The following morning, before the Geats begin their sea voyage home, Unferth arrives to present Beowulf with Hrunting, not as a loan this time, but as a gift. In his farewell to Hrothgar, Beowulf thanks him for being a gracious host and offers his services (and those of his lord) at any time they may be needed; he also reassures Hrothgar that Hrethric is more than welcome to visit.
Hrothgar praises Beowulf, telling him what a good king he will be when he is eventually offered the throne of Geatland and showers him with more gifts. Knowing he is too old to have the opportunity to see Beowulf again, Hrothgar begins crying as he kisses him farewell and the Geats leave.
Discussion and Analysis
Hrothgar, while delighted with Beowulf both as a person and as the victor in the two battles with the monsters, seems to understand how pride can undermine a person’s character, as he demonstrates by telling the story of Hermod. He seems to care greatly for Beowulf and worry about him; he knows the young Geat will become a great king sometime in the future, and tries to advise him as to the best way to do it. He obviously regards Beowulf with great affection and is sad that they will never see each other again, since he is old and the distance between them will be vast now that the Geat is returning home.
The young Geat seems so satisfied at obtaining glory by killing Grendel and his mother that he does not hear this advice.
Perhaps it is his youth that prevents him from thinking about his mortality as Hrothgar urges. He makes no comment on the story of Hermod after it is told, instead declaring that he is certain his lord, Higlac, will support him in returning should Hrothgar have any more troubles.
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