Each reader will have their own opinion about what makes a scene impressive. There are three major battles in Beowulf, and any of them could be considered the most impressive. Beowulf’s first battle, with the fearsome monster, Grendel, shows his brute strength. The second battle, however, is a different sort of accomplishment: Beowulf thought he had saved the Danes but failed to reckon with a mother’s wrath. A very strong case can be made for this scene being even more impressive than the first because he accomplishes far more than he, or anyone else, expected. The third battle, the one with the dragon, is also impressive, because of the size and kind of creature he takes on. However, even the powerful Beowulf is not invincible, and this time, his courage costs him his life.
There are a number of factors that make his battle with Grendel’s mother impressive. Although King Hrothgar as well as Beowulf thought that defeating Grendel had ended their troubles, that was very far from the case. Grendel’s mother invades the castle and takes back her son’s severed arm, and she also kills Esher, the king’s adviser. Beowulf must face the daunting task of pursuing the mother in her underwater cave. Before he departs, he makes a heroic speech about vengeance and winning glory before one dies. Once he gets underway, another warrior, Unferth, gives him his own, renowned sword with which to take on this new foe.
The actual battle scene takes place underwater in the mere where Grendel’s mother lives. To reach her cave, Beowulf must dive deep into water which boils with blood. He not only carries the sword but is also wearing armor. She catches him as soon as he dives down and hauls him off to her lair. Other creatures join in the attack, and though his chainmail offers some protection, the sword is not effective against her. Casting it aside, he must take her on in unarmed combat. Her cave is filled with arms, however, and Beowulf seizes a sword that he knows was made by giants and has magical properties. With a mighty blow, he cuts through her neck. He next spots Grendel’s corpse, cuts of his head, and swims through the bloody water, taking the head with him to the surface. Later he will present it to Hrothgar.