The basis of the “Beowulf” storyline finds its basis in a similar named warrior who lives to be the greatest combatant that ever lived. As the plot begins, Hrothgar, king of Denmark holds a celebration to his powerful and successful reign. However, terror marks the nights as Grendel a demon residing in the kingdom cannot tolerate noise and as a result, attacks the village whenever there is a celebration (Heaney 3). The wealthy mead-hall, christened Heorot, in which the celebrations are held, becomes a slaughterhouse as Grendel attacks and kills the Danish warriors. This rapidly decreases the numbers of Hrothgar and in turn, leads to the spread of fear towards the demon. Because of his old age, the king cannot fight Grendel and instead the country awaits a hero who will liberate them from the devil. It is at this point that the hero of the tale appears; Beowulf travels to Denmark with his warriors to aid Hrothgar and his people (Heaney 5).
Upon his arrival in the Danes’ homeland, the desperation among the natives allows Beowulf to face Grendel. According to Gardner, the narration gives “helpful descriptions of Unferth Beowulf, Hrothgar, the Danes, and the Geats in a way that reconciled the themes of power, restraint, heroism, and community” (184).This attests to the need of a hero among the terrified nation and consequently, the faith the people have toward Beowulf. It is safe to argue that, with a strange army crossing the seas to Hrothgar’s lands, gaining access to Grendel was an impossible feat. In addition, this part of Beowulf’s journey needed more cooperation from the inhabitants starting from the king. In “Beowulf as Epic” Harris conducts a research on the retold events of the hero’s actions, attests to the ideas of Gardener, and goes further to state Hrothgar plays an important role in Beowulf’s defeat of Grendel.
The next part in Beowulf’s journey is dubbed the most interesting fight in the text and the determinant of what takes place in the storyline (Loughman and Finley 160). Beowulf and his men make merry in the mead-hall and bring the demon out of his hiding. To prove his strength, the tale’s hero strips naked and fights Grendel without any weapons. It is safe to conclude that this action played an important role in Beowulf’s victory as Grendel appears terrified and in turn, confused by the fighter. In the end, Beowulf manages to tear the creature’s arm off mortally wounding him and emerging the victor of the fight (Heaney 150). The trick Beowulf uses to win the fight is somewhat cowardice in the eyes of the Geatish warriors, as wars are honorable ways of settling disputes among the men. Harris attests to this as the narrations of done on this part seem to be distorted at this part (167). While he did win the fight, he tricked the monster by fighting naked and approaching him without any arms. On the other hand, Grendel was a demon and so any means are considerable to win. At the same time, there are records that show he is strong enough to split a man’s limbs from his torso (Heaney 88). The rules of war are applicable when it is a human-to-human combat; therefore, the tricks Beowulf employs are acceptable and even advisable.
With Grendel’s death, a new terror arises in the form of his mother who comes to the mead-hall for vengeance. After killing Aeschere, an advisor of Hrothgar’s, as part of her revenge she stirs the men’s anger. Beowulf and his warriors travel to her lair and the hero once again manages to rid the land of another demon. He does this using a sword forged for a giant and afterwards beheads Grendel’s corpse before returning to Hrothgar (Heaney 180). Gardner argues that this action is not surprising because mothers, whether human or monsters, are bound to love their children and protect them at all costs (100). The inability of Beowulf to be aware of Grendel’s mother led to the death of a man. This is usable in the questioning of his heroic act and in turn, his ability as a capable warrior. At the same time, while it requires a sword to kill Grendel’s mother, Beowulf manages to kill the first demon with his bare hands. Loughman and Finley suggest that this is a clear indication of the capabilities of Beowulf as a warrior and end the aforementioned doubts to his strength. In addition, as it requires a special sword to kill Grendel’s mother, she is no ordinary monster, showing that Beowulf is no ordinary warrior either.
Finally, Beowulf’s journey ends with his journey back to his homeland and his ascension to King of his people. After ruling for fifty year, Geatland faces a demon of its own in the form of a dragon. Knowing his death is imminent, Beowulf fights the dragon with the help of Wiglaf, one of his best warriors and a friend (Heaney 257). As predicted, Beowulf dies after killing the dragon that, before dying, bites the warrior in the neck. Beowulf’s journey begins and ends as a warrior, saving the Danes and later, his own people. Readers are aware of the fact that the hero dies after all the monsters are dead. However, the people have different ideas as they have a sense of foreboding for their futures with the death of their king and warrior.
Scholars and researchers all of whom have different ideas behind the actions and decisions made by the Gratian warrior have questioned the morals in Beowulf’s journey. Although viewed foolish at some point, said actions and decisions helped the tale’s hero save his people and those in Dane. In addition, throughout the text, the narrator ensures to include a supernatural power to the accomplishments and outcomes that are evident in the same. While, Beowulf carries out the heroic acts, praise is directed to the Saxon gods rather than the hero himself. This is so except in the case of the Danes and their king who shower the hero with treasures and praises. The demonic natures of Grendel and his mother are also important to the narration. This is so because the former’s attacks seem connected to the ballads sang in the mead-hall. For instance, the recitations are of a religious nature as the warriors praise their gods for victory and the feasts. This in turn angers the demon and leads to his attacks. This is so despite possible causes lying in the loud music and noises made by the men (Heaney 20). It is possible that Beowulf was an answer of the gods to the people.
Loughman, Tom & Finley, John. "Beowulf and the Teaching of Leadership." Journal of Leadership Education Volume 9, Issue 1 (2010): 155-164. Print.
Gardner, Jennifer. The Peace Weaver: Wealhtheow In Beowulf. PhD Thesis. Carolina: Western Carolina University, 2006. Print.
Harris, Joseph. "Beowulf as Epic." Oral Tradition Vol. 15, Issue 1 (2000): 159-169. Print.
Heaney, Seamus. Beowulf: A New Verse Translation (Bilingual Edition). New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2001. Print.