The Hidden Heart of Beowulf

The people of Herot, Denmark were terrorized every night, each one wondering if they would be the next to be eaten by the monster that lurks in the night. In the epic story “Beowulf,” translated by Burton Raffel, the people of Herot spend countless nights in fear of the monster called Grendel. The monster Grendel that picked up and ate men, women, and children like a person picking an Apple from the tree and taking a bite, as if it were no big deal. The epic hero Beowulf, prince of Geats, hears of the people of Herot’s troubles and sets out on a journey to Herot to slay the monster because he wants to help the people, he’s thirsty for a fight, and he seeks further fame and recognition as a warrior who cannot be defeated. In the beginning of the story, “Beowulf hears of Hrothgar’s troubles and decides to journey to Denmark with some of his strongest men to do battle with Grendel.” (p. 21) Beowulf is greeted with a great feast, and everyone is happy to finally have a warrior who has a chance against the Grendel in their presence. Beowulf and his men stayed in the gold-shining hall and awaited the arrival of the beast.

Even though all his men were present, when Grendel came Beowulf insisted they let him fight alone without a weapon. An arrogant, and quite frankly foolish move, I believe he got lucky. “The mighty protector of men meant to hold the monster till its life leaped out, knowing the fiend was no use to anyone in Denmark.”(p. 23) And he did, he held on until the monster’s arm detached from the rest of him.

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“Beowulf, a prince of Geats, had killed Grendel, ended the grief, the sorrow, the suffering forced on Hrothgar’s helpless people by a bloodthirsty fiend.” (p. 24) Beowulf’s victory against Grendel was undeniable, the proof of Grendel’s bloody disintegrating arm hung from the rafters as proof. People, great warriors from all over came and surrounded the hall praising Beowulf victory, but that wasn’t enough for him. He thanked the people for their thanks, he knew he had saved many lives, but he wanted more fame, more victory, and more safety for his people. So he set out to find the monsters lare.

Beowulf followed Grendel’s blood trail through a dark and creepy forest to the edge of a murky lake. “[Beowulf] leaped into the lake, would not wait for anyone’s answer; the heaving water covered him over. For hours he sank through the waves; at last he saw the mud of the bottom. [Instantly she noticed him,] a creature from above had come to explore the bottom of her [dark world.]” (p.26) Beowulf gets to Grendel’s mother’s muddy lare and begins battle with her in a fight to the death.

He tosses his useless man made weapon to the ground and tries to use his strength only to realize he isn’t strong enough. Soon after he notices a monster made sword that will surely pierce Grendel’s mother’s skin. Beowulf drove the sword through her neck, instantly ending her life. Beowulf, a noble warrior travels to Herot to help stop a monster that’s terrorizing innocent people for several reasons; he cares about people and doesn’t want to see them die pointlessly, he also seeks battle, and fame as an undefeated warrior. Beowulf successfully stops Grendel by literally tearing his arm off and sending him running home to die.

After saving the people from Grendel’s nightly wrath, he still isn’t satisfied, so he sets out to look for a fight. He follows Grendel’s trail of blood foolishly by himself and fights and kills Grendel’s mother. Beowulf is a brave warrior who fights for the safety of others, yet has little regard for his own life. The life of others should have equal value to yours, and that should be of the highest value.