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Beowulf Character Analysis

In analyzing the old English poem “Beowulf” we come to see that there is honestly more than meets the eye. We come to discover Beowulf (the protagonist) is in fact not all good. The character Grendel (the antagonist) is in fact not all bad. Thru out theses next few pages we will analyze these two characters and really open up your eyes, and discover that looks can really be deceiving.

There are so many qualities that can be used to describe the character Beowulf. He was brave, strong even, but yet still a liar. Throughout the poem and movie we view Beowulf as a hero, but we soon discover otherwise. Beowulf in the end of the poem finally reveals his true nature and we come to discover he is just as much of a monster as Grendel.

Beowulf is originally introduced to us as a Gute from across the sea. The people of Hrothgar’s kingdom (the Danes) are thrilled by his arrival. He claims to have slew not one but 7 sea monsters. The Danes recognize him as a great hero. He is brave in the fact that he went into the marshes looking for the Sea-Witch (Grendel’s Mother). Towards the end of the movie we finally see Beowulf take up for his actions and face the dragon alone, knowing he was bound to lose his life. These and many other reasons make him brave in my book. Thou all of these actions make him brave he is a coward in many ways as well.

He is a coward due to the fact that he had sex with the Sea-Witch and then leaving her with child left. His actions put his people in danger. If Beowulf didn’t run from his actions in the first place his people wouldn’t have been put into danger.

Beowulf shows unbelievable strength thru out the story as well. We see this exhibited during the fight between Beowulf and Grendel at the beginning of the story. We view Beowulf rip Grendel’s arm off with just his strength and the help of a door. Thou strong Beowulf is no match for the Sea-Witch and lays with her.

Thou Beowulf is viewed as a mighty hero one of his downfalls is his lying. Beowulf claimed to have killed 7 sea monsters but we hear Wiglaf in the back ground saying unclearly “Last time it was 3,” This statement alone shows us that Beowulf has issues with lying. He also comes back claiming to have killed the Sea-Witch (Grendel’s mother). Unbeknown to the Danes and Hrothgar he merely slept with the witch: This we can view as “Making a pact with the devil”. He lied about a lot of things.

All of this and many other things show us that Beowulf thou portrayed as the “Hero” is nowhere perfect. He is actually anything else.

Grendel on the other hand is just sadly misunderstood. We all discover he is the “Basterd” child of King Hrothgar. He is a monster who is completely misunderstood and in the end is just a child.

Grendel is set off by hearing people having fun and singing and having fun in the mead hall. I believe that this occurs because he feels abandoned and neglected. I mean how would you feel if your father was having fun and living “High on the horse” while you were living down in the dumps. Every time Grendel went into the mead hall he was greeted by spears and screams of terror. He attacked due to him being terrified.

Grendel didn’t ask to be born. Grendel was made when King Hrothgar again “Made a pact with the devil” and Laid with the Sea-Witch. Grendel was a mistake that Hrothgar forgot about and threw away. We can see how this would upset anyone. I mean come on, how would you feel? I mean in the end it’s just cruel and unusual. NO ONE has the right to create a life and then leave them to fend for themselves.

Grendel thou born a monster has some humanity and feelings. We see this in Grendel’s character at the very beginning of the story when he attacks the mead hall and Hrothgar is yelling “Fight Me,” and he just turns around. Upon returning to the marsh he is chastised by his mother, He curls into a ball because he feels terrible. While Beowulf is fighting him he is running out of fear. After Beowulf rips his arm off, Grendel returns to the cave and is actually crying in pain. This shows that not all monsters are as scary as they seem.

We can tell that Grendel is definitely a “Mama’s Boy”. We can see this in the scene where Grendel’s character is actually dying. While lying in the water he is actually crying out “modor”. This shows that he is close to his mother and is her little boy no matter how ugly his character is.

To conclude this character analysis I’m going to say this. We can see that by analzing these characters we come to discover that not everything is at it seems. Thou Beowulf is viewed as a hero He is anything but perfect. And Grendel thou a monster isn’t as bad as he appears.



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