Nov 10, 2017 in Literature

How is Conflict between the Good and Evil Portrayed in Beowulf

Beowulf is an epic and mythic. Beside a lot of other aspects it implies a religious aspect of life, which is the most important part of any culture. Conflict between the good and the evil exist over the dominance in the society. The poem Beowulf is the best example to illustrate the constant competition or even fight. The main characters Beowulf and Grendel are the embodiment of Good and Evil. The poem has a similar conception of good and evil as in the Bible, it shows the values of Germanic tribes and it interact with Christian and pagan allusions.

Beowulf, the epic hero, is a symbol of the righteous within the community. He is a selfless being who is ready to help the other society members overcome the forces of darkness. This is seen where he travels for miles to help the king Hroogar of Danes whom his subjects are being mauled by Grendel. Beowulf died as he fought with the dragon and saved the people from its vengeance. He therefore symbolizes the Biblical Jesus who came to solve the plight of the oppressed (Barrela 894). Grendel and the mother represent the evil in the society. The poem describes them as descendants of Cain. The Biblical Cain killed his brother Abel and God cursed him in return “God-cursed brute” (line 121). He was cursed into a monster to roam around the earth. The place where Grendel lived was a prototype of hell - dark place filled with monsters and fire around. While Heorot lived in a place that creates the image of heaven - merry and feasting area.

The poem unravels some of the early Germanic cultural notions such as loyalty, courage and revenge. Loyalty in the poem is best portrayed by Wiglaf, who helped Beowulf during the battle with the dragon. The rest of the men crept back to the woods when the battle with the dragon raged but Wiglaf plucked up the courage and loyalty to fight the dragon (Dorothy 17). The best illustrated example of courage was Beowulf himself he sacrificed his life to fight the dragon though it almost outmatched him. Moreover, the fact that Grendel was killing innocent people stimulated Beowulf to ask for help king Hoogar.  Revenge is also prevalent in the poem when mother of Grendel sought for revenge of the death of her son.. It is also evident as the dragon wanted revenge after realizing that the golden cup had been stolen. It is furious and burns everything in sight. All these values are found in the early Germanic cultural notions and virtues.

Both Christian and pagan allusions are evident within the poem setting. The poet has given Beowulf Christ-like characteristics. Just like Jesus, Beowulf helps to liberate the oppressed natives from the evil. He fights Grendel when he attacks and kills the innocent Danes “in good faith” (line 267).  The role of the messiah is to surmount the power of darkness, was successfully portrayed. He spends his life fighting the evil and finally dies after liberating his people (Fredrich189). In the poem, Grendel is the symbol of satan. All the actions were performed in order to frustrate the peace and freedom of the natives. Satan rejoices in killing innocent souls and unleashing suffering to the people the same felt Grendel The pagan illusion has also been clearly brought out. Pagans believed in existence of supernatural creatures such as monsters and dragons. In comparison with the poem some characters such as Grendel, his mother and Beowulf also were endowed with extraordinary abilities. For example, Grendel mauled people without any weapon; Beowulf had the strengths of thirty men Grendel and his mother were fought single-handedly. One more characteristic of pagan society which was in the poem was a lot drinking and shedding of blood.

The Beowulf poem brings out a setting of both Christian and pagan life. The use of Biblical allusions and imagery brings in the Christianity life while the characterization of monsters and dragons reveals the pagan life. It revolves around two antagonistic ideas; the good and the evil. This is portrayed by the two main characters. The poem ends with triumph over the evil.

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