is a centuries old epic poem written in the 11th century. However, the
first battle describes what type of hero Beowulf is. As the poem keeps going,
the second battle can be described as the fight between good and evil. As
Wiglaf is showing his braveness for the last battle, we understand what it’s
like to be a hero. Each battle is very different from the last. In his quest
for glory, Beowulf fights three important battles – two monsters and one
dragon. These battles have similarities and differences; however, each contest
further matures Beowulf.
The first battle is a milestone for
Beowulf as he shows the world his mighty warrior skills. As the Geats
(Beowulf’s tribe) travel to Hrothgar’s kingdom, they are stopped by watchmen
and ordered the warriors to state their business. After talking with the king,
Beowulf and his crew set off to kill Grendel, a fierce monster who has plagued
the land for over a decade, “that monsters score of men is so great that he
needs no weapons and fears none”(L262-263). Grendel, the spawn of Cain, is
purely wretched by nature. His entire being is devoid of joy and empathy. Some
think that when he hears the jubilant parties that take place at Herot he is
filled with intense jealousy because he has never experienced anything happy.
As Beowulf is in position to kill, Grendel arrives at the mead hall. While
trying to fight back against Beowulf, Grendel losses his arm and suffers from severe
blood loss. As the beast scurries away to die we see how Beowulf reacts to his
victory. He becomes pompous as he shows his warriors the severed limb. This
reaction and boastfulness shows how developed Beowulf is.
The news of Grendel’s death travels
fast throughout the kingdom. However, when Grendel’s mother hears of this, she begins
her monstrous rampage. The second battle is between Beowulf and Grendel’s
mother. She has a very masculine figure with an unsightly face, “she welcomed
him with her claws”(L475). She attacked the men in the mead hall, she showed no
sign of logic but intended aggressiveness like a warrior. Grendel’s
mother attacked the mead hall to take a revenge for the death of her son,
before returning to her lair. In order to go fight with the mother, Beowulf then
ventured into her lake based home. He becomes more defensive while fighting the
beast. Beowulf represents his adult stage in the battle with Grendel’s mother
not as fierce but still very strong. It also makes him a greater hero when he
ventures into the lake to reach to the Grendel’s mother. In this battle we see that in a short time he
became a more mature warrior and humble for his victories.
The third battle is more than 50
years later, and Beowulf is now a king. Beowulf has reached the remarkable age
of 80. Beowulf the now king decides to take on the dragon. As the King and his
11 men approach the beast all but one runs away in fear. The battle with the
dragon symbolically opposes what it means to be a good king. Being a good kings means that one is willing
to give up his life to protect his kingdom. In this quote it shows how he will
fight to the death for his people, “Then Beowulf rose, still brave, still
strong.”(L650). Also this battle represents greed and destruction because the
dragon could breathe fire and melt swords, and then keep the valuable goods. As
Beowulf and Wiglaf fight the fire breathing beast, Beowulf loses his life in
the process. Beowulf showed true courage even when there was only one person to
back him up. Beowulf died for being a brave and prudent king.
The difference between the battles
is Beowulf. Every battle has its foe but they have a different hero each time.
As Beowulf becomes a seasoned warrior he understands when to be boastful and
when to be humble. Beowulf developed as the poem progressed. Throughout the
poem, you can see the similarities and differences of each battle, but the one
thing that is not held constant is Beowulf’s domineer.