Argumentative Essay on Beowulf

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University of Richmond
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Argumentative essay
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Beowulf is the study of a dual ordeal: An external battle with vicious opponents and an internal battle with human tendencies of pride, greed, cowardice, betray, and revenge.


Beowulf is one the oldest and popular Anglo-Saxon poetry it involves a hero who fights extraordinary powers and evil spirits in his lifespan to keep his people safe. It is an example of dual ordeal where the hero deals with evils in the society as that attacks not only his physical being but also his mind. The dual trial in the story occurs when the hero is confronted by vicious opponents as well as internal battles with human tendencies of pride, greed, cowardice, betrayal, and revenge. In the poem, Beowulf the peom can be said to be a dual odearl as the hero fights supernatural powers and evil spirits as well as fighing his internal battles. This statement can be justified by this study and dicusssion.

External Battles

Exteranal battles are when an individual is confronted by the eternal powers such as a fight with a different person, conflict between an individual and the community, or when a soldier face the enemies in the battlefield. The first battle that Beowulf's face involves a character known as Grendel who was describe using words such as this monster grim haunting the marches marauding round to health fen and fastness and a banished creation of Cains kin (Beowulf 101-108). There are various conditions that Grendel put forth to make the fight fair for his opponent. For example, Grendel says that he hereby renounce sword, and the shelter of the broad shield according to Beowulf (436-437). Despite the difficulty that was faced in the battle against this vicious creature, Beowulf managers to win the fight as soon as he rips the handoff the monster. From this fight, we see that the hero Beowulf fights fearlessly despite the fact that his opponent was an extraordinary being. However, ripping off the arm of Grendel and winning the first battle is just the beginning of his many more coming battle in the future.

The second opponent with extra powers was the mother to Grendel. She came to battle to avenge her son who died in the hands of the hero Beowulf. She puts a dangerous and fearful battle held under water to show how furious she was towards Beowulf. Beowulf had a sword that was given to him by Unferth, but the weapon fails him. However, he manages to find a magical sword which seems to have been directed to him by fate. This magic weapon is used to kill the fearfulness and dangerous opponent. As if the battle was not enough for the victory, Beowulf seeks and seizes Grendels body as a trophy for his fight. It was this conflict and action that brought fame to Beowulf and at the same time restoring peace in the kingdom of Hrothgars. The fight against the evil Grendel and his mother who came seeking for revenge is a good example of the external fights involving spirits. The mother and son in this battle represents the supernatural powers that Beowulf defeated in his youth to restore a lasting peace in his kingdom.

The last fight that Beowulf fought involved a fierce dragon. This battle happened after Beowulf had ruled his country for close to 50 years. This happened to be his last battle in the field, and it resulted in his death, leaving the kingdom without a king, or a hero to take his place. However, before he could die on the battlefield at the fate of the dragon, Beowulf ensured that the enemy dies so that he could leave the kingdom with peace. He slew the dragons head before he could take his last breath. The dragon was a very fierce creature that scared all other Beowulfs men away from the battlefield. However, since Beowulf wanted to maintain his pride and at the same time providehis people with a land free of threat, he could not run for his safety. In other words, he chose pride and power over his safety.


Other than the external, fierce, and supernatural fights that Beowulf fought and won, there were the intimate encounters involving pride, greed, cowardice, betrayal, and self-concern. In each and persons mind, there are always questions relating to the ways in which they handle the external conflict. The manifestation of eternal fights can be judged form the internal perspective of the individual in question.

During his reign, Beowulf and the community believed that fame and pride were the top achievements a man could achieve. It is evident from the time that Beowulf arrived in the kingdom that it was pride which was his primary source of motivation as described by his arrival to the Kingdom where the leader of the troop unlocked his word-hoard (Beowulf 258). He also carried himself with great pride even in the face of a battle as fierce as that of the dragon spitting fire. It can be said that Beowulf was faced with a struggle between choosing his safety against the pride. However, he chose pride over security and faced the dragon fearlessly and won the battle always to be remembered for his pride and fame.

On the one hand, the internal conflict between Beowulf and his greed for fame and power led him to fight for his community ("Beowulf (Modern English Translation) By Anonymous"). On the contrary, the dragon can be seen as a symbol of greed, and Beowulf took the challenge for his greed. Over the cause of the poem, we see many fighting battles which at the end of the day fails to satisfy the need for the combat. In other words, one may be tempted to ask if the fights were worth it or people were just fighting for their heart desires.

On the other hand, cowardice can be depicted in the last battle when Beowulf men refuse to get involved in the fierce fight against the dragon. These meant flee the battlefield leaving only Beowulf and his successor in the battlefield. Lastly, throughout the poem, our hero, Beowulf puts his self-concerns away from the actions he undertakes, such as fighting for the greater good of his people (Norris 435-438). In this case, the men in the battlefield can be said to have betrayed Beowulf for their own fears and self-concerns.


From the discussion and evidence provided in this study, we can conclude that Beowulf is not just an epic poem about superheroes who fight for their communities; but it is a tier of the dual ordeal. Beowulf not only battles the evil spirits and fierce enemies in the society, but he also confronts other fights internally. Of the many issues that he faces n his internal being, pride, greed, self-concern, and betrayal.


Work Cited

"Beowulf (Modern English Translation) By Anonymous." Poetry Foundation. N.p., 2017. Web. 2 Oct. 2017.

Norris, Robin. "Resistance To Genocide In The Postmodern Beowulf." Literature Compass8.7 (2011): 435-438. Web.


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