Monday, November 4, 2013


Throughout the ages, the conflict of good versus evil has been included in many stories and poems, such as Beowulf. In this poem, Beowulf must face and defeat monsters, including the evil Grendel. Through bloody and gruesome fights, Beowulf continuously triumphs over the monsters, symbolizing the victory of good over evil. In Beowulf, the narrator uses allusions, archetypes, and imagery to illustrate how good always triumphs over evil.
            The narrator uses allusions to characterize Grendel as evil. Grendel is described as a "monster born of Cain", alluding to the biblical story of Cain and Abel (20-21). According to the Bible, Cain was cursed by God for murdering Cain's brother, Abel. When the narrator mentions Grendel's genealogy, he is proving Grendel's evilness. By being a descendant of Cain, Grendel is also cursed by God, and therefore is the epitome of evil. Although Grendel represents this evil, he is still able to be defeated. Grendel ends up dead, symbolizing the death of the evilness. With such an evil creature dying, the creature loses the ultimate battle.
            Beowulf is an archetype of the Epic Hero. The narrator uses this archetype to prove his point about good winning the battle against evil because in being a hero Beowulf is considered good. Beowulf falls into this Epic Hero category due to his possession of the proper characteristics of the Epic Hero. For instance, he is brought into the story while Herot is already experiencing extreme turmoil and terror. Grendel is already killing the innocent people of Herot and "[running] out with their bodies" before Beowulf is even mentioned (38). Once he is included in the poem,   Beowulf encounters the monster Grendel, a Grendel's mother, and a dragon, and easily defeats those adversaries, alone. No one else dares encounter these tasks. To be an epic hero, one must also be the perfect hero in the eyes of the culture the hero is coming from. Beowulf is the perfect example of an Anglo-Saxon warrior, also adding to his title as an Epic Hero, since he belongs to the Anglo-Saxon culture. Beowulf lives and dies honorably, drinks a lot, and fights monsters. Because of this, he is a prime example of an Anglo-Saxon hero. He is also a prime example of a Epic Hero, which proves his goodness. Since he is the symbol of this goodness, and he defeats the evil monsters, symbolically good defeats evil many times in this poem.
            Bloody fights between Beowulf and his opponents, demonstrated by the gruesome imagery, symbolize the battles between good and evil. The narrator describes how Grendel's shoulder is "bleeding sinews deep in his shoulder snapped, muscle and bone split and broke" to emphasize the struggle between Grendel and Beowulf (497-499). In order to split and break Grendel's strong muscles and bones, the fight must have been extremely violent. This violence symbolizes the violence between the fight of good and evil. Just as it took a lot to damage and ultimately kill Grendel, it sometimes takes just as much to damage and kill the evilness. But, it is possible, as we see with Beowulf and Grendel. Beowulf always wins, just as good always wins over evil.

            Try as it might, evil cannot overcome good, as is evident in Beowulf. Grendel represents evil and Beowulf represents good. Because Beowulf finishes Grendel, it is concluded that good defeats evil. This realization creates the truth of the poem; good prevails over evil. 

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