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Mother, And Human Characteristics In The Warrior Culture Of Beowulf

Decent Essays
Heroism is one of the most values traits in the warrior culture of Beowulf. The three monsters that Beowulf encounters behave with human characteristics, such as envy, grief, and anger, which undermine conventional notions of Beowulf’s heroism. In contrast, the often discussed past battles between human warring clans of greed and rivalry strengthen his heroism. Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the dragon all act with human qualities, undermining Beowulf’s heroism. Grendel has a miserable backstory: he was one of Cain’s clan and after Cain killed Abel, Grendel lived with many other unhappy outlawed monsters. Driven by his envy of the joy and feasting at Heorot Hall, he attacks, and his human characteristics are shown. In a battle of pure strength, Beowulf and Grendel fight in a hand-grip, a display of prowess that seems civilized and human-like. Grendel’s death leads to his mother’s attack. She is seeking vengeance for his murder. The text describes her as “grief-racked and ravenous, desperate for revenge” (1278). This is a civilized response, especially when compared to the warrior culture, where clans are expected to act in accordance to feuds and blood prices. Beowulf’s heroism is undermined in this battle because this is an ongoing feud (Grendel attacks the hall, Beowulf kills Grendel, Grendel’s mother kills Aeschere, Beowulf kills Grendel’s mother). It is also not a meeting of good and evil, as Beowulf’s fights appear to be depicted by the text, because Grendel’s mother
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