The Epic of Beowulf: Order Overpowers Chaos

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Order Overpowers Chaos

In the epic poem Beowulf, the warrior hero Beowulf chooses to confront the tyrannical monster Grendel in his own domain, the hijacked mead hall of Heorot. A battle of brute strength ensues, in which Grendel, unable to escape his opponent’s awesome armgrip, rips away from his own arm and flees, dying soon after from bloodloss. Beowulf’s victory, though relatively early in the story, is a pivotal moment that signifies the defeat of discord and the return of civilization. Due to the stark differences in their appearances, lineages, and tactics of warfare, Grendel and Beowulf in battle symbolize the recurring conflict between chaos and order.
When it comes to physical form, Grendel’s wild nature is demonstrated by
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By choosing to ambush his enemies in their moments of vulnerability, Grendel highlights his own lack of ethical standards, as well as his inner cowardice, both shameful traits for a warrior to possess. His tactics of constant war and ignorance with respect to war atonement also feature his savage essence, making him the embodiment of lawlessness. In reference to his opponent, Beowulf states that “‘He has no idea of the arts of war, of shield or sword-play, although he does possess a wild strength. No weapons, therefore, for either this night: unarmed he shall face me if face me he dares. And may the Divine Lord in His wisdom grant the glory of victory to whichever side He sees fit’” (681-687). His decision to battle Grendel without arms exemplifies both his sense of honor in warfare as well as his courage; on a different note, it is also indicative of his intelligence, as none of the other warriors were aware that Grendel’s hide was impervious to weapons. Additionally, Beowulf accepts that the fate of the brawl will ultimately be chosen by God, demonstrating his moral values. As a result, Grendel represents disorder through his cowardly war strategies and his unethical values; Beowulf, on the other hand, symbolizes organized society due to his courtesy in war as well as his valor. By virtue of their
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