How Does Beowulf Die?

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English Literature has always been enriched by renowned poets, novelists and writers since times unknown. During the Anglo-Saxon period, an epic that won the hearts of readers was “How Does Beowulf Die”.

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Fact 1 An Anonymous Epic

The name of the creator of this epic work “How Does Beowulf Die” is not known. It belonged to the Anglo-Saxon Age and is perhaps the only work of this period that still survives. It features a dragon and presents a dragon slayer for the first time. The hero of the epic is Beowulf and his bravery. It depicts his fights with the dragon, references to earlier Geatish-Swedish wars and details of such wars.

Fact 2 Beginning Of The Epic

The epic belongs to the sixth century and the area is today’s Denmark and southwestern part of Sweden. At the beginning of the poem, there is a short genealogy of the Danish royal family referred to as Scylding after Scyld Scefing, who was a mythical hero. The story gradually shifts to the reign of the successful ruler, Hrothgar who was the grandson of Scyld. Grendel was an ogre who had been tormenting the kingdom for 12 long years. He had been raiding the famous Heorot and killing his warriors. It so happened that, at a feast, a drunken citizen named Unferth insulted Beowulf and challenged his strength and courage referring to his failure in a swimming contest. Beowulf explained the situation and how they were set apart by a storm and also related how he had killed nine sea-monsters before he swam back to the shore.

Fact 2 The Battle

Beowulf was sure that the monstrous demon, Grendel will surely attack them and so he was awake along with his accomplices. He was in a terrified mood and pouncing on the Geats, killed one of them and then attacked Beowulf. A strong and courageous man as he was, Beowulf, with the strength of thirty men, seized Grendel’s claws and held him tight. A fierce battle was fought that almost destroyed the great hall of Heorot and finally Beowulf ripped Grendels claws and claimed his own victory. The beast ran for his life to his pool. The claw-trophy was hung up high under the roof of Heorot – the war-field where Beowulf defeated Grendel as a mark of victory. On the next day, a great feast was held to celebrate the victory where a famous bard Hrothgar sang about the earlier victories of the Danes and he also creates a song in praise of Beowulf. Queen Wealhtheow takes part in the feast like a perfect hostess. She offers a gold collar to Beowulf as a mark of gratitude for saving them for the prolonged attacks of Grendel.

Fact 3 The Later Events

Grendel’s mother, a less powerful ogre, could not bear her son’s defeat and she stole the son’s claws that night from Heorot. Beowulf could not sit still and soon with his followers arrived at her hiding place and after a terrible battle managed to kill Grendel’s mother with a magic sword. At that moment a bright light shone inside the dark cavern and Beowulf spotted the corpse of Grendel and huge chest of treasured. He returned with the treasure and a golden cup. The other demons soon ravaged the kingdom killing people and burning houses. Beowulf and his accomplices set out to fight the dragon. He insisted on fighting him alone but his sword was not strong enough to protect him. Wiglaf, his follower helped him and both together killed the dragon. However, Beowulf was severely wounded and before dying, he left his kingdom to Wiglaf. According to his last wish he was cremated in a funeral pyre and buried on the top of a cliff near the seaside for sailors to see the barrow that he had retrieved from the dragon.

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