Beowulf's only weaknesses are his ego and pride, which lead him to recklessly take on challenges alone. This sets him apart from Greek and Roman heroes, who always have a tragic flaw that leads to their destruction.Know More
After a night of boasting, Beowulf takes on the dreaded monster Grendel and then dives deep into a pool after Grendel's deadly mother. Beowulf does these things without fear, sometimes even without weapons, with the confidence that he will succeed.
Even when he is older and weaker, he tackles a dragon by himself. When he is mortally wounded in defeating the dragon, he accepts the fate that decreed he would die at that point. This separates Beowulf from the Greek classical heroes, whose fates were caused by their own bad choices at critical moments. Beowulf must fight the dragon or accept the death of many. In fighting it, he demonstrated Western fatalism, rather than Greek hamartia.Learn more about Classics
The monsters in "Beowulf" are all broadly symbolic of the marginal outsider in society, something to be isolated and destroyed to maintain social order. However, each monster has its own specific significance, whether drawing on biblical or mythological symbolism.Full Answer >
In the poem "Beowulf," Grendel's mother is described as a female monster and sea hag. She generally lacks humanity, but she does seek revenge for her son's death, which can be viewed as a distinctly human quality. Full Answer >
The poem "Beowulf" has a caesura in almost every line. In fact, because the caesura was one of the fundamental features of Old English poetry, almost all poems written in that language have numerous examples of caesurae.Full Answer >
Beowulf is concerned primarily with matters of identity and ideology. It could be said that the main struggle in the poem is between individual self-determination and heritage, and the many conflicts in codes and morality that stem from this tension.Full Answer >