(BENEVOLENCE) Beowulf's Success
"Fate often saves an undoomed man when his courage is good." (34)
Beowulf says this earlier in the story. He tells everyone at Hrothgar's court he is able to achieve great things because of his intent only to do good deeds, and also because he is so brave. This passage also contains the idea of "wyrd," which says fate rules all things.
Beowulf is speaking here to Hrothgar after the murder of Aeschere. He says for him not to be sad and to remember the importance of revenge as part of the warrior code.
Beowulf makes a boast or pledge here. He tells Hrothgar he will find and kill Grendel's mother. He says that she cannot hide from him. No matter where she goes, he will seek her out. Now that he has made this boast, he must follow through on it. Otherwise, he will lose honor.
This quotation describes the heat and color (red) of the lake in which the monsters live. The description can be likened to hell. Hell is usually thought of as an underground world which is hot and red because of the fire that burns there.
"Then they saw on the water many a snake-shape, strong sea-serpents exploring the mere, and water-monsters lying on the slopes of the shore such as those that in the morning often attend a perilous journey on the paths of the sea, serpents and wild beasts." (45)
There are many serpents, as well as other monstrous creatures. Their presence in the lake adds to the evil environment that exists there. Serpents in Christianity are symbols for evil, as in the Biblical story of Adam and Eve.
The armoring of a warrior was a very important ritual in pagan society. A very detailed description is given of Beowulf's armor. The quality of his suit is very high, because of the great protection it gives to his body. His helmet is also quite well-made and contains the very special boar-image. This image will help give Beowulf more strength in his battle. The armor itself is also described as going to the monster's cave with Beowulf. It is personified in this way, like the famous swords which are given names.
Unferth realizes that Beowulf has more strength and courage than himself. He gives to him a special sword named Hrunting. Hrunting is the sword that has helped Unferth to gain the favorable position he has held thus far. At this point, Unferth loses his status and Beowulf gains even more of a great reputation.
Earlier in the story, Unferth doubts Beowulf's abilities and says that Breca was a better swimmer than he was when they competed. Beowulf responds by pointing out all the monsters he killed. He goes into detail about the match and the difficulty of it. He and Breca were at sea for five nights in terrible weather, yet he managed to kill nine sea monsters. Beowulf then tells Unferth that he has not heard of anyone ever accomplishing as much as he has. When Unferth gives Beowulf Hrunting, he no longer doubts his abilities as a warrior and loses his reputation as a great fighter.
Here, Beowulf demonstrates his true heroic qualities. In case he should not return from his fight, he tells Hrothgar that he is like a father to him, and that he should take care of his companions and give his wealth to Hygelac. He shows love, concern, generosity, and humility. He recognizes that he is human and can die in battle, despite his remarkable strength.
(Fire)The monster's home
"He saw firelight, a clear blaze shine bright." (46)
At this point, Beowulf is in the monster's home and is able to see her because of the light from the fire which burns there. This fire supports the idea that this may be hell, since it is considered to be a place where fire burns.
Important Terms and People