Scene Analysis

As a very historically significant literary work, "Beowulf," illustrates many critical insights into the time period in which it was written. In this specific scene, there are many significant points concerning the legend of Beowulf and also the time period it was written. A significant portrayal in this scene is the description and background of Grendel and Grendel's mother. Also, the scene illustrates the strength and death-defying nature of warriors of the time period, they were warriors who were dedicated to strict customs and traditions, and have very little or no fear of death. Another significant issue raised in this scene is certain rules and customs that warriors possessed at this time, most importantly that of revenge for murder.

This scene serves to greatly intensify the story, in that the arrival of Grendel's mother has brought about a feud that essentially defines the epic. Grendel and Grendel's mother bring to the story a sense of a beastly, murderous force. Most significantly, Grendel and his mother cause a discrepancy in that Grendel's parent figure is his mother rather than his father. This fact serves to disassociate Grendel and his mother from the human warriors in the story, and at a time where men lived in the shadow of their father, this is quite strange. Hrothgar explains this family structure when he says "They know of no father, in earlier times any was begotten for then among the dark spirits." (24) The unnatural ora surrounding Grendel's and his mother's existence make the pair extremely difficult to comprehend or analyze. One factor that might explain Grendel's strange ancestry is the fact that he is a descendent of Cain, and through this one could argue that Grendel's ancestry is cursed due to Cain originating slaying of one's own family member.

The warrior of the time period is described very well in this specific scene. Throughout the epic, Beowulf is described as a strong warrior, with characteristics of a modern day superhero. In this scene however, we see Beowulf out of battle, but still hardened with pride and fearless vigor. When Beowulf says to Hrothgar "Arise, guardian of the kingdom, let us go at once to look on the track of Grendel's kin. I promise you this: she will not be lost under cover…"(25), we see his braveness before the battle even begins. We see that Beowulf was not at all afraid of death, which is a common quality of warriors at the time. Another time in which this is displayed is when the story reads, "Beowulf put on his warriors dress, had no fear for his life…(26). Beowulf represents more than just the ideal warrior of the time, he represents a superhuman force that other warriors, even some of the strongest warriors, admired and looked to for support, just as Hrothgar does in this scene.

Among many other significant depictions, "Beowulf" portrays the customs and traditions of the time period. Most importantly was the custom surrounding revenge for murder. This honor code is best depicted in the feud with Grendel's mother. Although Grendel and his mother are depicted as evil beasts, Grendel's mother possesses a certain validity in her revenge of her son's death; it almost makes the slaying justifiable. This is due to the custom in which revenge was almost expected when a family member, or even fellow warrior is murdered. This aspect is best described when Beowulf says "Sorrow not, wise warrior. It is better for a man to avenge his friend than much mourn. Each of us must await his end of the world's life…Let him who may get glory before death: that is the best for the warrior…(25). This depicts the warriors' mentality at the time, they are accustomed, and almost expected to avenge the death of a friend. This revenge acts as a way to gain glory, respect and fame for the warriors.

"Beowulf" serves to depict very clearly many customs, beliefs, and traditions of the Anglo-Saxon time period, and these elements shine greatly in this specific scene. Whether it is the power and death-defying nature of the warriors, or the alien force of creatures such as Grendel and Grendel's mother, we see the great power of the Beowulf epic to illustrate the time period at hand.