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Essay on The Monsters in the Epic of Beowulf

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     The poem Beowulf, believed to be written between 650 and 800 by a group of monks, contains several complex characters that have sparked discussions throughout the years. Scholars still continue to ponder over the unanswered questions about characters, such as whether Grendel is monster or human, whether Grendel is evil or not, and what the monsters in Beowulf signify. Other important, though less accepted questions include whether Beowulf is really a hero, or is in actuality a monster, and what allows the characters to be classified as either evil, or not evil. Because both sides of these arguments can be sufficiently supported with textual evidence, it is the reader’s responsibility to defend an appropriate answer. There are no possible arguments critics could make to prove the dragon in Beowulf is not a monster that represents the evil in money. Also, it is generally accepted that Grendel is a monster that represents the evil of the Danes’ society, for few critics argue this fact. However, because it is generally accepted that Beowulf is a hero, no critics argue that the he is actually a monster that represents the evil in pride.     
 
     The most undisputed monster of the poem is the “slick- skinned…” dragon “…with streamers of fire” (Beowulf 155) that appears at the end of the poem, and eventually kills Beowulf. There is no possible argument one could make that the dragon is not a monster. However, the dragon is still important to the poem, and it still presents an important form of evil. The dragon is the representation of the evil of money in the story, or in other words the greed gold causes. The dragon “… guarded a hoard…” (Beowulf 151), and Beowulf died in an effort to kill the dragon and take the gold he so jealously guarded. Because of Beowulf’s and the dragon’s need for the money, they put their lives on the line, and ultimately die for the money. Which is ironic, for when they are both dying the money is brought out, and it is corroded and worthless, which symbolizes the worthlessness of all money. This theme is previously presented by the man who buries the treasure in the first place, realizing that the money is no good without people to use it. This is possibly foreshadowing the fact that now that Beowulf is dead his people will die as a result of the invasions they face. This proves that the money was not worth fighting and dyin...


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...acters of Beowulf, Grendel and the dragon can be classified as monsters based on textual evidence. These three monsters all present a type of evil in the poem. For example, Beowulf presents the evil in pride, Grendel presents the evil in the Danes’ society, and the dragon presents the evil in money. These forms of evil are central to the poem, and are what makes the poem the classic it is. There are no possible arguments critics could make to prove the dragon in Beowulf is not a monster that represents the evil in money. Also, it is generally accepted that Grendel is a monster that represents the evil of the Danes’ society, for few critics argue this fact. However, because it is generally accepted that Beowulf is a hero, no critics argue that the he is actually a monster that represents the evil in pride.      
Work Cited Beowulf. Trans. Seamus Heaney. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Gen. ed. Stephen Greenblatt. 9th ed. Vol. A. New York: Norton, 2012. 41-108. Print.


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