Broadly speaking, there are two ways to interpret Beowulf's final fight and the arc of his life; one either sees Beowulf's heroism as a virtue or as a flaw. Among the defenders of Beowulf's virtuous heroism is John D. Niles, who in 1986 pointed out that prior to the second half of the 20th century, most readers of Beowulf were “untroubled by suspicions that the poem's surface simplicity is undercut by moral ambiguities.”3 Yet, no where else in the poem is the juxtaposition of heroic triumph and human sorrow so pronounced as in the aftermath of the dragon-battle. Thi...
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...wler through the dark” is not some Grendel, but man's own violent nature.
Halsall, Guy, “Violence and Society in the Early Medieval West: An Introductory Survey,” in Violence and Society in the Early Medieval West, (Boydell Press, 2002).
Heaney, Seamus, Beowulf: A Verse Translation. ed. Daniel Donoghue, Norton Critical Edition edn (Norton, 2002).
Leyerle, John, “Beowulf the Hero and the King.” Medium aevum 34, no. 2 (1965).
---, “The Interlace Structure of Beowulf,” in Beowulf: A Verse Translation, ed. Daniel Donoghue.
Murtagh, Alfred, “Absent Beowulf.” The Heroic Age, no. 11 (May 2008) http://www.heroicage.org/issues/11/ba1.php (accessed February 4, 2010,).
Niles, John D, Beowulf: The Poem and Its Tradition. (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1983).
Whitelock, Dorothy, The Audience of Beowulf. (Clarendon Press, 1951).
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