J.D.A. Ogilvy and Donald C. Baker in “Beowulf’s Heroic Death” comment on the hero’s culpability in his final conflict:
. . .the author describes Beowulf and the dragon lying dead side by side and observes rather sententiously that it was a bad business fighting with a dragon or disturbing his hoard. Beowulf, he adds, had paid for the treasure with his life. Some commentators seem to consider this passage, combined with Wiglaf’s remarks about Beowulf’s insistence on fighting the dragon alone, as a criticism of Beowulf’s conduct (69).
Beowulf contains considerable conflict, both external and internal. Conflict is how one describes the relationship between the protagonist and antagonist in a literary work (Abrams 225). There is also another type of conflict which takes place within the mind of a given character. These two types of conflict occur within this poem.
H. L. Rogers in “Beowulf’s Three Great Fights” expresses his opinion as a literary critic regarding conflicts in the poem:
The superhuman forces are Fate, the heathen gods, or the Christian God; conflicts between them and the hero’s character are frequently found. . . .The treatment in the three great fights of the motives of weapons, treasure and society implies a moral idea in which the poet believed: that a man should not trust in the things of this world, for they will fail him. Another aspect of this idea comes out clearly in the account of the first fight: that a man should trust rather in God and in the natural powers God gives him, for these will not fail him(234-37).
King Hrothgar’s construction of Heorot and the subsequent enhancement of the joy of the Danes precipitated t...
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...with repeated conflict!
Abrams, M. H. A Glossary of Literary Terms, 7th ed. New York: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1999.
BEOWULF. From The Harvard Classics, Volume 49. P.F. Collier & Son, 1910.
Translated by Francis B. Gummere. http://wiretap.area.com/ftp.items/Library/Classic/beowulf.txt
Clover, Carol F. “The Unferth Episode.” In The Beowulf Reader, edited by Peter S. Baker. New York: Garland Publishing, 2000.
Ogilvy, J.D.A. and Donald C. Baker. “Beowulf’s Heroic Death.” In Readings on Beowulf, edited by Stephen P. Thompson. San Diego: Greenhaven Press,1998.
Clark, George. Beowulf. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1990.
Rogers, H. L. “Beowulf’s Three Great Fights.” In An Anthology of Beowulf Criticism, edited by Lewis E. Nicholson. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1963.
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