George Clark in “The Hero and the Theme” make reference to an interior conflict within the Beowulf hero himself, and how the hero appears to lose this conflict:
Although a strong critical movement followed Klaeber in taking Beowulf as a Christian hero or even Christ figure, the most numerous and influential body of postwar critics, including Margaret Goldsmith (1960, 1962, 1970), read the poem as faulting the hero for moral filures according to one or another Christian standard of judgment (see also Bolton 1978). The poem became a neo-Aritotelian tragedy in which the hero’s flaw could be identified as a sin, greed, or pride (279).
The conflicts of Beowulf are both external and internal, and are quite numerous. 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 Clark describes above and which takes place within the mind and soul of a given character.
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).
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...om 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
George Clark in “The Hero and the Theme” In A Beowulf Handbook, edited by Robert Bjork and John D. Niles. Lincoln, Nebraska: Uiversity of Nebraska Press, 1997.
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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