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Interpretive Essay on Beowulf

Beowulf is a story that gives an account of a 6th Century hero by the same name and the various deeds he accomplishes. In the story, the author brings into perspective the romantic depiction of heroes as persons with supernatural powers and chivalrous characteristics. Different prominent themes in the report outline the nature and organization of society in the 6th Century. Familial relationships and lineages feature prominently in the story, where various characters introduce themselves using their family names. In addition, the role played by individuals in society outlines the importance of unity and cooperation among different communities. Although set in the 6th Century, the novel emphasizes the organization of society, various challenges, and how they are tackled. The society depicted in the book is a basic one where challenges are the order of the order, and people often dream of heroic characters that can deal with the constant dangers posed by evil.

Evil in the Society

In virtually every society, there is always evil or various challenges that people are forced to deal with constantly. Evil is prominent in Beowulf, and the author uses it to emphasize the importance of bravery in such a situation. Remain and Weaver explains that the society depicted in the story is far from perfect, and it reveals several human weaknesses. For instance, the Danes cannot subdue the threat caused by the demon Grendel. As a result, Grendel continues to terrify them, causing the death of many Danes, including prominent soldiers. Before the monster decides to torture the Danes, they enjoy a period of peace and prosperity where king Hrogthar of Denmark holds parties to celebrate. However, the parties upset the demon causing it to awake and cause havoc in the kingdom.

The author juxtaposes evil and good to bring society’s realities into perspective. There are always good and bad times, and human beings are often challenged with the task of enduring unfavorable periods. The Danes are forced to endure years of torture, where they lose the fight against Grendel every night. Toker (102) explains that the conflict between good and evil has existed since the beginning of time. The issue is not restricted to a religious society as would have been perceived because the society depicted in Beowulf is pagan. In essence, the author seeks to emphasize that the hearts of human beings possess both good and evil, and it depends on individual choices on which side they choose. In the story, the monster Grendel represents evil while the character of Beowulf characterizes good. However, the author provides an extreme side of both sides, thereby failing to accurately depict the reality in society.

The Triumph of Good

Human beings are constantly compelled to deal with evil in society has motivated artists to romanticize the idea of heroes. Fiction allows people to contemplate a perfect society where good always triumphs. Burýšek outlines some crucial elements that are necessary for good to defeat evil. For instance, when the Danes realize that they cannot defeat Grendel, they decide to accept the offer by Beowulf. On the other hand, Beowulf decides to assist the Danes when he hears of the terror unleashed upon them by Grendel. The realities depict a closely-knit society where people care about one another. The author also informs the audience that Heorot was a thriving community owing to the leadership of Hrogthar and his father. In essence, human beings should depend upon each other for prosperity.

Bravery is also an attribute that is emphasized in the story. Before Beowulf, no one has successfully confronted the monster. The story’s emphasis on familial relationships and legacies depicts a culture that promotes bravery. For instance, Hrogthar is aware that the father of Beowulf is a hero. Therefore, he does not hesitate to give the hero a chance to rid them of the monster. Furthermore, there are many instances in the story where brave men introduce themselves using the names of their families and fathers. According to Burýšek, bravery is an attribute that is always revered in society, and hero stories are used to explain instances where people have been brave in the past. In essence, every society needs brave individuals so that good can triumph and humanity can successfully deal with societal challenges.

The author also outlines that evil and good are not always definitive and might sometimes depend on perceptions. For instance, after the death of Grendel, the monster’s mother seeks revenge against Beowulf. As a result, the audience is momentarily confused about whether to sympathize with the monster’s mother or support the actions of Beowulf. Although the monster’s mother is eventually killed, the audience cannot ignore the situation’s complexity.


Beowulf is a story depicting the realities of good and evil in society and the associated conflicts. The author attempts to romanticize the issue by emphasizing that evil always triumphs. There are also certain realities present in the novel, such as the fact that the conflicts between evil and good and not always easy and direct, and that they might be subject to individual interpretations.

Works Cited

Burýšek, Jiří. “Beyond Beowulf: An Analysis of Beowulf’s Influence on Contemporary Epics .” Manchester Open Hive (2019).

Remain, Daniel C. and Erica Weaver, What the raven told the eagle: Animal language and the return of loss in Beowulf. Manchester University Press, 2019.

Toker, Alpaslan. “The Age-Old Conflict: Clash between Good and Evil in Beowulf and the Book of Dede Korkut.” AGATHOS 12.1 (2021): 101-116.


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