why does beowulf fight the dragon
They are 'inmates of hell', 'adversaries of God', 'offspring of Cain', 'enemies of mankind'....And so Beowulf, for all that he moves in the world of the primitive Heroic Age of the Germans, nevertheless is almost a Christian knight". Describe the battle between Beowulf and the dragon. Beowulf: Beowulf is an epic poem about a warrior named Beowulf who fights to protect the innocent. Beowulf is a hero who previously killed two monsters. The dragon fight, occurring at the end of the poem, is foreshadowed in earlier scenes. "[13], A study of German and Norse texts reveals three typical narratives for the dragonslayer: a fight for the treasure, a battle to save the slayer's people, or a fight to free a woman. In Beowulf's two earlier battles, Grendel and Grendel's mother are characterized as descendants of Cain: "[Grendel] had long lived in the land of monsters / since the creator cast them out / as the kindred of Cain"[15] and seem to be humanoid: in the poet's rendition they can be seen as giants, trolls, or monsters. Losing his shield to the dragon's flames, Wiglaf hides behind Beowulf's, and they renew the attack. But it's too late. The dragon cannot be killed like Grendel was. To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page. He burns vast amounts of territory and the homes of the Geats: "the dragon began to belch out flames / and burn bright homesteads". He manages to kill the dragon, but it costs him his life. At his death, peace in his lands will end, and his people will again suffer a period of war and hardship. Beowulf does die during his battle with the dragon, but he is not shamed into the battle. In his death-speech, Beowulf nominates Wiglaf as his heir and asks for a monument to be built for him on the shoreline. [1] The scene is structured in thirds, ending with the deaths of the dragon and Beowulf. But this battle will be unlike any he's ever seen. On his return from Heorot, where he killed Grendel and Grendel's mother, Beowulf becomes king of the Geats and rules wisely for fifty years until a slave awakens and angers a dragon by stealing a jeweled cup from its lair. But fearing the beast, Beowulf requests a special shield made of iron. Beowulf is the first piece of English literature to present a dragon-slayer. Get the unbiased info you need to find the right school. Beowulf decides to fight the dragon just as he once fought Grendel. But fearing the beast, Beowulf requests a special shield made of iron. "[8] Furthermore, Tolkien believes the Beowulf poet emphasizes the monsters Beowulf fights in the poem and claims the dragon is as much of a plot device as anything. Visit the Beowulf Study Guide page to learn more. It left Beowulf to do the seeking out". To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member. [21] The people's fate depend on the outcome of the fight between the hero and the dragon, and, as a hero, Beowulf must knowingly face death. The habit is so well known that examples are superfluous". … Fifty years pass with Beowulf in charge, when a local dragon is angered when a slave enters its lair and takes a cup from its treasure. A lot has happened in that time, most notably the deaths in battle of Hygelac, Beowulf's uncle and king of the Geats, and both of Hygelac's sons. 99 lessons Beowulf is the oldest extant heroic poem in English and the first to present a dragon slayer. Wiglaf kills the dragon halfway through the scene, Beowulf's death occurs "after two-thirds" of the scene,[33] and the dragon attacks Beowulf three times. How does Beowulf intend to fight the dragon the second time? Since we know he was a grown man in the first two sections of the epic tale, he must be nearing an age of seventy or older at this point. The desertion of the thanes is indicative of the crumbling of the Anglo-Saxon way of life. Beowulf collapses. The one courageous man who remains behind is Wiglaf. The shield holds off the flame, but when Beowulf tries to strike the dragon, his sword fails him, and Beowulf is left unarmed. The first is revenge, the dragon burned his home and throne down even though Beowulf had done nothing to the dragon. Beowulf tells his men to stay outside, that this fight is his alone, but the dragon proves too strong and mortally wounds Beowulf. After a thief steals from the dragon's horde, the dragon goes on a rampage and terrorizes the Geats. The throne passes to Beowulf, and he rules wisely and well for a long, long time. Beowulf’s fight against the dragon shows Beowulf as a hero. [34] Ultimately, as Tolkien writes in Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics (1936), the death by dragon "is the right end for Beowulf," for he claims, "a man can but die upon his death-day". Select a subject to preview related courses: He asks Wiglaf to build him a tower so he'll be remembered. study However, more importantly,... See full answer below. Dragons were notoriously difficult to kill, and the poem states that it was a great man, who could kill a dragon, even if it meant losing one’s life. Beowulf asks Wiglaf to bring him some of the treasure from the dragon's hoard so he can see what he is dying for. How does Beowulf's decision to take on the dragon alone reflect a critique of the ethos of heroism? Beowulf is not going to trust fate and his bare hands to protect him any more. Anyone can earn Even Beowulf's mighty mead hall falls to the dragon's fury. answer choices . In fact, it's been so peaceful that most of the young warriors have never had to fight at all, and this proves disastrous. Why does Beowulf want to fight the dragon alone? | {{course.flashcardSetCount}} He cuts the dragon in the belly to reduce the flames, and Beowulf deals the fatal blow. [3] Secular Germanic literature and the literature of Christian hagiography featured dragons and dragon fights. The treasure lies in the dark and rots rather than helping the thanes and the kingdom. What happened upon Beowulf's return to his homeland? [40] Adrien Bonjour opined in 1953 that the dragon's "ultimate significance in the poem" remains a "mystery". There are two main reasons Beowulf feels he must fight the dragon. It is only when joined by Wiglaf that Beowulf is able to turn the tide of battle. In this, the dragon represents all that is wrong with society. Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support. He and his thanesclimb to the dragon's lair whe… The dragon attacks again, covering Wiglaf and Beowulf in fire. … 12. Who is Wiglaf? Sciences, Culinary Arts and Personal Although many motifs common to the Beowulf dragon existed in the Scandinavian and Germanic literature, the Beowulf poet was the first to combine features and present a distinctive fire-breathing dragon. [40], In Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics, J. R. R. Tolkien noted that the dragon and Grendel are "constantly referred to in language which is meant to recall the powers of darkness which Christian men felt themselves to be encompassed. Why does Beowulf fight the dragon? But Beowulf is no longer just a warrior; he's a king. He goes in with a shield and a sword and other warriors to help him. Earn Transferable Credit & Get your Degree, Beowulf Pride Quotes: Examples & Analysis, Grendel's Battle with Beowulf: Character & Summary, Characteristics of Beowulf as a Tragic Hero, Who Was Beowulf? His imagined elegy foreshadows Beowulf's death and elegy to come. just create an account. 9. The stories, moreover, are often attached to real persons and localized precisely in time and place. But this battle is unlike the battles the young warrior ever faced, and the outcome is very different than his earlier triumphs. Not sure what college you want to attend yet? In a way, that makes this Beowulf's fight much more than the other battles were. 8 chapters | Immediately, the dragon breathes fire over Beowulf. [46] J. R. R. Tolkien used the dragon story of Beowulf as a template for Smaug of The Hobbit; in each case, the dragon awakens upon the hoard being disturbed by one stealing a chalice and goes into a wrathful rampage until slain by another person. [2] Within the plot structure, however, the dragon functions differently in Beowulf than in Tolkien's fiction. In northern literature there are only two that are significant ... we have but the dragon of the Völsungs, Fáfnir, and Beowulf's bane. … 13. Dickerson and O'Hara further elaborated that through its dragon, Beowulf turned the "notion of having a monstrous evil (and not mere human foes) as the enemy" into "a hallmark of modern fantasy" present in C. S. Lewis' Narnia books, Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea books, and the Thomas Covenant series by Stephen Donaldson. They haven't just deserted him, they've deserted the heroic code and all that was important to Anglo-Saxon warriors. [7], Beowulf scholar J. R. R. Tolkien considered the dragon in Beowulf to be one of only two real dragons in northern European literature, writing of it, "dragons, real dragons, essential both to the machinery and the ideas of a poem or tale, are actually rare. [29], The dragon battle is structured in thirds: the preparation for the battle, the events prior to the battle, and the battle itself. The dragon wakes up and realizes a cup is gone. What does he do? Beowulf wants to face the dragon by himself partially to protect his followers, who could easily be killed by the dragon. The 17th act of the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf includes Beowulf's fight with a dragon, the third monster he encounters in the epic. Beowulf decided to fight the Dragon even though he was old. imaginable degree, area of Create an account to start this course today. Not that it refused to fight when challenged, but that it did not seek out Beowulf or anyone else. [20] In contrast with the previous battles, the fight with the dragon occurs in Beowulf's kingdom and ends in defeat, whereas Beowulf fought the other monsters victoriously in a land distant from his home. Plus, get practice tests, quizzes, and personalized coaching to help you When the angry dragon mercilessly burns the Geats' homes and lands, Beowulf decides to fight and kill the monster personally. The scene includes extended flashbacks to the Geatish-Swedish wars, a detailed description of the dragon and the dragon-hoard, and ends with intricate funerary imagery. How is the dragon defeated? Beowulf manages to pull out a knife tucked in his belt and stabs the dragon. The dragon never finds the cup. [39] W. P. Ker criticized the inclusion of Beowulf's fight with the dragon and his subsequent death in the poem, writing "It is as if to the end of the Odyssey there had been added some later books telling in full of the old age of Odysseus, far from the sea, and his death at the hands of Telegonus". [38] Raymond Wilson Chambers, in his Beowulf: An Introduction to the Study of the Poem with a Discussion of the Stories of Offa and Finn, says that Beowulf's dragon acts like "the typical dragon of Old English proverbial lore" because he guards treasure. [2] Beowulf is the earliest surviving piece of Anglo-Saxon literature to feature a dragon, and it is possible that the poet had access to similar stories from Germanic legend. Perhaps the dragon fighting should have been left to a younger hero. He shouts a challenge to his opponent, who emerges from the earth. Briefly describe the dragon in Beowulf. Why does Beowulf want to fight the dragon alone? He is driven by his desire for fame (fighting the most fearsome monster in the world will earn him undying renown in songs and tales). As a member, you'll also get unlimited access to over 83,000 [47] Aia Hussein of the National Endowment for the Humanities has written that the fight between Harry Potter and the Hungarian Horntail in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000) by J. K. Rowling was influenced by the confrontation between the dragon and the title character in Beowulf.[48]. [10] Job's dragon would have been accessible to the author of Beowulf, as a Christian symbol of evil, the "great monstrous adversary of God, man and beast alike.


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