summary of the beowulf

Summary Of The Beowulf. Easy Explanation Of Summary & Plot!

Beowulf is considered one of the longest surviving poems of Old English Literature or Traditional English literature. Alliterative Meter has been used in the work and is written by an Anonymous writer. It is believed to be written by Anglo-Saxons but no single name of a writer is available. The setting of Beowulf is northern Europe, Denmark, and Sweden. Beowulf talks about Vengeance, Loyalty, and of course, Bravery. 

Beowulf Summary And Plot

The plot of Beowulf commences with a monster by the name of Grendel attacking Hrothgar, King of Denmark, and his vast hall of merriment and joy, Heorot. As a symbol of his valor and significant victories, Hrothgar constructed Heorot, where his ministers and other guests can relax and enjoy beverages. Grendel becomes so enraged whenever there is a celebration in Heorot that he attacks the hall and slaughters anybody he can find. 

Hrothgar’s troops are unable to fight the monster, so he is forced to evacuate his great hall and prohibit all gatherings in order to stop Grendel from attacking again. A while afterward, Beowulf, a young Geatland warrior, learns of Hrothgar’s problems and, with his king’s approval, departs his own country to aid King Hrothgar. As soon as he arrives in Denmark, Beowulf demands that Hrothgar throw open the doors of his empty hall and let him and his soldiers stay the night in Heorot.

Strong and optimistic, Beowulf is confident that he can defeat the monster. He also made sure he wasn’t carrying any weapons because he intended to confront Grendel without them. After some time, Grendel enters the hall as predicted, starting a bloody conflict. When rushing to aid Beowulf, his allies pull their swords but are unable to breach the monster’s skin. During the ongoing battle, Beowulf rips Grendel’s arm from his body, at which point the monster escapes to his home at the lake’s bottom and dies there.

Beowulf triumphantly gives King Hrothgar the entire shoulder and arm of Grendel the following day. The King rewards Beowulf generously and grants him and his companions new quarters befitting of their valor. After rejoicing in Grendel’s defeat at night, Hrothgar and his followers go back to staying in Heorot. When Beowulf is away, Grendel’s mother storms Heorot and takes vengeance by killing everyone she can, including Aeschere, Hrothgar’s most devoted fighter. Beowulf follows Grendel’s mother to her home with the assistance of King Hrothgar and his troops.

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Hrothgar informs Beowulf that the lake is cursed and home to numerous monsters and other beasts. At this point, a warrior by the name of Unferth who had earlier challenged Beowulf apologizes for having doubted him and gives the warrior his family’s sword, Hrunting, while claiming that the weapon has never fallen against an opponent. Beowulf rushes into the lake to search for Grendel’s mother after appointing King Hrothgar to administer his will. Beowulf spends hours swimming to the lake’s bottom. Gerendel’s mother attacks as he approaches the bottom and tightens her grip on him. Fortunately, Beowulf’s armor prevents him from being trampled by Grendel’s mother.

Then, at the monster’s command, several sea creatures torment and assault Beowulf as she drags him to her court. Beowulf pulls out Hrunting, the renowned sword Unferth had handed him before he dove into the lake, but it is unable to pierce the monster’s skin. The monster is subsequently attacked by Beowulf without a weapon, yet his powerful strikes hardly hurt it. He now notices a massive sword swinging from the cavern’s wall. Beowulf grabs the enormous sword that the giants had crafted and strikes it at the creature. The mother of Grendel loses her life when the sword rips her head.

During the further exploration of the cave, Beowulf discovers Grendel’s dead body. The monster’s boiling blood causes his sword to melt as he chops off the corpse’s head to present to King Hrothgar, remaining only the handle. When blood is seen rising to the lake’s surface, King Hrothgar and his warriors depart, thinking that Beowulf has been murdered by the monster. Only a few of Beowulf’s comrades are still around and still have hope for their hero’s return. Beowulf soon makes his way out of the lake carrying Grendel’s decapitated head and the melted sword’s hilt. Grendel’s enormous head is mounted on a pole by Beowulf’s troops, who then return to King Hrothgar’s hall. 

Hrothgar, who was ecstatic to see Beowulf, bestows the hero with many gifts and praises him and his people for a great future. Following his return to Geatland, Beowulf establishes himself as the ruler of his people. News of a huge dragon guarding a priceless treasure beneath the earth and living underground spreads throughout the empire nearly fifty successful years after he defeated Grendel’s mother. A slave one day gains access to the dragon’s den and takes a golden goblet.

The poet of Beowulf says that the wealth was buried by an extinct race’s last survivor centuries ago as he wept over the tragic fate of his people and mourned his isolation. The treasure was then discovered by the dragon, who has since been keeping watch over it for three hundred years. For the first time in generations, the fire-breathing dragon departs from the treasure to track down the thief after learning that the goblet has been stolen. While doing so, it burns villages, destroys homes, and murders numerous people. A couple of nights later, the dragon invades Beowulf’s hall and destroys his throne room.

Beowulf, an old monarch by this point, ponders his life in the face of such tragedy and prays to God, asking if the dragon’s fire is the result of wrongdoing. Beowulf then instructs his blacksmith to create a powerful shield out of iron in the hopes that it will survive the intense heat of the dragon’s breath. Meanwhile, his men capture the thief and force him to lead them to the dragon’s den. Beowulf senses that he will die before the battle even begins. He tells his soldiers about his proud past, his time spent in many kings’ service, and his love for his people as a king. He then makes a vow to slaughter the dragon.

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Now the Dragon emerges from his cave and approaches Beowulf and his men, beginning a fierce battle. Using his sword Naegling, the hero strikes the dragon, but his waning energy is no match for the beast’s thick skin. Only one warrior, Wiglaf, remains by Beowulf as his army flees after realizing that the dragon is superior to their king in the fight. Beowulf hits the monster in the head, but his sword breaks this time. Beowulf’s neck receives a sharp bite from the dragon at this very instant, and blood immediately starts to pour. Wiglaf now helps Beowulf by stabbing the monster in the stomach. Wiglaf’s hand is burned as the dragon fixates on him. Beowulf gathers his composure, takes a knife out of his belt, and kills the dragon after stabbing the knife in his heart. 

Beowulf notices that the dragon’s bite was venomous when the cut on his neck begins to swell. In his final moments, he gives Wiglaf the order to enter the dragon’s den and return with some of the wealth he has freed for his people. Thereafter, Beowulf names Wiglaf as his heir and gives him the task of creating Beowulf’s barrow, a massive burial mound that will be built in his honor once his body is burned. Beowulf then offers Wiglaf the collar off his neck before passing away.

What I Mean…

Beowulf is one such story of bravery and valor which led a warrior to become a king after he showed his courage and skill in a fierce battle with a monster. He won both of the fiery battles and even proved to be a great king. However, his last battle led to his demise but we can say that even during his last moments, he left the world as a great warrior. 

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