By Elaine Strong Skill

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Extra info for Beowulf : notes

Example text

Soon the hall ran with blood, and the Danes returned home, taking Hildeburh and much of Finn's treasure with them.  As they did before Grendel's raids, they remain in the hall tonight to sleep.  That night, for the first time in more than twelve years, Hrothgar's men think that they can sleep without fear.  The angry she­monster turns and grabs Aeschere, one of Hrothgar's most trusted thanes; then she tears down Grendel's arm and flees toward the mere.  Once more, he appeals to Beowulf for help, and Beowulf readily promises to avenge Aeschere's death.

As they did before Grendel's raids, they remain in the hall tonight to sleep.  That night, for the first time in more than twelve years, Hrothgar's men think that they can sleep without fear.  The angry she­monster turns and grabs Aeschere, one of Hrothgar's most trusted thanes; then she tears down Grendel's arm and flees toward the mere.  Once more, he appeals to Beowulf for help, and Beowulf readily promises to avenge Aeschere's death.  No one knows the depth of the mere, but they know that fierce storms can provoke the waves until thick rains weep from heaven.

God allows Beowulf to avenge himself against the dragon and fight the good fight, but we must always remember a key idea of the heroic code: a hero must fight — even though he knows that he fights against fate.  He also faces a hostile world, leading a people who fail to recognize the necessity of a do­or­die loyalty to the code of their clan.  We can see only a bleak future for Wiglaf — a thane without a lord, a king without a stable kingdom, a man struggling valiantly against a hostile and ever­changing world.

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Beowulf : notes by Elaine Strong Skill
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