Beowulf Quotes – Explanation and Analysis

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“They stretched their beloved lord in his boat, laid out by the mast, amidships, the great ring-giver. Far-fetched treasures were piled on him, and precious gear.” (lines 34-37)

From the opening lines of the poem, here is evidence of the declarations of loyalty to the founder of the Danes. As they send him off to a burial at sea, they declare for all time the greatness of their founding king and his mythical origins. The generosity so important to the culture is celebrated even in death.

“In off the moors, down through the mist bands God-cursed Grendel came greedily loping. The bane of the race of men roamed forth, hunting for prey in the high hall.” (lines 710-13).

This early description of Grendel reveals him to be a figure of pure evil. He is cursed by God and hunts like a wild animal. Grendel is the polar opposite of the humanity held on such high esteem by the Danes and the Geats.

“Grendel’s mother, monstrous hell-bride, brooded on her wrongs. She had been forced down into fearful waters, the cold depths, after Cain had killed his father’s son, felled his own brother with a sword.” (lines 1258-63)

This description of Grendel’s mother. Not only do we see evidence of her evil, but the connection to the biblical Cain is made explicit here. The curse which attends Grendel and his mother is of the oldest and most pernicious.

“Your deeds are famous, so stay resolute, my lord, defend your life now with the whole of your strength. I shall stand by you.” (lines 2666-68)

Wiglaf speaks these lines to Beowulf and declares his loyalty to the great warrior king. This reveals the superior virtue of Wiglaf and clearly sets him up to be the likely heir to Beowulf.

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