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Symbolism in Beowulf


The mead hall of Hrothgar is much more than a place to live, eat, and sleep. The expanse and safety of the mead-hall represent the power and wisdom of the king. That the Danes are able to find a place of solace and comfort under the roof of Hrothgar’s mead-hall is a symbol of the successful leadership of a great king. The mead-hall is also the place of counsel and government. The mead-hall is a symbolic extension of Hrothgar’s powerful and benevolent rule over the Danes and his mastery of the world around them.

The Cave, or lair of Grendel’s Mother

As the counter-symbol to the mead-hall, the cave is a symbol of the chaos and untamed nature that threatens the civilization of the Danes. It is cold, wet and in every way forbidding. As Hrothgar’s mead-hall is the symbol of civilization, the cave is the symbol of a threatening and hostile nature.

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