Good vs. Evil in Beowulf

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Beowulf, the Monster, and the Dragon: Good vs. Evil in Beowulf Jennifer Sylvers C09492972 ENG 211 Section E Dr. Healy Beowulf explores the struggle between evil and its direct opposite, good, in the culture of the 6th century Anglo-Saxons. This was a patriarchal warrior culture that valued generosity, loyalty, strength, courage, and reputation as signs of a good warrior or king. Beowulf is the epitome of good. He represents Jesus and the vibrant, joyful mead-halls are representative of heaven. The monsters and their shadowy and dark lairs in Beowulf represent evil; they represent the devil and hell. Beowulf’s first battle, with Grendel, shows a battle between good and pure evil. His final battle, with the dragon, is more than a battle between good and evil; the embodies the idea of wyrd, or fate. The battle is a sign that even though good has the advantage, good can never have an ultimate victory over evil. Through its powerful use of symbolism in Beowulf’s battles with Grendel and the dragon, Beowulf draws a clear distinction between good and evil, going on to show that the world is fated to a never-ending battle between good and evil. Throughout the poem, Beowulf matures from a good warrior to a good king. He follows comitatus; the relationship between the king and his thanes where the thanes are loyal and fight battles for their king, and in return, the king gifts them with winnings from the battle. A good king or warrior also pays wergild, the price a warrior pays to the family of a slain warrior. When Beowulf is first introduced in the poem, he is repaying a wergild that Hrothgar payed on his father, Ecgtheow’s, behalf. Beowulf possesses all of the qualities of a good warrior of this time period; he has a reputation for being strong and brave, and he is generous and loyal. He fights to avenge wrong doings, and he is better at it than anyone else. In this
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