18 Aug 2022


The analysis of chapter 23 of poem "Beowulf"

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Running Head: BEOWULF 1 

Beowulf Chapter 23: Fight with Grendel’s Mother 

The contexts that mark the beginning of Beowulf’s second fight have him courageous and unafraid of death. Beowulf has his armour on and picks up his weapons. One of Beowulf’s compatriots, Unferth lent him a sword that never to fail and was passed down their family as a sign of wishing him well. Chapter 23 begins with Beowulf bidding Hrothgar farewell. In his farewell message, Beowulf asks Hrothgar to take care of his compatriots while he is in battle. One of his requests is that he should send the treasure that Beowulf won and was sent to him in Hygelac by the Geatmen, to his fellows in case he dies in the fight against Grendel’s mother. 

At this point of the story, there is a unity of thought among the characters of the story against a common monster. Even Unferth is no longer jealous of Beowulf and instead shows him support. After exchanging his sword for Unferth’s, Beowulf plunges into the water to fight Grendel’s mom. According to the poem, Beowulf also mentions best wishes for Hrothgar, telling him that he would like his king to know that he was a generous lord through his gifts of jewelry. Within the first stanza, we also learn that Beowulf was quick to his mission to battle Grendel’s mother. Beowulf’s courage is rather virtuous and may have been the reason behind his luck in seeing the giant sword and killing Grendel’s mother when he is least expected to win. Chapter 23, therefore, suggests an established hero going further on a mission that will probably end his life but he keeps confident in his past successes or rather simply on his courage and fighting skill. 

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There is a show of the monstrosity of Grendel’s mother especially for her dwelling which is separated from the rest of the society. Grendel’s mother lives in a lake that is in a cave, and the lake is full of hazards of all kinds, but Beowulf swims in altogether. Beowulf appears to be an extraordinarily strong warrior fighting sea monsters and serpents. Beowulf tries to attack Grendel with the sword from Unferth but is not able to do it. The poem explains in line 75 that the Beowulf had used the sword fighting sea monsters and serpents which might have made the sword ineffective at the time of the fight. In fact, the sword breaks but Beowulf remains determined to kill the monster and decide to meet her blow for blow. The battle is quite fierce, and Beowulf uses his bare hands to hold the monster by the shoulder pulling her to the floor of the cave. However, the monster gained on Beowulf and tried to stab him, but his mail shirt protects him. As the chapter ends the author foreshadows that Beowulf would win against the monster and also recaptures that he had journeyed fatally to the bottom of the sea for a glorious, or rather a God-given victory. 

This fight would continue in Chapter 24 when Beowulf can kill Grendel’s mother. Beowulf notices that on the cave floor where he had thrown his sword and other armours lay was a sword that was carved by giants. However, Beowulf in his strength was able to handle the sword, and he was grabbed the sword to kill Grendel’s mother. He can strike Grendel’s mom by cutting off her head. At her death, the cave becomes full of light as foreshadowed in the previous chapter. Beowulf can kill Grendel also and carries her head to the shore. The shining of light after the death of the monster could have been a sign from God since Beowulf’s win is perceived as an act of Go. However the true meaning of the shining light is not explained in the poem. At the cliff over the lake, Hrothgar and the Danes have given up after seeing blood coming out of the lake. However, the Geatmen wait and Beowulf emerges with the head of Grendel to their joy. His strength is showcased in the next chapter which claims Grendel’s head to be so heavy that it required five people to carry. In a long journey, it takes him almost a day to get to where Grendel’s mother was and as soon as he reaches she attacks him and captures him in her cave which is protected from the water. 

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 19). The analysis of chapter 23 of poem "Beowulf" .


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