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Published: 10-12-2019

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Beowulf: The Mere and the Mead-Hall

The description of the two different battle scenes wherein Beowulf slays the monsters are described in fantastic detail, and are both really various. Beowulf’s battle with Grendel occurs in the Danish king’s mead hall-a civilized and comfortable setting, even though the battle with Grendel’s mother requires location in a much wilder and a lot more dangerous locale. The two vastly different scenes are integral to a deeper understanding of the poem and as such, the poet takes pains to describe them to the reader in detail, whereas other, seemingly more essential specifics (such as the monsters and their battles with Beowulf) are far more rushed in their descriptions. The places in which the encounters take location are nearly as critical as the encounters themselves, because even though they do not really contribute to the action, they do provide noteworthy significance to the social and theological trends of the society described.

The scene in which Beowulf battles Grendel happens in a mead hall. The mead hall is created by guys for the use of men, and as such the penetration of such a location by a really inhuman monster seems even more affronting and his presence more perverse. The mead hall, or Heorot Hall, is erected by King Hrothgar for himself and his people and is described in its glory as, “a wonderful mead-hall meant to be a wonder of the planet forever it would be his throne-area and there he would dispense his God-offered goods to young and old…And soon it stood there, finished and ready, in complete view, the hall of halls. Heorot was the name he had settled on it, whose utterance was law. Nor did he renege, but doled out rings and torques at the table. The hall towered, its gables wide and higher and awaiting a barbarous burning” (Beowulf, lines 69-83). This description illustrates the hall’s greatness and the greatness of the man who dreamt of its possibility. It is a clear example of Hrothgar’s affluence and position in society, but also of his generosity. He built it for his personal pleasure, but with the gifts that Hrothgar provides out, it pleases his people as well.

The hall is man-made and represents an escape from the all-natural world and the creatures that inhabit it. In this way, the mead hall assumes a protective part in the minds of the individuals. More evidence to support this claim can be discovered in considering what a mead hall is purposed for-the imbibing of alcohol. In a period riddle describing a wine cup, the effect of alcohol on a man is described:

My dress is silver, shimmering gray,

Spun with a blaze of garnets. I craze

Most men: rash fools I run on a road

Of rage, and cage quiet determined men.

Why they adore me-lured from mind,

Stripped of strength-remains a riddle.

If they nevertheless praise my sinuous energy

When they raise high the dearest treasure,

The will uncover via reckless habit

Dark woe in the dregs of pleasure.

(Beowulf Longman Cultural Edition, pg. 171, Riddle 9)

This describes guys, through drinking, becoming crazed, lured from their minds, and stripped of their strength while engaging in reckless actions. The most well-liked location, indeed, the spot built for such actions, is the mead hall. It would be unwise for a man to let himself to suffer the effects of intoxicating spirits anywhere that he did not really feel safe in his protection.

The breaching of such a grand and secure place as Heorot by something as depraved and evil as Grendel was surprising and disheartening to the Danish individuals. He came at evening to the mead hall, bringing with him chaos and destruction. The Danes could not defeat him and quickly became desperate they “sometimes at pagan shrines…vowed offerings to idols, swore oaths that the killer of souls may well come to their help and save the people…that was their…heathenish hope…the Lord God…was unknown to them” (Beowulf, lines 176-183a). The poet of the story is fairly demonstrably Christian, and there is a clear allusion of sympathy and condescension towards the pagan Danes throughout the poem. It seems as even though the Danes are unable to help themselves because they are ignorant of Christianity in their prayers. When Beowulf (who is a Christian) arrives, Grendel is easily defeated, which is a testament to his heroism and strength, but may also be viewed as a lesson affirming the righteousness of Christianity among civilized individuals. The mead hall is a symbol of their civilization, and when Christianity is introduced to it, evil is rapidly driven out.

When Grendel’s mother decides to continue the murderous rampage that proved to be the undoing of her offspring, she returns to the newly restored mead hall. She attacks at night and after she has been located out and opposed she desires desperately to escape. This mirrors her son’s mindset when he is set upon by Beowulf. It seems that in these battles of excellent versus evil, the great side constantly seems to prevail.

The outcome of the fight amongst Grendel’s mother and Beowulf is a lot much less apparent than the fight amongst Beowulf and Grendel. The setting of the second fight may possibly have had an influence on the closeness of it, virtually like a “home field advantage”. The poet spends a huge amount of time describing the wild land that the monster lives in and the reader can really feel the emphasis of man and man-created objects slip away as the Geats delve deeper into the all-natural world:

“A few miles from here a frost-stiffened wood waits and keeps watch above a mere the overhanging bank is a maze of tree-roots mirrored in its surface. At night there, some thing uncanny happens: the water burns. And the mere bottom has never been sounded by the sons of guys. On its bank, the heather-stepper halts: the hart in flight from pursuing hounds will turn to face them rather than dive beneath its surface. That is a no very good spot. When winds blow up and stormy weather tends to make clouds scud and the skies weep, out of its depths a dirty surge is pitched towards the heavens.”

(Beowulf, lines 1362-1376a)

The monster’s mere is not man-produced, but it is also unnatural. It is a globe that occurs in nature, but it possesses eerie qualities that set it apart from the idyllic and grand view of nature that is described in Riddle 64:

I stretch beyond the bounds of middle-earth,

Shrink down smaller sized than a hand-worm,

Grow brighter than the moon, and run

Swifter than the sun. I cradle oceans,

Lakes, paths, green plains in my arms.

I dive down below Hell’s way and rise up

More than Heaven’s home, arced over angels.

I kind-fill all earth and ancient worlds,

Fields and sea-streams.

(Beowulf: Longman Cultural Edition, pg. 174, Riddle 64)

In the monster’s land, the waters burn and the woods “keep watch”. There is a distinct feeling of disorder felt in the monster’s realm. The tree roots recreate a tangled maze and this image is doubled by the water’s reflection. This imagery depicting disorder is in contrast to the ordered layout of the mead hall. The poet describes Grendel “pacing the length of the patterned floor with his loathsome tread”, hence offering readers with a juxtaposition of monster and man-made order (Beowulf, lines 725-six). Beowulf should go from order into chaos to make certain the continuity of that order for the future.

The atmosphere surrounding Beowulf as he stands on the lake’s edge in preparation for his plunge to meet Grendel’s mother is intimidating and as a result, his self-assurance falters a slight bit and doubts of his survival surface. He utters the words “if I must fall and endure death” proving to these present that such a believed had crossed his mind and in performing so been discovered plausible enough to draw comment (Beowulf, lines 1477-eight). In contrast, when he enters Heorot, a location that seems familiar to him as a man, and as he stands amongst other males, he is confident adequate to “renounce sword and the shelter of the broad shield, the heavy war-board: hand to hand is how it will be” in his fight with Grendel (Beowulf, lines 436-439).

Beowulf finds that in the lair of the monster, his sword, which had in no way failed him in the past, is unable to penetrate the monster’s hide. He is now in the identical circumstance in which he faced Grendel but alternatively of speedily winning a fight against an opponent who wishes only to escape, he finds this contest a lot far more daunting. When he faced Grendel in the mead hall, Grendel wanted to shake him off and run house to the mere. Beowulf fights Grendel’s mother in the mere and Beowulf is the a single who is out of his element.

As he is foreign to the wicked environment and has found that his blade will not break by means of the tough skin of Grendel’s mother, Beowulf is in a a lot a lot more vulnerable position. The poet asserts that “the son of Ecgtheow would have surely perished and the Geats lost their warrior under the wide earth” at this point in the poem (Beowulf, lines 1550-1551). Nevertheless, the fact that God was once again on the side of Christianity and these who practice it won the battle for Beowulf. Though he was in enemy territory and at a fantastic disadvantage, “it was straightforward for the Lord, the Ruler of Heaven to, redress the balance as soon as Beowulf got back up on his feet” (Beowulf, lines 1554-1556).

The selection of the poet to stage the battle between Beowulf and the two monsters in different locations enables the reader to see the emphasis that each place has in lives of the characters. The mead hall is a spot of comfort and revelry for the Danes. Grendel’s breach of that developing incited righteous anger and Grendel met a fast defeat in an effortless battle for Beowulf. Likewise, the eerie mere was a spot of comfort for the monsters. When Beowulf entered it he was on enemy ground and the battle was more of a struggle for him. The two places with each other are equivalent in that they lack the unification of Christian faith. The mead hall is suffering a demon that the people cannot deal with, but Beowulf who is a Christian can. The mere is a place devoid of any religion and is described as an unnatural and evil location. Beowulf represents an ideal Christian warrior pacifying the world of the pagan and opposing the world of the wicked.
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