Grendel and the Dragon in Beowulf

Grendel and the Dragon in Beowulf In my youth I engaged in many wars (59), Beowulf boasts to his warriors, which is certainly true. Throughout his life, he faces many deadly foes, all of which he handily defeats, save one. His story focuses on the most challenging, as well as morally significant of foes, Grendel and the dragon. These creatures reveal much about society as well as Christian virtue at the time. Even after Grendel and the dragon are defeated physically, the two monsters pose a new threat to the hero on a higher plane. Beowulf is not only at risk of losing his life, but his humanity, virtue, and even spirituality. The first beast the hero faces is the wicked Grendel. At first he appears to be a demon, a hellish enemy (28). However, it is soon revealed that he is human, the kin of Cain (28). This is a crucial detail involving the lesson Beowulf will learn from this battle. The man-beast always strikes at night while his prey is fast asleep. He has no respect for the fight, preferring to attack the unwary and defenseless. On the night Grendel attacks Heorot with Beowulf lying in wait, Grendels most horrid of traits is learned: He suddenly seized a sleeping man, tore at him ravenously, bit into his bone-locks, drank the blood from his veins, swallowed huge morsels; quickly had he eaten all of the lifeless one, feet and hands (36). This utter disrespect that the supposed man shows for human life is a testament to his complete lack of humanity. Any such qualities have rotted inside of him, replaced by hatred. He delights in slaughter, killing not out of necessity or for God or country: His heart laughed: dreadful monster, he though that before the day came he would divide the life from the body of every one of them . . . (36). However, the truly frightening thought behind Grendel is not his bloodlust or cannibalism…

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