Beowulf’s Promise Analysis Essay
The Poem Beowulf The poem Beowulf is based on a character that is well known for his exploits when it comes down to the act of war. In the poem, the Danes are faced with a predicament. They are constantly attacked by a monster named Grendel, and the attacks go on for nearly twelve years. The damage to the Danes can only be measured by the lives that are lost over the years until Beowulf, who is from another tribe, decides to come to their rescue. Known as a man of different talents, Beowulf is not afraid to talk of his might and conquests over the years. This makes him a welcome and pleasant guest among the Danes (Swanton 74). Even though he might be considered arrogant by his peers and even some of the older people, Beowulf never failed to achieve his goals. As he was being honored, Beowulf made some promises to the king and the people that he intended to keep. This paper will look at how he fulfilled some of the promises Beowulf made, and how they might have affected him later.
The first promise that Beowulf made to the Danish people and their king was that he would kill Grendel, or die at the hall in which they were holding the feast. The promise to protect and serve the people of another tribe or die trying meant that he had a strong resolve and immeasurable faith that he would be able to handle the danger that lay ahead. Upon proclaiming that he would kill Grendel, the Danes continued their celebrations in the hall that the king had built during his reign (Heorot), until everyone, except Beowulf and his men, retired for the night. The reader gets to see Beowulf honor his promise of killing Grendel when he ripped Grendel’s arm from his body, and let him run back to his lair to die (Swanton 96).
Later on in the poem, there is also proof of Beowulf fulfilling his promise to the Danish king. As the celebrations to mark the death of Grendel and the birth of a new hero continued, Grendel’s mother plots to seek vengeance for her offspring. In the night, she manages to grab one of the king’s most trusted counselors and runs off with him. Beowulf learns of this as he finds the king grieving for his trusted friend. It is here that Beowulf makes another promise to the king where he claims that he will find Grendel’s mother and kill her. In his words, Beowulf claims that there would be no sea or mountain that she could hide without him finding her (Swanton 121). Afterward, he kills Grendel’s mother by slicing her head and also cuts off Grendel’s head from his body.
In conclusion, by fulfilling these promises, Beowulf earned honor, respect, and admiration from both his people and the Danes. It is these exploits that enabled him to get half a kingdom upon his return home, and later on, become king of the Geats. He proves to be a great king till the time of his death as he battles with a dragon that had terrified his people. It was determined that the treasure that he fought for would not be given to anyone, and he was later buried with it. He is described as the most capable of all kings (Swanton 137). An alliance had been made between Beowulf and the Danish king, and it was an alliance that lasted even after the death of Beowulf.
Swanton, Michael. Beowulf: Revised Edition. Oxford Road, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1997. Print.