characteristics of the dragon in beowulf
This depiction indicates the growing importance and stabilization of the modern concept of the dragon within European mythology. [2] Beowulf is the earliest surviving piece of Anglo-Saxon literature to feature a dragon, and it is possible that the poet had access to similar stories from Germanic legend. To begin, a epic hero shows he performs brave deeds. [20] In contrast with the previous battles, the fight with the dragon occurs in Beowulf's kingdom and ends in defeat, whereas Beowulf fought the other monsters victoriously in a land distant from his home. [16] Moreover, the dragon is more overtly destructive. [1] The scene is structured in thirds, ending with the deaths of the dragon and Beowulf. Beowulf performed his brave deeds in the story. Well that is exactly what Beowulf did. on the dragon and for the last time boasts about how he will seek battle and perform a Beowulf, the king of the Geats, fights the dragon. “ The hoard-guard waited restless until evening came; then the barrow-keeper was in rage: he would requite that precious drinking cup with vengeful fire. The audience sees how a hero’s development is influenced with each “monster” a he faces in the tale. For an example, in comparison of the first characteristic he battled against Brecca, Grendel and his mother, and The dragon. His imagined elegy foreshadows Beowulf's death and elegy to come. Beowulf and the dragon are destroyed by more than their protection of their Battle Between Good and Evil- The fights between Beowulf and Grendel, Grendel's Mother and the Dragon. In Beowulf's two earlier battles, Grendel and Grendel's mother are characterized as descendants of Cain: "[Grendel] had long lived in the land of monsters / since the creator cast them out / as the kindred of Cain"[15] and seem to be humanoid: in the poet's rendition they can be seen as giants, trolls, or monsters. This was one of Beowulf characteristics in the story. Beowulf and a troop of men leave to find the dragon's lair. What are important characteristics within Beowulf that make Beowulf an epic hero? The battle between Beowulf and the dragon depicts the strength of man against that of beast. It left Beowulf to do the seeking out". "My students can't get enough of your charts and their results have gone through the roof." The legend of the dragon-slayer already existed in Norse sagas such as the tale of Sigurd and Fafnir, and the Beowulf poet incorporates motifs and themes common to dragon-lore in the poem. In his death-speech, Beowulf nominates Wiglaf as his heir and asks for a monument to be built for him on the shoreline. [9], The Beowulf dragon is the earliest example in literature of the typical European dragon and first incidence of a fire-breathing dragon. Nitzsche, Jane C. "The Structural Unity of Beowulf: The Problem of Grendel's Mother". The final blow, which Beowulf scholar Alexander writes that the dragon fight likely signifies Beowulf's (and by extension, society's) battle against evil. [28] As king of his people, Beowulf defends them against the dragon, and when his thanes desert him, the poem shows the disintegration of a "heroic society" which "depends upon the honouring of mutual obligations between lord and thane". [4] Although the dragons of hagiography were less fierce than the dragon in Beowulf, similarities exist in the stories such as presenting the journey to the dragon's lair, cowering spectators, and the sending of messages relaying the outcome of the fight. Hrothgar prepares us to view the dragon in this way when he warns Beowulf that for every warrior an unbeatable foe lies in … When the angry dragon mercilessly burns the Geats' homes and lands, Beowulf decides to fight and kill the monster personally. Meanwhile, his kinsman Wiglaf scolds the other members of the troop for not going in to help, before coming to Beowulf's aid. Beowulf’s personal characteristics include the heroic traits of loyalty, honor, bravery, faith, and superhuman strength. However, the dragon also symbolizes the specific fate that lies in wait for the Geats, and for pagan society generally. [24] Before he faces the dragon, Beowulf thinks of his past: his childhood and wars the Geats endured during that period, foreshadowing the future. [10] The Beowulf dragon is described with Old English terms such as draca (dragon), and wyrm (reptile, or serpent), and as a creature with a venomous bite. Also, the Beowulf poet created a dragon with specific traits: a nocturnal, treasure-hoarding, inquisitive, vengeful, fire-breathing creature. These were all examples of Beowulf risking death for glory. Furthermore, an epic hero risk death for glory or for the greater of society. When the dragon wounds Beowulf fatally, Wiglaf slays it. According to ancient medieval folklore, dragons are known for their superior strength They're like having in-class notes for every discussion!”, “This is absolutely THE best teacher resource I have ever purchased. [46] J. R. R. Tolkien used the dragon story of Beowulf as a template for Smaug of The Hobbit; in each case, the dragon awakens upon the hoard being disturbed by one stealing a chalice and goes into a wrathful rampage until slain by another person. [14] The characteristics of Beowulf's dragon appear to be specific to the poem, and the poet may have melded together dragon motifs to create a dragon with specific traits that weave together the complicated plot of the narrative. LitCharts Teacher Editions. Standing up to The dragon was definitely a brave deed Beowulf did because his men left him and he still attempted to battle. Both ultimately die because of their pride. After a thief steals from the dragon's horde, the dragon goes on a rampage and terrorizes the Geats. Instant downloads of all 1372 LitChart PDFs [41], Peter Gainsford noted in the article "The Deaths of Beowulf and Odysseus: Narrative Time and Mythological Tale Types" that "In the twenty-first century Beowulf does not lack for commentators to defend the literary merit of the dragon episode". decides to avenge itself on the local villagers and Beowulf. [23] The dragon's hoard symbolizes the vestige of an older society, now lost to wars and famine, left behind by a survivor of that period. [39] W. P. Ker criticized the inclusion of Beowulf's fight with the dragon and his subsequent death in the poem, writing "It is as if to the end of the Odyssey there had been added some later books telling in full of the old age of Odysseus, far from the sea, and his death at the hands of Telegonus". The dragon’s reaction is to get revenge. [34] Ultimately, as Tolkien writes in Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics (1936), the death by dragon "is the right end for Beowulf," for he claims, "a man can but die upon his death-day". Although many motifs common to the Beowulf dragon existed in the Scandinavian and Germanic literature, the Beowulf poet was the first to combine features and present a distinctive fire-breathing dragon. He is a classic epic hero. [17][18], Beowulf's fight with the dragon has been described variously as an act of either altruism[19] or recklessness. homes. As king, he has an obligation that is different from the one he had as a warrior. “(Beowulf 62) The story of Beowulf is one of Europes greatest epic poems. In northern literature there are only two that are significant ... we have but the dragon of the Völsungs, Fáfnir, and Beowulf's bane. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy. There and Back Again a Comparison of the Hobbit and Beowulf, Free online plagiarism checker with percentage. The dragon fight is foreshadowed with earlier events: Scyld Shefing's funeral and Sigmund's death by dragon, as recounted by a bard in Hrothgar's hall. SparkNotes is brought to you by Barnes & Noble. The dragon is so well suited to bring about Beowulf’s downfall, in fact, that some readers have seen it as a symbolic representation of death itself: the unique, personal end that awaits every person. [5], The dragon with his hoard is a common motif in early Germanic literature with the story existing to varying extents in the Norse sagas, but it is most notable in the Völsunga saga and in Beowulf. What are some of the characteristics of the dragon that are typical of what readers expect of dragons? After a thief steals from the dragon's horde, the dragon goes on a rampage and terrorizes the Geats. As can be seen from in this episode, as Beowulf's actions and attitude as a warrior during battle have gained him respect and affection of others. Possibly the poem’s Christian narrator sees greed for treasure as a kind of spiritual death, suffered by pagans who value treasure over Heaven. [10] Job's dragon would have been accessible to the author of Beowulf, as a Christian symbol of evil, the "great monstrous adversary of God, man and beast alike. The treasure also brings about Beowulf’s death. of respect. The dragon which was fighting with Beowulf Asked … Struggling with distance learning? Characteristics of Beowulf 901 words 4 page(s) Beowulf, written in the medieval time period by an unknown author, is an epic tale of heroes and dragons, victory … The cup was quite important With Beowulf doing these things he was showing the characteristics of an epic hero. The creature attacks the neighboring towns in revenge. escapes with one of the dragon’s cups. [25] An embattled society without "social cohesion" is represented by the avarice of the "dragon jealously guarding its gold hoard",[26] and the elegy for Beowulf becomes an elegy for the entire culture. [36] Conversely, Kemp Malone writes in "The Kenning in Beowulf" that Beowulf's fight with the dragon receives much critical attention, but that commentators fail to note that "the dragon was no fighter. [35], In 1918, William Witherle Lawrence argued in his article "The Dragon and His Lair in Beowulf" that the fight between Beowulf and the dragon tends to receive less critical attention than other portions of the poem, commenting that "Grendel and his dam have, as it were, become more beloved of the commentators". Beowulf also battled Grendel’s mother and stood up to The dragon. Detailed explanations, analysis, and citation info for every important quote on LitCharts. “The king himself then still controlled his senses, drew the battle-knife, biting and [12], The third act of the poem differs from the first two. The dragon is a mighty and glamorous opponent, an appropriate match for Beowulf. -Graham S. The timeline below shows where the character Dragon appears in, ...king for fifty years. "[45], In From Homer to Harry Potter: A Handbook on Myth and Fantasy, Matthew Dickerson and David O'Hara argue that the Beowulf poet added the figure of the dragon to "the pot...that is ladeled out of by most modern fantasy writers"; they argued that both numerous works with villainous dragons, as well as literature with benign dragons like the My Father's Dragon books and the Pern series by Anne McCaffrey, were influenced by Beowulf's dragon. The Hero-Beowulf goes on quests to save the Hall and his kingdom, and has the standard characteristics of a hero (courage, strength, and honor). The dragon is exceedingly greedy – marking a stark contrast to good kings, who create loyalty and love among their people and warriors through generosity. The dragon hoards his treasure in a “barrow,” that is, a grave. Moreover, he has a responsibility to serve as a good example for the Geats by showing them that they can not let fear or age hinder their efforts; they have an obligation not only to themselves but to their fellow countrymen. [47] Aia Hussein of the National Endowment for the Humanities has written that the fight between Harry Potter and the Hungarian Horntail in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000) by J. K. Rowling was influenced by the confrontation between the dragon and the title character in Beowulf.[48].


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