Beowulf’s Last Battle: Why Is It the Most Important?
Beowulf’s final battle is one against a fire-breathing dragon. This was the third monster Beowulf encountered, according to the epic poem Beowulf. This occurred 50 years after his first and second battles and was considered to be the most significant one. Continue reading to discover why the last battle was regarded as the poem’s highlight and most climactic part.
Beowulf’s Last Battle
Beowulf’s final battle is with a dragon, the third monster he encountered in the epic poem. It occurred long after Grendel’s mother had been defeated and peace had been restored to the land of the Danes. Bearing the gifts he received from Hrothgar, Beowulf returned to the land of his people, the Geats, where he was made king after his uncle Hygelac and his cousin named Heardred were killed in battle.
For 50 years, Beowulf ruled with peace and prosperity. Beowulf’s thanes, or the warriors who serve a monarch in exchange for land or treasure, were only called upon on rare occasions. However, one day, the calm and quiet was broken by an incident that awoke the dragon, which began terrorizing the village.
What Woke up the Dragon
One day, a thief disturbed a fire-breathing dragon that had been protecting a treasure for 300 years. A slave fleeing from his owner crept into a hole and discovered the dragon in its treasure tower. The slave’s greed overcame him, and he stole a jeweled cup.
The dragon, which has been diligently guarding his riches, awakens to find a cup missing. It emerges from the tower in search of the missing object. The dragon soars over Geatland, enraged, and sets fire to everything. The flames even consumed Beowulf’s great mead hall.
The Dragon and What It Represents
The dragon represents the destruction that awaits the Geats. The dragon utilizes its power to accumulate a massive pile of treasure, yet the treasure only serves to hasten the dragon’s death. It is viewed by Christian narrators as representative of the pagans who prioritize material wealth over heaven, thus suffering spiritual death as a result of their hunger for treasure.
In fact, Beowulf’s battle with the dragon is seen as a fitting climactic event for the death of Beowulf. Some readers take the dragon as a metaphor for death itself. It reminds the reader of Hrothgar’s warning to Beowulf that every warrior would meet an insurmountable foe at some point, even if it’s just old age, somehow preparing the reader to see the dragon.
In addition, the dragon in the epic poem is the oldest example of a standard European dragon in literature. It is referred to as “draca” and “wyrm,” which are terms used based on old English. The dragon is depicted as a nocturnal venomous creature that hoards treasures, seeks vengeance, and breathes fire.
The Reason Why Beowulf Fights the Dragon
Being the King of the Geats and a proud warrior, Beowulf understands that he must defeat the dragon and save his people. He will not just watch as his people are being attacked, even though he is well aware that he is not as strong as in his youth.
During this time, Beowulf is around 70 years old. He has aged 50 years since the legendary fight with Grendel and Grendel’s mother. Since then, Beowulf has been attending to a king’s duties rather than being a warrior. In addition, he has less faith in fate than he had when he was younger.
All of these reasons made him believe that this battle with the dragon would be his last. However, he felt that he was the only one who could stop the dragon. Nevertheless, instead of bringing an army, he took a small squad of 11 thanes to help him defeat the dragon.
Beowulf’s Battle With the Dragon
Beowulf is wary that the monster he is about to face is capable of breathing fire; therefore, he obtains a special iron shield. With the enslaved person as a guide, Beowulf and his small group of hand-picked thanes set out to rid Geatland of the dragon.
When they arrived at the cave’s edge, Beowulf told his thanes that this might be his final battle. Carrying his sword and special iron shield, Beowulf entered the dragon’s lair and instructed his thanes to wait for him. He then yells a challenge, which awakens the dragon.
In an instant, Beowulf is swathed in flames. His shield withstood the heat, but his sword melted as he tried to attack the dragon, leaving him defenseless. This is when his 11 thanes would have proven useful, but ten of them were terrified of the dragon and fled. Only Wiglaf remained to help his king.
The dragon charges once more, pelting Wiglaf and Beowulf with a wall of fire. Beowulf then managed to wound the dragon, but its tusk sliced him in the neck. Wiglaf was able to stab the dragon but ended up burning his hand in the process. Despite being injured, Beowulf managed to pull out a dagger and stabs the dragon in the flank.
The Ending of Beowulf’s Last Battle
With the dragon defeated, the battle is finally over. However, Beowulf did not emerge victorious as the wound in his neck started to burn due to the poison from the dragon’s tusk. This is when Beowulf realizes that his death is imminent. Beowulf named Wiglaf as his heir when he realized he was fatally wounded. He also told him to collect the dragon’s treasure and build a massive memorial mound for him to be remembered.
Wiglaf complies with Beowulf’s instructions. He was ritually burned on a large pyre, surrounded by the people of Geatland mourning Beowulf. They wept and feared that the Geats would be vulnerable to incursions from nearby tribes without Beowulf.
Significance of the Last Battle in Beowulf
The last battle is important in several ways. Even though the thanes fled in terror upon seeing the dragon, Beowulf still felt responsible for their safety, along with the safety of his people. This behavior gains a lot of respect and admiration.
The third battle is the most significant one because, in the third battle, the dragon caught Beowulf in the twilight of his valiant and glorious years. The dragon was a formidable foe. Despite the fact that he was left unarmed when his sword broke and his men abandoned him, Beowulf fought until his last breath.
Ultimately, good triumphs over evil, but death is inevitable. Beowulf’s death can be seen as parallel to that of the Anglo-Saxons. Throughout the poem, Beowulf’s battle reflects the Anglo-Saxon civilization. From childhood to adulthood, a warrior’s journey culminates in a final fight that ends in death.
Although in the first two battles, Beowulf entered into battle with Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the dragon. In these battles, Beowulf was in the prime of his youth. His strength and endurance were equal to that of his opponents.
Beowulf’s Last Battle Questions and Answers:
What Is the Name of the Last Monster that Beowulf Fights?
The dragon is called “draca” or “wyrm,” based on old English.
According to the epic poem Beowulf, Beowulf faced three monsters. The third and final battle was the most significant of the three. This happened at the end of Beowulf’s epic poem when he had returned to his people, the Geats. It occurred 50 years after he defeated Grendel and his mother, bringing peace to the Danes. Let’s review everything we’ve learned about Beowulf’s final battle.
- Beowulf’s final battle is with a dragon. This happened at a time when he was already the king of the Geats. He inherited the throne after his uncle and cousin were killed in a battle.
- The dragon awakens and starts terrorizing the Geats in search of a stolen item. Beowulf, who was roughly 70 years old at the time, felt he had to fight the dragon and protect his people.
- Beowulf prepared a special iron shield to protect him from the flames of the fire-breathing dragon. However, his sword melted, leaving him unarmed.
- Out of the eleven thanes that he brought with him, Wiglaf was the only one who remained to help his king. Together, they were able to kill the dragon, but Beowulf was mortally wounded.
- Before he died, Beowulf named Wiglaf as his heir and instructed him to gather the dragon’s riches and build him a memorial overlooking the sea.
Beowulf’s final battle was considered to be the most significant of the three battles that he fought, as it greatly illustrates the depth of the main character’s heroic act. It is regarded as a fitting conclusion to Beowulf’s glorious life as a warrior and hero.