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Barron's Booknotes-Beowulf-Free Chapter Summary Synopsis
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VERSE 10

Hrothgar and his warriors leave the hall, and Beowulf begins to prepare himself for his battle against Grendel. As the time grows near, the outcome of the battle is placed clearly in God's hands. It's God who sent Beowulf to Herot to protect the Danes, and it's God, as well, who will "...reward/Whom He chooses!" (687).

Beowulf removes his armor: his mailshirt, his helmet, his sword. He feels that he can easily kill the monster without the weapons-that Grendel, with his claws, teeth, and clumsy fists, is no match against his sword. Killing the monster isn't the only issue at stake in Beowulf's mind. The more risk involved, the more fame and glory he will receive if he succeeds. Possibly the monster, Beowulf exclaims, seeing a warrior with no weapons, will be so shocked that his heart will fail him! Beowulf's confidence in himself is so great that he's even capable of feeling sympathy for the monster. He wants the battle to be as fair as possible.


The other Geat warriors, assembled around him in their various beds, do not share Beowulf's boundless self-confidence. They fall asleep thinking of all the Danish warriors whom Grendel has already murdered, and wondering if they'll ever return home safely. The poet reassures his audience at this point by revealing the outcome:

But God's dread loom Was woven with defeat for the monster, good fortune For the Geats; help against Grendel was with them, And through the might of a single man They would win.

(696-99)

The juxtaposition of the lines, in this anticipatory verse, is essential to the tension of the narrative. Though God is on the side of the Geats, Grendel is still lurking outside; the battle is still to come. The poet gives reassurance without lessening the sense of danger. While the Geat warriors lie in their beds, tossing restlessly, thinking of the friends and homes they left behind, and as Beowulf lies wakeful, "eager to meet his enemy," the monster begins his walk in the darkness. Knowing the outcome of the battle doesn't make the scene any less terrifying.

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