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MonkeyNotes Study Guide Summary-Beowulf by Anonymous-Free Book Notes
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THEMES

Major Theme

The major theme of the narrative poem is the triumph of goodness over evil. Beowulf, the epic hero of the tale, stands for all that is good, brave and proper, while the monsters stand for evil. During the course of the poem, Beowulf manages to fatally wound Grendel, kill Grendel's mother and slay the dragon. Unfortunately, Beowulf is also killed by the dragon, but not before he has conquered the evil monsters.


Minor Theme

The minor theme of the poem centers on loyalty. Beowulf stands apart from other men because of his extraordinary loyalty to his king or lord. He rushes to help Hrothgar each time he needs him, conquering Grendel and his mother. Beowulf has no ulterior motives, for he has no desire for the Danish throne; he simply wants to help Hrothgar and do what is right. Unfortunately, Beowulf's men do not possess the same degree of loyalty towards him. When he is in danger, his men often flee, as seen at the dragon's lair. Because of their lack of loyalty, they are damned and castigated. Loyalty was one of the most important qualities a man could possess in Beowulf's time, and its presence in a person elevated him from ordinary to heroic.

MOOD

The mood of the entire saga is triumphant, as Beowulf goes about conquering evil. The action is always exciting, positive, and upbeat. Even when Beowulf is wounded and dies, the mood remains triumphant, for he has overcome evil, slaying the dragon.

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