Good and Evil in Beowulf







Beowulf is an epic poem composed more a thousand years ago, probably in the kingdom of Mercia. It is the first known important poetic work in Old English. The poem tells the story of the struggle between a brave hero and a terrifying monster.

According to Loren Cobb[1] Beowulf is both a fascinating picture of the early influence of Christianity on Norse and Saxon cultures: and also sharp social commentary, in its intent deeply subversive of elements at the core of its own ancient Saxon culture.

The main characters represent the good and the evil in a very simple form. Beowulf is a great hero and warrior. His king allows him to go help the king of Danes since Grendel began its attacks. Beowulf is brave and strongly desires to give his life for the good of others. The good in the poem is also represented by Wiglaf a brave follower of Beowulf.

The demon of the story Grendel, is a huge and terrifying monster full of all qualities that appeal to the classical evil character. He is angry, greedy, and needs revenge.


Beowulf and especially the battle between Grendel and Beowulf can be considered as an archetypal plot of good versus evil. The poem highlights the heroic role of the leader and is one of the first examples of leadership instruction in the history of literature. The poem proposes a heroic ideal which defines leaders by their ability to obey both the laws and the common norms of society. Beowulf receives much of his power by personifying the virtues from that time. He knows from a very early age that he is chosen to fight for the cause of good, and begins to develop his skills as a warrior since the beginning of his youth.

The contrast with the evil monster Grendel is obvious. Grendel is banished from a tribe of the kin of Cain (the fist murderer from the Bible).




1.   Cobb, L. (2000) Beowulf : A Poetic Weapon For Peace

2.   Dixon, V. (2008) Beowulf, Tupac, and the Talented Tenth


2010 .




Beowulf, epic poem, influence of Christianity, good versus evil, examples of leadership, common norms of society

[1] Cobb, L. (2000) Beowulf : A Poetic Weapon For Peace


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