Beowulf - Light vs. Dark

Length: 4 Pages 1081 Words

Traditionally, light means good and dark means evil. This assumption is proven in many instances of Beowulf, though in all three battles we also see contradictions to this assumption. Sometimes, what we see or assume may not always be just that. The light and dark imagery used in Beowulf helps to create this ambiguous theme and furthermore makes the contrasts between the battles more evident. In the Grendel episode, light and dark imagery are very evident. Before Beowulf arrives in the Danish kingdom he hears stories of the powerful Grendel and how he “never dared to touch king Hrothgar’s glorious throne.” This is the first instance where light and dark imagery collide. Grendel wouldn’t touch the throne because the throne represented glory, or light, and Grendel represented evil, or dark. The second occurrence is the actual attack of Grendel. “He moved quickly through the cloudy night…toward that gold-shining hall.” In this imagery we see an obvious light and dark conflict but we also see a good vs. evil conflict as well. Grendel comes to attack the mead hall at night, which reveals that the dark, or evil, is attacking the light, or good, in which case the good overcame the evil. We notice this in the thir Continue...


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This quote is another example of light and dark imagery in the Dragon episode. Beowulf entered the lake, the "brilliant light...of fiery flames constantly "burned all around him as he slain Gendel's "mighty mother and brought home Grendel's head as a "terrible trophy. The fall of nighttime was described by using a religious being, implying a bit of light embodied within the darkness. Though he does an evil deed, he is seen as a hero and a "good guy to the people. "Only Beowulf would risk his life in that lake...but Beowulf and fear were strangers. When morning came, "crowds surrounded to "behold the monster's great staggering tracks and watch as his great body was dropped "deep in murky darkness...as hell opened to receive him. Here we have the light image of fire though it's evil because of its location, being the underworld. Here, Beowulf approaches the darkness of the tower in which he must overcome in order to reach the light, which is the glory of defeat of the Dragon. Dark images prevail in the battle with Grendel and seem to be balanced in the second episode, with his mother, but in the third, light prevails; though it's negative. "That tower was heaped high with hidden treasure...and left in the darkness. Just another proof that some things aren't always as they seem. The Dragon waited "hours till the Almighty's candle went out, and evening came to attack out of "wild...anger. This is the second illustration of light and dark imagery. This symbolism of hell is one example of light and dark imagery in Beowulf. In Beowulf's battle with Grendel's mother, the light and dark images become more diverse.