Prelude to Beowulf´s Last Fight
The Old English epic Beowulf depicts Anglo-Saxon warrior culture where fate (wyrd) governs the actions of the hero. Beowulf, now over seventy years old and king of the Geats, has earned his respect and glory on the battlefields as a great warrior. The honorable old king has ruled for fifty years, and according to the author, "he was a wise king, an old guardian of the land" (Norton, 55), when the dragon attacks Beowulf's Hall, assaulting Geats at night.
The dragon - "the worm" - as he is referred to sometimes by the poet, while guarding the treasure in the depth of his cave, is awakened by a slave who steals the ...view middle of the document...
The same mood can be felt in the final scenes of Beowulf that portray the king preparing to fight the dragon. Beowulf goes to the dragon's barrow with his men, but he fights alone and faces his enormous final challenge while the reader suspects that this battle is going to be the hero's last one: "The beginning was terrible to the folk on the land, as the ending was soon to be sore to their giver of treasure." (Norton, 57)
Nevertheless, the king of the Geats goes out to punish the worm. Being aware of the dragon's strength and knowing that a wooden shield is not going to protect him, Beowulf has a shield of steel made for him. He is ready to die, but he acts according to the heroic code: it is better to die on a battlefield than live in shame: "Thus he had survived every combat, every dangerous battle, every deed of courage, the son of the Ecgtheow, until that one day when he should fight with the worm" (Norton, 58).
Beowulf's speech before the battle reflects the ideas previously expressed in the ubi sunt passage in "The Wanderer" and The Last Survivor's Speech. He recalls past actions and wonders about the great times of battles and celebrations, but now "shall the sword's edge, the hand and hard blade, fight for the hoard."(Norton, 59)
Later, Beowulf does defeat the dragon after the long exhausting battle, but the hero...