Beowulf – Light vs. Dark Essay
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 thefirst 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 third example.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."Evil was defeated, and treasures were given in return.In this case, the death of Grendel is representative of darkness and the treasures Beowulf received is representative of light.
After Grendel's death, Grendel's mother seeks revenge against Beowulf for his actions.Beowulf dives into the lake, representative of the underworld, or hell.This symbolism of hell is one example of light and dark imagery in Beowulf.It's almost like a relig…