Sample Argumentative Essay on Beowulf: Good Vs Evil

Beowulf is an epic piece of poetry that was composed probably at the end of the first millennium. It has been recognized and for the longest has been known to be the oldest piece of English Literature known. It was originally written in olden times English, and the story unfolds telling of terrible monsters as well as magnificent heroic beings openly demonstrating the struggle between good and evil. Beowulf is timeless and has followed the style of its season, with an intention to be read audibly as well as being one of the few stories successfully written in that form. Due to the period of time, the story was narrated, it thus carries in it several distinct worldviews (Liuzza, 2013).

In this epic masterpiece, we can find some of the common and notable ideas as are found in the Christian faith as well as values that can be traced in traits of Germanic warriors back in the Teutonic traditions. Every single character in Beowulf is critical and important in both views. Poetry in the Anglo-Saxon era gives the reader a clear picture of the values and belief systems that were upheld in the society at that specific time which can be clearly seen through the main characters in the piece of art.



Good can never exist on its own because evil is a mirror that defines it from a different viewpoint.



In Beowulf, good and evil have been well defined. In this piece, Beowulf embodies himself all the good, even though it’s been expressed through his extraordinary and supernatural powers. All the monsters seen here inclusive of the dragon, Grendel’s mother and Grendel are all an embodiment of evil. On Beowulf’s fighting and overcoming them, he is not only working to save the victims of the monster but the whole human race as well.

One vital and most notable thing about the hero of Beowulf is that he never got to fight any man anywhere in the poem. All the conflicts happening between men never involved him. He may have argued with humans such as Unferth before fighting Grendel, but he has been seen to fight monsters only (“AFTERWORD: THE EXCELLENCE OF BEOWULF,” 2001). This paints a clear picture of him as a defender of mankind. Which is the good of him. Most of the humans in Beowulf haven’t been seen as completely evil or good. It’s only Wiglaf and Beowulf who get that clear description. It’s also the same two characters that appear self-sacrificing and ready to offer themselves to save humans without minding about their safety.

If we could view Beowulf as the good force in this piece, then Grendel is the evil here. Grendel has got a description as Cain’s descendant who was the son of Adam and Eve and who happened to murder his younger brother Abel. Due to the crime Cain committed, he was cast away from God’s presence and denied the company of all the good (McNamara & Stade, 2007). The descendants of Cain, as per this piece were the spring of all the evil. Grendel happens to be a descendant of Cain. Throughout this poem, one of the greatest enemy to mankind is Grendel who has been seen to attack with malice and jealousy that humans can enjoy life in the light while he lives miserably in the darkness which is his judgement.

What makes Grendel evil is not only his ancestry; his actions are malicious and dangerous too. He is seen to kill warriors in their sleep after breaking into Herot. He also snatches and eats up people after creeping through the moors. Grendel never fights an honorable war, until he meets Beowulf. All of Grendel’s actions are open evils (Liuzza, 2013). After Grendel is confronted by an honorable fighter, Beowulf he discovers that he never makes use of any single weapon but he fights him honorably and barehanded. Grendel who is never used to fighting such wars suffers defeat from Beowulf. He later escapes bleeding instead of continuing with the fight to the end.


Works Cited


Liuzza, R M. Beowulf. 2013.

McNamara, John, and George Stade. Beowulf. Barnes & Noble Classics, 2007.