© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.



by Unknown

Beowulf Good vs. Evil Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Line). We used Seamus Heaney's Beowulf: A New Verse Translation, published in 2000 by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.

Quote #1

In the end each clan on the outlying coasts
beyond the whale-road had to yield to him
and began to pay tribute. That was one good king. (9-11)

The narrator of Beowulf is extremely clear about what a good king is like: he's strong enough to dominate all the surrounding tribes and demand tribute from them. It's our first clue that, even though Beowulf is all about good versus evil, the definition of "good" may not be what we expect.

Quote #2

So times were pleasant for the people there
until finally one, a fiend out of hell,
began to work his evil in the world. (99-101)

Grendel isn't just the enemy – he's a personification, or maybe that should be monster-fication, of everything that is evil. He's literally a "fiend out of hell," a descendant of Cain, inherently rotten.

Quote #3

"I had a fixed purpose when I put to sea.
As I sat in the boat with my band of men,
I meant to perform to the uttermost
what your people wanted or perish in the attempt,
in the fiend's clutches. And I shall fulfill that purpose,
prove myself with a proud deed
or meet my death here in the mead-hall." (632-638)

It's all or nothing in this fight to the death: the good warrior Beowulf against the evil demon Grendel. Things can't get much more clear cut than that.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...