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Beowulf Violence Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

He went in front with a few men, good judges of the lie of the land, and suddenly discovered the dismal wood, mountain trees growing out at an angle above grey stones: the bloodshot water surged underneath. It was a sore blow to all of the Danes, friends of the Shieldings, a hurt to each and every one of that noble company when they came upon Aeschere's head at the foot of the cliff. (1412-1421)

It's good enough for the most chilling horror movie: you're tracking the monster, you see a bloody lake around the corner of the cliff, and then your friend's severed head staring up at you. It certainly gives us the shivers.

Quote #2

So the Shieldings' hero, hard-pressed and enraged, took a firm hold of the hilt and swung the blade in an arc, a resolute blow that bit deep into her neck-bone and severed it entirely, toppling the doomed house of her flesh; she fell to the floor. The sword dripped blood, the swordsman was elated. (1563-1569)

Sometimes Beowulf does seem to take a bloodthirsty pleasure in his acts of violence, as in this scene, where he decapitates Grendel's mother. The parallel structure of the last line of this passage – "The sword dripped blood, the swordsman was elated" – implies a direct cause-and-effect relationship between the two, even though the poet doesn't explicitly say that one caused the other.

Quote #3

So the king of the Geats raised his hand and struck hard at the enamelled scales, but scarcely cut through: the blade flashed and slashed yet the blow was far less powerful than the hard-pressed king had need of at that moment. The mound-keeper went into a spasm and spouted deadly flames: when he felt the stroke, battle-fire billowed and spewed. (2575-2583)

Even the dragon's death-agonies are depicted in gruesome detail, as it thrashes and spasms in response to Beowulf's attacks. We think that as a film, if it were made exactly the way it's written, Beowulf would definitely get rated R for "intense scenes of fantasy violence."

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