LINES 1,239 – 1,398 : A Mother’s Revenge
It was customary that the Mead Hall doubled as a dormitory when there were
large numbers of visitors to Heorot, so many of the Earls settled down for the night in the hall.
Seeking revenge, Grendel’s mother surfaced from the black waters and
approached the hall of the Danes. She was consumed by vengeance and she breaks open the door of the hall.
“She was all eager to be out of the place
now that she was discovered, and escape with her life.
She caught a man quickly, clutched him to herself,
one of the athelings and was away to the fen.”
Unknown to the ogress the man she had chosen was one of Hrothgar’s favorite
Beowulf is absent at the time of the attack, but when he returns, he pledges
to destroy Grendel’s mother.
There are clear direction lines regarding the principal characters in this passage.
Grendel’s mother is bent on revenge over the death of her son.
Hrothgar wishes to avenge the death of AEschere, his favorite retainer, and
Beowulf vows to be the instrument of Hrothgar’s revenge.
The audiences of this time liked their plots to be simple as it was not
always possible to project complex characterizations.
The poet also demonstrates the differences between Grendel and his mother.
Grendel had an air of confidence that stemmed from his belief that he was unstoppable. Grendel’s mother is more cunning in her approach, and she realizes that if her son could not face the Danes, then she certainly could not succeed, being smaller and not protected against human weapons. Her strategy, therefore, was a hit-and-run tactic.