Literature Study GuidesBeowulfLines 1251 1904 Danger Returns Summary

Beowulf | Study Guide


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Lines 1251-1904 (Danger Returns)

Course Hero's video study guide provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Lines 1251-1904 (Danger Returns) in the epic poem Beowulf.

Beowulf | Lines 1251–1904 (Danger Returns) | Summary



After the long and ceremonial evening, Hrothgar and Beowulf leave Heorot Hall for a night's rest. Unfortunately, the battle isn't over: To avenge her son's death, Grendel's mother attacks stealthily and quietly, killing Aeschere, one of Hrothgar's closest advisers.

Beowulf is summoned and grandly proclaims the heroic code before leaving to hunt down the murderer. Unferth also gives Beowulf his sword. Beowulf prepares for battle and dives into the poisonous mere to finish the job he started. As he swims down to her cave, Grendel's mother spots him and pulls him into a great hall beneath the swamp. They battle; Beowulf swings his sword, but it has no effect.

Beowulf then sees a mighty sword meant for a giant on the wall. He tears it from the wall and strikes, beheading Grendel's mother. Danes and Geat men watch from above and see blood boil violently in the bog and again assume that Beowulf has met his match. The Danes leave, but the Geats await some sign from their hero.

Beowulf sees Grendel's body lying below and removes the beast's head in retaliation for all the men Grendel murdered. The blade of the sword melts away as it touches Grendel's poisonous blood, bringing an end to the danger that has haunted Heorot Hall.

Beowulf returns to Heorot Hall with the hilt of the sword and Grendel's head as trophies. Hrothgar is presented with the trophies, and in return Hrothgar gives more gifts and fatherly advice to his champion. Hrothgar declares Beowulf's worthiness to be king in his own land, and contrasts Beowulf to the evil Danish King Heremod. Another feast ensues, and then Beowulf and his men set sail for home.


By cultural norms, Grendel's mother has every right to seek revenge for her son's death. Feuds were common and expected when someone was killed. Many times the feuds would last for generations.

Women were also included in the feuds, although they weren't often the ones taking retribution. Because Grendel didn't play by the rules, we can assume Hrothgar and Beowulf didn't consider it fair for her to take revenge. Likewise, Grendel and his mother were descendants of Cain, so they weren't given the same regard as other citizens.

When Unferth generously offers Beowulf his sword to use in the combat, this leads the audience to believe Unferth no longer holds a grudge and respects Beowulf's strength and courage. Beowulf dives into the bubbling mere that is symbolic of Hell.

Unexpectedly, Grendel's dwelling is much like a hall aboveground showing that sometimes there isn't as great a difference between Heaven and Hell as one would expect. Beowulf swings at Grendel's mother with the sword Unferth gave him, but it is ineffective. He finds a supernatural sword that takes her head clean off.

The magical sword was meant to be used for good and to destroy evil; with its job complete, the blade melts. Considering them fitting tribute for the difficult trials his kingdom has endured, Beowulf brings the magical sword's hilt and the head of the monstrous Grendel to King Hrothgar. In relation to Grendel and his mother, these trophies illustrate the theme of death and defeat. Hrothgar is nearly overcome by the gift of the sword and the knowledge that Grendel and his mother can no longer terrorize his people. He speaks of Beowulf's heroism and growing fame, and warns that fame and power can turn a leader's head and cause him to become evil. As Hrothgar reflects on the fate of King Heremod, he passes on his wisdom to Beowulf. It is evident Hrothgar feels greatly indebted to Beowulf and doesn't want him to suffer the same fate as many kings and heroes who succumb to a fall. There are many biblical parables and references in Hrothgar's speech to Beowulf, again confirming that Christianity had made its way to the Danes and the Geats. Hrothgar finds Beowulf to be like a son and would have likely been inclined to name him as heir to his kingdom.

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