HomeLiterature Study GuidesBeowulfLines 2510 2891 Beowulfs Final Battle Summary

Beowulf | Study Guide

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Lines 2510-2891 (Beowulf's Final Battle)

Course Hero's video study guide provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Lines 2510-2891 (Beowulf's Final Battle) in the epic poem Beowulf.

Beowulf | Lines 2510–2891 (Beowulf's Final Battle) | Summary

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Summary

Beowulf again tells of his victories and sings the praises of the warriors that he has taken with him. He tells the men to let him have this one last fight. Beowulf bravely enters the barrow and calls out to the dragon. The dragon shoots flames and runs to the entrance of the barrow. When the dragon exits the barrow, Beowulf tries his sword on the creature but with little success. All but one of Beowulf's handpicked warriors flee at the sight of the dragon.

Though burned and tired, Beowulf, continues to battle the beast. Wiglaf, in his first battle next to his king, gets by the flames to join Beowulf behind his shield. Wiglaf uses his ancestral sword to injure the dragon. It is Beowulf who, inspired by Wiglaf's reminder of Beowulf's fame and deeds, delivers the final blow with a knife in the dragon's abdomen, but not before the dragon fatally bites Beowulf's neck with his sharp fangs.

Beowulf lies dying while Wiglaf brings him water, and after Beowulf's request, enters the barrow and retrieves some of the treasure for Beowulf to behold. Beowulf is pleased he is able to leave a treasure for his people, and gives Wiglaf his battle gear while saying his final goodbye. Wiglaf is overcome with grief and lectures the soldiers who abandoned their king. He also predicts that once the news of their retreat and weakness reaches others, the enemy will attack.

Analysis

Previously, Beowulf seemed confident in his abilities to slay the dragon, but he has a change of heart. He is no less courageous, but he seems like much more of a realist—or perhaps has a supernatural foreboding. Again, Beowulf recounts his grand deeds, to reassure himself that his life has been one of courage and honor. Although death and defeat may be near, the speech motivates him for battle, and he tells his warriors to let him face the dragon alone.

Wiglaf's refusal to abandon Beowulf shows his loyalty in much the same way he described Beowulf's loyalty to Hrothgar.

Beowulf's gift of his armor to Wiglaf is a significant act. Handing down armor was very meaningful, as shown throughout Beowulf, which leads one to believe that Beowulf would entrust Wiglaf with the crown. However, because he has not made this a formal appointment, it is unlikely that Wiglaf will be made king. Beowulf succeeds in death much like he did in life. He built his reputation as a loyal and brave hero and dies in much the same way. He is even pleased at the end that he could leave his people with a treasure.

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