Why Does Beowulf Fight the Dragon?

Beowulf was too old for the battle with the dragon. He sensed his death was soon. But he was a king, and kings are responsible for their people. The dragon attacked their homes, so Beowulf had to eliminate it. Besides, in Anglo-Saxon culture, dying in a battle was considered the best way to finish one’s life.

Beowulf is an exemplary hero. That is why all his actions follow the heroic code. In general, the author uses his character to show other warriors how they should act in complicated situations.  

When the dragon appeared in the Geatland, Beowulf was already a wise old king. From our modern point of view, he should have ordered his warriors to fight the dragon. After all, he felt death was near. But we need to remember that medieval people thought in a different way. For an Anglo-Saxon warrior, even more so, for a king and a hero, death in a battle was desirable.  

The narrator says that Beowulf was a good king. Thus, the battle with the dragon was strong evidence for this statement. Beowulf slays the serpent and enters the legends of his people as a hero of high renown. By the way, fame was a critical category for him. During the last battle, Wiglaf says: “Go on, dear Beowulf, do everything you said you would when you were still young and vowed you would never let your name and fame be dimmed while you lived.” The best friend knows Beowulf’s biggest motivation and uses it to boost his morale. 

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