Motivations in Beowulf

The story of Beowulf displays multiple motivations for the multiple characters. For example, adventure is Beowulf’s first motivation, but his drive later changes as situations change. Grendel kills for the sport, survival, and revenge for being outcast as a monster. Grendel’s mother is outraged after the death of her only son, as any mother would be.

Beowulf is summoned in the beginning of the story to kill Grendel who has been terrorizing king Hrothgar’s village. Beowulf, eager for adventure, quickly accepts the task and brings his men to kill the great monster. “Death is my errand and the fate they had earned. Now Grendel and I are called together, and I’ve come”(Beowulf 253-255).

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Beowulf’s motivation quickly turns to survival after he is siezed by Grendel’s mother. Beowulf knew true fear when his weapon failed him against the monster’s enchanted skin. He arrowly escaped death by finding an ancient sword that would penetrate the monster’s skin. At the end of the story, Beowulf’s motivation changes to that of pride. When a dragon begins attacking his villages, Beowulf feels that he must kill the dragon just as he did the other two monsters so many years ago. His followers warn him that he will be defeated, but he goes on anyway claiming that he must protect his kingdom. He is fatally wounded in the battle, but with the help of one of his men he is able defeat the dragon before he dies. This act led to a noble end for this brave character after dying for his people
“Grendel went up to Herot, wondering what the warriors would do in that hall when the drinking was done”(Beowulf 30-33). This indicates that Grendel longs to be accepted by society. He knows, however, that they would never accept a monster among men. This enrages Grendel and he storms in to slaughter thirty men. He carried the bodies home and fed on them. This act led to a string of murders that lasted for twelve years. He enjoyed the sport of killing the men until Beowulf came and put an end to Grendels reign of terror.
Grendel’s mother’s motivation to kill Beowulf is not so evil. She is enraged by the death of her only son, just as any mother would be. Grendel’s mother is evil by nature, however her motivations are just for going after Beowulf.

All of the characters have different motivations, but they all lead to the same outcome, death. All of the motivations are understandable, whether they lead to good or evil doing.