Beowulf

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Beowulf Beowulf and Wiglaf (Lines 2711–2845) Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Beowulf sits near the wall of the cave as Wiglaf washes his wound. Beowulf tells Wiglaf that he knows he is dying and that he wishes he had a son to leave his armor to, an heir to follow after him. He takes stock of his life: he ruled for fifty years, no enemy dared confront him, he never sought feuds, and never made improper oaths, or killed kinsman.
In his last moments, Beowulf focuses more on his good qualities as a king than as a warrior. Yet one responsibility of a king is a stable succession. Since he had no son, it was foolish for Beowulf to risk his life.
Themes
Family and Tribe Theme Icon
Good Warriors and Good Kings Theme Icon
Beowulf asks Wiglaf to bring him the treasure so that he can die knowing that he won it. Wiglaf enters the barrow, and sees the fabulous gold and jewels, rich cups, arm rings, helmets "with none to polish them," all lying in heaps.
The treasure hoard, without a people to use and "polish" it, is useless. It is only as a means of creating bonds in society that treasure has value.
Themes
Family and Tribe Theme Icon
Wiglaf gathers some of the treasure and returns to Beowulf, who thanks God that he could win such treasures for his people before he dies. He tells Wiglaf to look after the Geats when he is gone. Beowulf then asks that a barrow be built on a cliff overlooking the sea that sea travelers will later call Beowulf's barrow. He gives Wiglaf the gold necklace he wears and his armor, and dies.
Beowulf describes the treasure as his final gift to his people, and passes on his kingship to Wiglaf, who is clearly the most deserving and competent of the Geats. Beowulf also takes pains to protect his fame even in death through the creation of his barrow.
Themes
Family and Tribe Theme Icon
Good Warriors and Good Kings Theme Icon
Fame, Pride, and Shame Theme Icon