Beowulf

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Beowulf Beowulf’s Funeral (Lines 3110–3182) Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Wiglaf speaks: he laments that no one was able to persuade Beowulf from attacking the dragon. Yet he also says that Beowulf followed his destiny, and won the gold as was his fate. Wiglaf then orders that wood be gathered for the funeral pyre. He and seven other thanes enter the dragon's barrow and remove the rest of the treasure, then push the dragon over the cliff into the sea. The gold is piled on a cart to be taken to Beowulf's barrow.
Wiglaf's comment that Beowulf was fated to gain the treasure seems to imply Beowulf's killing of the dragon is a triumph. But Wiglaf's lament that they couldn't stop Beowulf from fighting the dragon implies that Beowulf's fate was to make a bad decision as a king.
Themes
Good Warriors and Good Kings Theme Icon
Christianity and Paganism Theme Icon
Beowulf is laid on the pyre, and the fire is lit. The sound of flames mix with the weeping and cries of women frightened of the dark days that lie ahead for the Geats without their king.
Beowulf's funeral echoes Scyld Scefings. But Scyld founded the Danish dynasty, while Beowulf leaves the Geats in peril.
Themes
Family and Tribe Theme Icon
Good Warriors and Good Kings Theme Icon
Repetition and Change Theme Icon
Over Beowulf's remains the Geats build a huge mound, visible from the sea. In the mound they place treasure from the dragon's hoard "where it lies still, as useless to men as it was before."
Beowulf's last gift to his people is buried. It is "useless," suggesting his choice to fight the dragon doomed his people.
Themes
Family and Tribe Theme Icon
Good Warriors and Good Kings Theme Icon
Repetition and Change Theme Icon
Then twelve warriors circle the barrow, expressing their sorrow at Beowulf's death and praising him as a great king, "the mildest of men, and the kindest and gentlest to his people, most eager for fame."
Beowulf is remembered by his people not for his feats in battle, but for his kingly qualities. His fame is assured.
Themes
Family and Tribe Theme Icon
Good Warriors and Good Kings Theme Icon
Fame, Pride, and Shame Theme Icon
Repetition and Change Theme Icon
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