Beowulf

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Summary
Analysis
As the ten Geatish warriors who ran away return, a grief-stricken Wiglaf attempts in vain to revive Beowulf. Wiglaf reprimands the warriors, calling them disloyal oath-breakers and unworthy of Beowulf's generosity. He predicts that now that Beowulf is gone and their shame becomes well-known, foreign nobles will come and seize their land. Wiglaf says "Death is better for a man than a life of blame."
Warriors who are disloyal become outcasts, as do their families. Their shame will follow them forever. It will also embolden their enemies, who will take it as a sign of weakness, dooming all the Geats to years of warfare.
Themes
Family and Tribe Theme Icon
Good Warriors and Good Kings Theme Icon
Fame, Pride, and Shame Theme Icon
Wiglaf sends a messenger to tell the Geats of Beowulf's death. The messenger proclaims Beowulf's death to the people, and foresees a bleak future for the Geats. He recounts the Geats' old feuds with the Frisians, Franks, and Swedes, and predicts that without Beowulf to protect them, those feuds will erupt again into war. The narrator notes that the messenger's predictions, for the most part, come true.
It is obvious to all the Geats that without Beowulf they are a people in dire trouble. This just furthers the sense that Beowulf's decision to fight the dragon was the decision of a proud warrior, not the decision of a good king.
Themes
Family and Tribe Theme Icon
Good Warriors and Good Kings Theme Icon
Fame, Pride, and Shame Theme Icon
Roused by the messenger, the Geats gather to view the body of their dead king. It has been laid down next to the corpse of the dragon and the ancient treasure. The golden hoard, which the narrator notes was once richly decorated, is now eaten by rust. The narrator adds that the treasure had been cursed with a spell that ensured that no man would touch it unless God grants it.
The treasure is decayed from its time away from society. Though the reference to God suggests Beowulf was chosen to win the treasure, its poor condition indicates that Beowulf's last gift to his people was not worth it.
Themes
Family and Tribe Theme Icon
Good Warriors and Good Kings Theme Icon
Fame, Pride, and Shame Theme Icon
Christianity and Paganism Theme Icon