Beowulf Summary and Analysis of Lines 2538-2819


After giving his farewell speech, Beowulf turns, gives a mighty shout, and charges forward. The dragon hears the shout and answers with a stream of fire. Beowulf readies his sword and shield, swinging at the monster with all his might.

His companions, meanwhile, have all run away like cowards. Only one, a young thane named Wiglaf, has chosen to remain. Wiglaf didn't flee because he remembered all the gifts Beowulf had given his family. He tries to persuade his comrades to remember what they owe to their lord, but to no avail. Then Wiglaf charges forth, ready to help Beowulf.

The dragon heads toward Beowulf and Wiglaf. Wiglaf cowers behind Beowulf, but Beowulf swings three times. On the last try, Beowulf kills the dragon, but not before the dragon has given him a poisonous bite. After the dragon has been destroyed, Beowulf collapses.

Wiglaf tries to bathe his lord as Beowulf speaks. Beowulf wishes for an heir. Then he expresses joy at having lived as a good man. He orders Wiglaf to bring him the treasure, so he can see it before he dies. Wiglaf brings the shining gems before him, and Beowulf is in awe of the riches. He tells Wiglaf to build him a burial mound, so sailors may guide themselves by it. Finally, he chooses Wiglaf as his heir, since they are both Waegmundings. And with that, Beowulf dies.


The Beowulf-as-Christ theme continues in this section. Beowulf as the Christ figure is betrayed by his disciple-thanes, who flee in terror at the first sign of danger to themselves. One disciple (in the form of Wiglaf) stays, though he also betrays the lord by being unable and too afraid to fight. After three blows

The warrior code is still extant, although only a few members of the warrior class follow it. Wiglaf remains at Beowulf's side for much the same reason that Beowulf came to help Hrothgar so long ago‹the kindness of the lord caused his family to have land and influence, and he must stay to return the favor. Beowulf, of course, plays the role of a proper king here. He charges forth, thinking only of defeating the monster to save his kingdom. At his death, his thoughts are also only of his people. He wishes to be buried on land to serve as a guide to his sailors. His dying breath is saved for naming the most fitting heir to his people.

The dying warrior being comforted by his comrade becomes a common trope as well. The image of Wiglaf holding the dying Beowulf brings forth later images of King Arthur being comforted by Sir Bedivere in later works.