While finishing Beowulf, I had a lot of thoughts, which led to two questions I was wondering about other people’s opinions of their understanding.
TW: Sexual Assault, if this is something that would raise unwanted feelings in you please feel free to skip my questions
While annotating with Sara-Ann, we were noticing a few particular words that paint Beowulf in perhaps an even darker light. When the dragon’s rage is explained to the reader it states, “She slept, trusting in human frailty to keep her lair unmolested. That trust would turn to dust, like everything” (2321). This is not the last time the dragon’s lair is referred to as “molested”, which of course brings up terrible connotations.
My main question is as follows; Could there be a much darker connection to Grendel’s mother and the dragon than originally is there? My immediate answer is yes. We discussed in class the nature of the time period, as well as the fact that Hrothgar could be Grendel’s father. In my small group discussions, we talked about how even Grendel’s mother’s lair is described in a more sensual light; “she felt his presence in her realm, and knew a man from above was invading the below” (1497). Multiple times the dragon’s lair is referred to as “unmolested/molested” or being taken advantage of; “He robbed her of nothing else, just the cup – but. Up she rose, raging, grieving, though to cry out was to confess she’d been stripped while sleeping” (2215-2216). This also usually occurs with one man alone with the “creature”. I think there’s a disturbing possibility that can be talked about with this particular word choice.
Connecting to my previous question, I’m wondering what others are thinking about the battle with the dragon. Moreso than with the previous battles, the dragon is described as having more masculine traits; “a dragon ranged, unchecked. She was a scar-skinned warrior, long accustomed to shadow-soaring by moonlight, defending her claim, hoarding in her own high hall” (2211-2214). Is there a connection to Beowulf noticing the dragon is “a larger threat” and therefore describing her in words he’d describe himself, or is it a conscious change from Headley or any previous translator? I personally think it could be either, as the dragon, although dies, she is the one to bring Beowulf down. It would also follow in Beowulf’s lens of the world, as he tends to only look at anyone as his equal if he can potentially be bested.