What is the main conflict in the last battle of "Beowulf"?


Quick Answer

According to the text of the poem, the main conflict in the last battle of "Beowulf" is between Beowulf and the dragon. Aided by a young noble named Wiglaf, Beowulf fights a dragon that has been terrorizing the land of the Geats, over which Beowulf rules as king. Though he succeeds in defeating the monster, he dies himself, leaving his people in grief.

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Full Answer

As the text of "Beowulf" demonstrates, the final conflict in which the hero engages differs greatly from the first two conflicts. First of all, the first two battles have very different settings. They take place in Hrothgar's land when Beowulf is a young man. The last, however, takes place in Beowulf's own country, the land of the Geats, when Beowulf is an old king. The first two battles are with vaguely humanoid creatures, Grender and Grendel's mother, while the last is with a great dragon. Beowulf's first battles are solo affairs, but in the last battle, he is unable to defeat the dragon without the aid of his young helper, Wiglaf. Though he tried to take the great beast alone, he falters early in the encounter. Wiglaf, the only one of his men not to flee from the dragon in terror, sees Beowulf's need and rushes up to hack at the dragon, giving Beowulf the opportunity to continue his attack and conquer the creature. Finally, this last battle results in the hero's death. In some ways, the last battle is also a conflict between pride and old age, for Beowulf believes that he can defeat the dragon alone, but this pride results in his own demise.

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