What Is the Difference Between Beowulf and Grendel?

In the Old English epic poem, Beowulf is the name of a heroic warrior from Scandinavia who journeys to Denmark to assist the king, and Grendel is the monster with which he does battle. After chronicling the struggle between Beowulf and Grendel, the poem goes on to tell the tale of the rest of Beowulf’s life.

In the kingdom of the Geats, in what is now Sweden, Beowulf hears of the plight of King Hrothgar, whose men Grendel is slaughtering. In the company of 14 warriors, Beowulf sails to Denmark and offers to face Grendel without weapons. When Grendel attacks Hrothgar’s mead-hall, Beowulf grabs the monster and struggles with him until he rips off Grendel’s shoulder and arm. Grendel flees to bleed to death in his lair in a swamp.

The next night, Grendel’s enraged mother attacks. Beowulf follows her and plunges into the fearsome swamp after her to do battle. He kills her with a sword he finds among the plunder in the lair.

Returning to Geatland, Beowulf presents the treasures he has earned to the king, and the king awards him with tracts of land. Eventually, upon the death of the king and his son, Beowulf becomes king. His final deed is to go up against a fearsome dragon that is terrorizing the land, but his sword fails to pierce the dragon’s armor. Beowulf is mortally wounded and appoints the kinsman who stood by him and killed the dragon as his heir.