Grendel for one, is totally wild and is therefore shown as evil.
Hrothgar, king of the Danes, is one example of the Anglo-Saxon measurement of importance in Beowulf.
In Canto 1 the story teller describes his wealth and importance, not as mounds of gold or jewels, but instead as his ability to “ the Danes to such glory.” and as his tendency to “In battle, the common pasture untouched, and taking no lives.” Through this display of compassion for the commoner who doesn’t fight in battles, Hrothgar proves the full extent of his honor and therefore the extent of his wealth and status.
One example of this is in Canto 6 line 381 in which Hrothgar states, “Our Holy Father had sent as a sign of His grace, a mark of His favor, to help us defeat Grendel and end that terror.” This religious description shows Beowulf as a sort of messiah sent by god to save man from evil.
But, more than that, since Beowulf is in fact not a messiah, this description shows the good in Beowulf’s heart and the purpose of his mission.
Grendel it biblically described as evil in this excerpt: was spawned in that slime, Conceived by a pair of those monsters born Of Cain, murderous creatures banished By God, punished forever for the crime Of Abel’s death.
The Almighty drove Those demons out, and their exile was bitter, Shut away from men; they split Into a thousand forms of evil–spirits And feinds, goblins, monsters, giants, A brood forever opposing the Lord’s Will, and again and again defeated.It serves to give the reader an idea of why Grendel would kill the Danes for no reason other than their happiness.Beowulf also has a religious motif to his character.The Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf is the most important work of Old English literature, and is well deserved of the distinction.The epic tells the story of a hero, a Scandinavian prince named Beowulf, who rids the Danes of the monster Grendel, a descendent of Cain, and of his exploits fighting Grendel’s mother and a Dragon.This lack of wealth and honor defines Grendel as a symbol of evil and corruption.In addition to using Honor and wealth to define a character’s character, the story-tellers have incorporated alternating Biblical and Paganistic motifs in the epic-poem.Beowulf doesn’t fight evil in a wild manner, rather, as shown in his first battle with Grendel.First off, Beowulf is pure and shows this before his battle when he removes his armor and vows not to use a weapon to defeat Grendel.Throughout the epic, the Anglo-Saxon story teller uses many elements to build a certain depth to the characters.Just a few of the important character elements in Beowulf are Wealth & Honor, Biblical & Paganistic, and Man vs. Many of the characters in Beowulf are, like in most epics, defined by their status.