What Is the Central Conflict in "Beowulf?"

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“Beowulf,” a narrative poem set in Denmark and southern Sweden, or Geatland, is an elegy as well as a smaller version of a heroic epic. Widely considered a piece of Old English literature, it is a story filled with action and adventure. Scholars believe monks in England wrote the only surviving manuscript between around 1,000 A.D., perhaps Christianizing a much older tale.

Central Conflict

“Beowulf” boasts three conflicts, according to SparkNotes. Grendel the dragon starts off the first of three central conflicts in the story by taking over Heorot Hall. Beowulf defeats him, which triggers the second conflict: Grendel’s mother taking revenge by murdering a member of Beowulf's community. The final conflict unfolds as Grendel’s mother and Beowulf enter into an epic struggle when someone steals her treasure. The main conflict present throughout the three parts of “Beowulf” involves the friction between communities of warriors and outside threats.


About the Author

Leyla Norman has been a writer since 2008 and is a certified English as a second language teacher. She also has a master's degree in development studies and a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology.

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