Pride Before the Fall
As far back as the Ancient Roman Empire, dominant civilizations have often grown comfortable as they accumulated wide spread power and control, which would eventually lead to their own demise. It is a frequent theme found in biblical stories as well. For example, the most beautiful angel, Lucifer, was thrown out of heaven when his pride led him to grasp at more power than he had. Even in modern tales such as the Tortoise and the Hare, the hare decided to rest because of his overconfidence. Through that arrogance, his overconfidence loses him the competition and he is ultimately stripped of his pride. It is a lesson restated frequently through history and literature and a lesson that the Anglo-Saxons weren’t shy to as well. In the epic Beowulf, the society is dealing with increasingly difficult challenges, leading to them beginning to overestimate their own power and security. The fights that the hero Beowulf face is examples of the recklessness of pride in society that eventually leads to its downfall.
Grendel himself has a huge pride issue. In the epic, Grendel’s arrogance in his own abilities when he attacks drives him to recklessness, which ultimately results in his own death. Before the monster even appears at the mead-hall, he already sees the night’s attack as a guaranteed victory. The pride that was overwhelming him negated any thoughts he might have had about a warrior who could defeat him. His vision blurred by pride, he underestimates Beowulf’s strength and abilities and finds that his own strength and abilities failed him when he thought that he couldn’t be beaten. His foolish pride does not allow him to remain a physically superior being compared to Beowulf because in all of Grendel’s battles none had been able to accomplish what Beowulf had. Stripped of his pride, he hopelessly flees only to die in his lair.
The same destructive evil that consumed Grendel curses his mother when she learns of his death. She...