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Section 3

Unferth Taunts Beowulf

Ecglaf's son Unferth ("peace spoiler"), jealous of Beowulf's bold sea-journey, rebukes him by recounting the story of the swimming match with Breca, which (according to Unferth) Beowulf had lost. Breca and Beowulf had foolishly challenged each other to a swimming contest in the ocean, and braved the sea for seven nights, until Beowulf's strength gave way, and he was washed ashore the beach of the Battle Raemas. Breca won and went to the land of his people, the Brondings, where he governed fairly after. Given this story, Unferth says, Beowulf is unlikely to win against Grendel.

Beowulf accuses Unferth of being drunk and telling lies, and tells his own version of the story. Breca and Beowulf, taking swords to fight whales had sailed for five nights, till the waves parted them. The wind was freezing and the sea-fish fierce, but Beowulf's corselet protected him. Sea-beasts continually attacked him, dragging him to the ocean floor, but Beowulf killed them with his sword. Finally, at daybreak, he beheld land, and he believes that it was Fate that delivered him, as Fate helps those who are brave and whose time is not yet up. Thus after one of the worst battles, he landed at the home of the Finns. Beowulf says that he is not boasting and accuses Unferth in turn of not only having no brave deeds to recount, proof evident being that Grendel was still at large, but also of being guilty of committing fratricide, as he had killed his brothers. He declares that it is finally the Geats who will deliver the Danes of Grendel.

Beowulf's words are received with well-wishes and Hrothgar's queen, Wealhtheow greets everyone and offers mead to everyone. Finally she offers the cup to Beowulf, who receiving it, makes his formal boast to either deliver the Danish people of Grendel or die in the attempt.

Beowulf Slays Grendel

As darkness approaches, Hrothgar and his queen retire to their chambers, leaving the hall to be defended by the Geats. Beowulf removes his corselet, helmet and sword and reiterates his claim to fight Grendel hand-to-hand. He expresses his faith in God and in his belief that God will reward the one serving the right. The poet remarks that the men went to sleep without much hope for victory, yet God supported them and granted them victory, thus proving the providence of God.

As everyone goes to sleep except for Beowulf, Grendel breaks through the door and attacks and kills a sleeping thane. He reaches next to clasp Beowulf with his claw, but instead finds himself held in a grip, the strength of which he had not anticipated. Grendel's pride is finally humbled and all he wishes is to escape into the darkness. The Hall resounds and shakes with the fierce fighting but stands firm. The warriors stand armed in case Beowulf need their help, unaware that their swords would be of no avail, as Grendel had cast a spell over all swords, such that they were ineffective against him. Grendel's strength begins to fail him and his groans fill the hall. Finally Beowulf deals him a mortal blow on the shoulder, severing his arm, and Grendel flees to the marshes to die soon from his wound.

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Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Section 1
Section 2
Section 3
Section 4
Section 5
Section 6
Section 7
Section 8
Section 9
Section 10


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