Dragons and Beowulf: The Final Battle for Both
This artistic piece shows Beowulf and his battle against the dragon. I chose this part of the poem because it seemed to be the climax of the great tale. It shows Beowulf going up against a battle in which he knows he will die. Earlier in the poem Beowulf gives many speeches before he goes off to a battle, but the speech he gives at the beginning of the dragon battle seems different. It’s as if he knows that Fate and God are going to be against him. It’s as if he’s ready to test the comitatus between him and his men.
The first part of the painting is of the great dragon flying over Geatland. The wings of the flying dragon are the most frightening part of him. When a dragon flies over head, the wings cast long and deep shadows over the ground. The shadow seems to last for hours until the dragon flies on. The redness of the dragon’s wings signifies the power and terror they inflict on the Geats. When the shadows fall on the ground, the darkness counter acts the lighter color of the wings. The blood red wings are what make the dragon able to torment the geats and their land. On the very end of the wings are two spikes, or horns. In the epic poem of Beowulf, Beowulf is stabbed in the neck by the dragon’s tusks: “Watching for its chance it drove its tusks into Beowulf’s neck; he staggered, the blood came flooding forth, fell like acid rain” (2691). I see the tusks as spikes because other people think that horns are on the top of the head. The horns, tusks, or spikes are on the end of the wings. The dragon easily drove his spikes into Beowulf’s neck. The passage shows how quick and cunning the dragon is even though he is a huge and terrible creature.
The body of the dragon seems very easy to manipulate. After he sank his spikes into Beowulf’s neck, he was able to pull himself out of danger for a little while. Black, for me, is a foreboding color. With the body of the dragon being so huge and monstrous, it seemed that a great and powerful being should be the color of darkness. Besides the wings of the dragon, there is another part of the body that seems most important for the dragon: the hind legs. When a dragon takes off, it pushes hard with its hind legs to rocket itself into the air. The legs can also be used for ricocheting off of surfaces or making sharp turns. In the case of the coiled dragon, the legs are powerful enough to push him forward at a force that could knock a man unconscious: “The dragon coiled and uncoiled, its heart urging it into battle” (2560).
The most manipulative part of the dragon’s powerful body is its tail. In the picture, the dragon’s tail is long enough to wrap around the massive body at least once more. At the end of the reptilian tail is a deadly spike. Along the length of the tail is a fine row of sharp spikes. They run up all the way to the head. With the long tail, I was surprised that the dragon wasn’t able to get into Beowulf’s neck faster and with more ease. The last main part of the dragon is the head. The head has a lot of detail: the eyes, the teeth, the claws, the tongue, the horns, and the face in general. The eyes are the scariest part of the face with the cat-like slits, their yellow coloring, and the way that they seem to move with the painting. The teeth are the most ferocious part of any creature because of the pain and the damage they can inflict with the smallest puncture. The claws are useful for snatching people up and also for propelling the dragon forward as he leaps. The tongue is snake-like with it forking off in two directions. The crimson coloring of the tongue gives off evil. The line that follows the eye along the side of the face is also foreboding, but it sort of balances the head out the two flaps on the side of the head. The blackness of the head counteracts the yellow and red colors that dominant the rest of the face. Even though the dragon is evil and massive he, like everything else in the land, is balanced.
With evil must come good. One of the parts of the painting that shows good is the sky. The sky represents god and all things good by its coloring. The yellow in the sky shows the gold, that god gave to the warriors after all their long battles. Even though the sky has yellow in it too, the dragon’s eyes are also yellow, suggesting that the dragon is also, somehow, connected to god. The green shows the earth, our land and most precious treasure. The blue represents the sky and the air that supplies the Danes land with beautiful plants and animal life. The purple shows the peaceful part of the lands. The purple coloring of the sky blocks out all the fighting, killing, and evil. In general, the sky represents God and his gifts to the Danes and Geats.
On the right side of the painting is Beowulf. He’s coming through the rocks to where the dragon is hidden. The sky is behind showing that he is still being helped by God and the dragon is in front of him showing what he will have to do to rid of the evil. He is less important than the sky and God and of the dragon and evil. He’s smaller and less noticed it’s as if he is witnessing a fight between God the massive beast.
There is dragon script in between Beowulf and the dragon. It says, “Conquered and Defeated”. Beowulf defeats the dragon but he gets conquered in the beast’s massive claws: “I swear that nothing he ever did deserved an end like this, dying miserably and alone, butchered by this savage beast” (2656). The diamond signifies God’s light, grace, and his power over all we see. The bottom of the diamond is curved, showing that God’s light can reach in all directions. It only shines over Beowulf and the colorful sky, the good and pure part of the painting. Inside the diamond is an object that looks like curving lines overlapping one another. This design shows a comitatus through God and good. The comitatus is painted red to show the power and the binding influence that a friendship can have.
The battle between Beowulf and the dragon is one of the most significant parts in the poem Beowulf. Throughout the epic poem, good and evil are shown. At the end of the poem, good and evil are shown in multiple colors; black, yellow, red, purple, blue, and green. God was with Beowulf the whole time that he was fighting the dragon. God was also the one whom created the dragon that’s why Beowulf felt he had to fight; because God was against him, “He accused himself for breaking God’s law, of bringing the Almighty’s anger down on his people” (2329). He chose to go up against the dragon to show the comitatus between himself and his people. With the good and evil, light and dark, Beowulf fought the fiend that would end his life.
I would like to acknowledge Ms. Dodge for meeting with me and for helping me improve my writing skills. I would like to acknowledge my brother, who let me borrow his Drangonology book for the tracing.
Anderson, Wayne, Douglas Carrel, Helen Ward. Drangonology: The Complete Book of Dragons. United States: Templar Com., 2003.