The universal theme of Beowulf is mortality. I believe that encompasses all the other theme that Beowulf also has.
Beowulf is a poem that is in Old English that is set in Scandinavia. The poem talks about the warrior Beowulf, hero of Geats, who conquered the monsters that attack the kingdom of Danes. There are three (3) battles in the poem that follows the life of Beowulf also: the battle against Grendel, against mother of Grendel and the dragon.
Beowulf is a hero from Geats who come to the rescue to the kingdom of Danes to kill Grendel. King Hrothgar was a warrior during his younger years but his old age can no longer fight Grendel to protect his own kingdom. Beowulf brought with him warriors to kill Grendel. His fighting skills killed Grendel. However, Grendel has a revengeful mother attached Heorot. Beowulf went to the cave of the mother of Grendel to kill her. Through Hrunting, the sword of Beowulf, he was able to kill the mother of Grendel. Because of the victorious battle of Beowulf against the monsters, he went home to Geatland where he became the King. Years and years, Beowulf, still the king of Geatland, grew old. One day a dragon attacked his kingdom. Courageous as he was in his younger years went into battle with the dragon. However, his age deteriorated his might to win a battle. He was wounded in the fight with the dragon and eventually died.
Mortality is the universal theme because in this story, Beowulf’s reputable courage and might is nothing when his body is already old. In the story it was noted that King Hrothgar can no longer fight Grendel just like his warrior reputation in his younger years. He needed help to fight Grendel. It means that a warrior is not a god who can fight any time. They also get old and get weak through the years, who like everybody else will die. On the other hand, Beowulf must have forgotten this. Despite the fact that he knows he has not fought during his reign in Geatland, still he fought with the dragon. It could be that: 1. He has no choice but to fight because nobody will help his kingdom and rather would die a hero; or 2. He arrogantly wanted to kill the dragon because that is his reputation.
Being a mortal also means strength and weakness. A mortal is as strong when there is courage, combined with skills to fight any battle. But a mortal is also weak when there is no courage, or when the mortal gets old.
As a mortal, reputation is also important. Every mortal has to work on their reputation with battles won – in this story. Beowulf is not like any other mortal who just because famous because he has super powers. He is a mortal with great fighting skills that killed Grendel and his mother. The use of his sword is just as symbol for the many battles he won. Because of his reputation, which he worked so hard by winning, he became the king of Geatland. Beowulf became a legend to his last breath with his reputable courage to fight monsters.
Beowulf is about mortality. A mortal who has the strength to win battles and a weakness that led to his death. A mortal who left a good reputation to Kingdome of Danes and especially Geatland. He is a hero to many people for fighting monsters and serving the kingdom of Geatland.