As well as being a larger-than-life figure, Beowulf embodies the virtues and ideals of his culture making him an epic hero. In
Christopher Reeve once said “A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endures in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” In other words, a hero is a normal person who is able to be strong and persevere despite difficult obstacles preventing them. In the book, Beowulf, the the nephew of the king of the land of the geats, helps Hrothgar, another king, kill a series of monsters that threaten his kingdom. He helps Hrothgar kill Grendel, Grendel’s Mother, and The Firedrake. Beowulf is a hero because he is just an ordinary person who finds the strength to persevere and endure despite the overwhelming obstacles preventing him from doing so. Beowulf embodies Christopher Reeve’s definition of a hero because he defeated the flesh-eating Grendel, who could not be stopped even by groups of elite soldiers. Beowulf also killed Grendel’s mother, a much eviler being who lived in a cave in an endless pool of blood that led to hell. Finally, he defeated The Firedrake, who swelled up and breathed fire when angry.
He showed courage by risking his own life to help Hrothgar and the people of Herot by volunteering to fight Grendel. Beowulf states “That I alone, and with the help of my men, may purge all the evil from this hall” (pg.48). He also showed courage by fighting the dragon, even though he was getting too old, he still wanted to help and fight the dragon. He stated “I am old, now, but I will fight again, seek fame still, if the dragon hiding in his tower dares to face me” (pg.56-57). Beowulf exemplified having courage by putting down his weapons and armor in the battle between him and Grendel, he wanted to fight him equally considering Grendel had no weapons. He made it a battle of strength and he displayed courage by believing in himself and taking a risk in fighting against Grendel. Beowulf was very full of courage, which he proved by fighting in his battles and risking his life for the sake of others.
Humbleness was also key for an Anglo-Saxon hero as it proved respectability and honor towards the hero. Anglo-Saxons wanted their hero to prove their strength and courage, however, they did not want the hero to become a dictator of any kind. Strong friendships were known as the most trustable alliances an Anglo-Saxon hero could form for battles (Trekker2392). It was key for an Anglo-Saxon hero to have the ability to create strong friendships around him. Beowulf perfectly identifies to all five of these main characteristics throughout the epic poem.
Not only is Beowulf honorable and well respected, he is brave as well. His courage is shown by not hesitating to risk his own life to pursue the Dane’s enemies. By being self-assured, Beowulf is able to successfully defeat the fiends, Grendel and his infamous mother. At the time Beowulf is planning to pursue the vindictive dragon, the epic poem states, “I’ve never known fear, as a youth I fought in endless battles. I am old now, but I will fight again, seek fame still, If the dragon hiding in his tower dares to face me.”(ll. 2511-2515). He feels no fear, is confident in fighting the dragon alone, and has no qualms in risking his life to save others. He declares his bravery by saying, “When he comes to me I mean to stand, not run from his shooting flames, stand till fate decides which of us wins... No one else could do what I mean to, here, no man but me could hope to defeat this monster.”(ll. 2525-2534). In his actions, Beowulf’s bravery is clearly shown throughout the poem.
Beowulf is a hero, and we all know a hero when we see one. There are many traits and characteristics that make someone a hero. These traits and characteristics are more expressed in ancient epics and poems. Beowulf is one of the most famous ancient Anglo-Saxon poems still taught to this day in schools and colleges all over the world. The story starts off of how a man by the name of Beowulf receives news that a neighboring land is being terrorized by a monster named Grendel. Beowulf shows several characteristics of here such as, bravery, loyalty, generosity, friendship, and showing a high level of intellect. Beowulf first shows his heroic character through his bravery while journeying on his epic quest. There are several cases where he is not afraid, and instead of being frightened, he shows great bravery. An example of from the poem is, “Instead, they inspected omens and spurred his ambitions to go, whilst he moved about like the leader he was, enlisting men, the best he could find; with fourteen others the warrior boarded the boast as captain” (Beowulf 205-210). This quote gives proof of his bravery because he was the head of the group leading his men. Beowulf proves that even he himself must be brave in order to lead the bravest of men into battle.
Every epic hero possesses certain heroic characteristics. Beowulf, like other epic heroes, possesses the following heroic qualities: epic heroes are superhuman types of beings. They have a noble birth and show great bravery. They display great intelligence and resourcefulness. They have a reverence for G-d and for the values of their society. They are dominant male figures and suffer severe pain, but in the end, they conquer evil (Vivone 9/27/99). In addition to Beowulf’s heroic qualities, he is very strong. Beowulf was said to have “the strength of thirty [men] in his mighty handgrip” (Bloom 11). Early proof of Beowulf’s extraordinary strength is evidenced by his dismemberment of Grendel’s limb, the fight in the cave under water, and the
Beowulf exhibits many obvious heroic qualities, such as his strength and confidence in battle. These along with more subtle diplomatic actions serve to define him as both a great warrior and leader.
Beowulf’s last test of courage comes in his old age when his people are threatened by a “mighty” dragon. Beowulf felt as if something he had done had caused the irascible beast to wreck havoc on his people, “killing and destroying” them and their homes with its “molten” breath. Knowing what had to be done, Beowulf bravely faced the dragon, while all of his people, except for one, fled in fear. His last battle, which ended in death, displayed Beowulf’s unwavering courage, the type that every hero should possess.
Originating in the Anglo-Saxon period, the epic poem Beowulf portrays a legendary hero. Beowulf established the earlier form of heroism, and was then later introduced in to the English culture. Praised and admired by many people, Beowulf possesses several distinct traits that allow him to be defined perfectly as an ideal Anglo-Saxon hero; his eagerness to seek glory and fame, rather than richness and treasures, his loyalty and graceful attitude not only to his rulers but also to his followers, and his contradictory beliefs of faith and fate
Beowulf, was willing to help King Hrothgar defeat Grendel to earn the title of a hero. Beowulf kept insisting that he wants to join the battle with Grendel, by himself with his bear hands. “Yet the prince of the rings was too proud/to line up with a large army/against the sky-plague. He had scant regard/for the dragon as a threat, no dread at all/of its courage or strength, for he had kept going/often in the past, through perils and ordeals/of every sort, after he had purged/Hrothgar's hall, triumphed in Heorot/and beaten Grendel.” (172-174). In the medieval times, warriors were tough, brave men who are willing to go out and fight. But Beowulf is the only one that is completely unafraid of the dragon and is willing to go fight the monster alone. Other people would take an army to fight a monster, but Beowulf went on his own and fought not only Grendel, but also Grendel's mother. Since he did this at a young age, it is hard for people to live up to those ideals because a lot young people nowadays don’t even want to step out of the house. Bravely can be shown, not by fighting monsters, but it can also be shown with chivalry.
In Beowulf the classic epic, Beowulf, the hero of the epic, and other major characters reflect heroic ideals and beliefs of courage, generosity, unquestioning loyalty and devotion. Courage is most evident throughout Beowulf Beowulf does not back down from any challenge that stands in his way whether it be Grendel, Grendel’s mother, or the dragon. His bravery is most evident in his preparation for his fight with Grendel, Beowulf, “took off his shirt of armour, the helmet from his head, handed his embellished sword, best of irons to an attendant,…” He chose to bravely fight his foe, man to beast without weaponery for he knew it would be “cowardly” to defeat Grendel with a sword and armor when Grendel himself had none. Even in his
Beowulf, in the epic text, upholds true heroic values and acts accordingly. He stands by the code held up by the Anglo-Saxon culture. Therefore, all of his behaviors spoke to the fact that he was a true hero.
The Anglo-Saxon people were known in their time as fearless warriors. They yearned for battle as an opportunity to prove themselves. In the poem "Beowulf", this is shown to great effect. The entire work revolves around Beowulf’s quest to defeat a monster in battle, to show his strength. Beowulf brags about his feats in battle, saying “no man swims in the sea/ As I can, no strength is a match for mine” ( “Beowulf” lines 254-255). To the Anglo-Saxon warriors described in this poem, there was no higher honor than that of the battlefield. After winning the battle with Grendel “... Beowulf/ Had been granted new glory…” ( “Beowulf” lines 470-471). This idea was so prevalent in Anglo-Saxon ideas that it
In the epic poem Beowulf, the main character Beowulf is described as a warrior with unique qualities that sets him apart from any other warrior of his time. He took on a variety of heroic deeds to protect his people and gained great favor and trust. As a descendant of a king, the epic poem tells the story in true Anglo-Saxon form. Battle tales of Beowulf defeating giants, sea serpents, and monsters of all kinds ties into the Anglo-Saxon belief in heroism. However his generosity was shown as he typically shared his spoils of war with his people. Therefore, Beowulf was a heroic leader because he demonstrated loyalty, selflessness and pride as a leader among his people.