Essay on Beowulf and the Hero's Journey

1073 WordsJan 21, 20125 Pages
Joseph Campbell’s term monomyth can be described as a hero’s journey. Many heroic characters follow the monomyth, no matter the time period or culture the literature was created in. The poem Beowulf is known to follow the adventure of the hero described in Campbell’s monomyth . The hero’s journey consists of three rites of passages: separation, initiation, and return. Beowulf endures each of these stages throughout the epic poem, so his journey does follow Campbell’s monomyth. The separation is the first stage a hero must go through in his or her journey. This stage consists of “a blunder -apparently the merest chance- reveals an unsuspected world, and the individual is drawn into a relationship with forces that are not rightly…show more content…
Beowulf is tested when Grendel’s mother retaliates to her son’s death. She lashes out and kills Hrothgar’s best man. Then, Beowulf goes down into her cave where he duels her. He nearly loses his life when both his sword and armor fail him. “No sword could slice her evil skin , that Hrunting could not hurt her, was useless now when he needed it.” (1521-24) He took a magical sword that was hanging on her wall and killed her with it. Beowulf’s helpers in this stage would be the sword and God. Without the sword he would not have been to kill Grendel’s mother. Beowulf relies on God’s help and often gives Him thanks after a battle is over. The next stage in his journey is the climax or final battle. After defeating Grendel’s mother, Beowulf returns to his hometown where he reigns as king for fifty years. He is a good king, keeping peace in his country. After fifty years of peace, a fire-breathing dragon is awoken, so he must go protect his people. Beowulf and his warriors venture out to the dragon’s lair. He goes in alone, confident that he can defeat the beast. He is sadly mistaken; Beowulf’s armor starts to melt and his sword breaks against the dragon‘s scaly back. He was left there to die when all of his fellow warriors ran away cowardly into the woods. Only one brave soldier remained: Wiglaf. The final stage in initiation is the hero’s flight. This story’s flight is Wiglaf saving Beowulf.

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