Epic of Beowulf Essay - Beowulf as Epic Hero

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Beowulf as Epic Hero

Epic heroes usually exemplify the character traits most admired in their societies, and Beowulf is no exception. "Beowulf" is set in the Anglo-Saxon society, a time when war was rampant among the many peoples trying to take over the different kingdoms of England. In this dangerous, violent time people lived in constant peril and jeopardy. These conditions only allowed people of great bravery to survive and men of outstanding courage were admired the populous. These warriors fought for their leader and tribe in return for treasure and protection. This relationship between the lord and his men was the basis of the Anglo-Saxon society. The epic poem "Beowulf" is a perfect example of how this system worked in
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/ Nor will I" (l 188-191). His saying this makes it evident to Hrothgar that he refuses to use weapons against this unarmed monster. Beowulf is also brave enough to battle a fire dragon which ultimately leads to his demise. Yet, Beowulf never let his own accomplishments exceed the praise of his lord. "But no one meant Beowulf's praise to belittle / Hrothgar, their fine and gracious king!" (l 514-515) Just as Beowulf defends his king, Beowulf's followers defend him when he challenges Grendel and Grendel's mother. In the battle with Grendel "All of Beowulf's / Band had jumped from their beds, ancestral / Swords raised and ready determined / To protect their prince if they could" (l 446-449).

After the warriors have performed their duties, the lord must also perform his. The lord must protect his followers, reward his warriors, provide hospitality, and honor all of the brave warriors who have protected him. The Danes had a tremendous victory early in the poem, and Hrothgar "Resolved / To build a hall that would hold his mighty / Band and reach higher toward Heaven than anything / That had ever been known to the sons of men" (l 4-7). This serves as a reward for his men. When Beowulf arrives in Herot, he addresses Hrothgar as "Lord and protector of this noble place" (l 183) and as the "shelterer of warriors" (l 185). These comments prove

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