Grendel and Beowulf Heroism

1584 WordsMay 15, 20057 Pages
Intentions and Heroism A building is ablaze and a crowd of people stare helplessly from the streets, listening to screams coming from within. A single person runs in to rescues whomever he or she can find. Whether or not that person emerges with a child in their arms, empty handed, or not at all, does nothing to alter our society's perception of their heroism. Today's society would classify such an action as heroic, regardless of outcome, for one reason: intentions. During Anglo-Saxton times the interpretation of such an act, based on the tale Beowulf, would not be so understanding of what was intended, but rather of the outcome. If one perished and failed in an attempt of such a heroic act words like weakness might arise. It is here…show more content…
People see him as a hero before he ever does anything heroic. Beowulf in Grendel is no hero regardless of the outcome of his actions, for they stand with all the wrong intentions behind them. Unferth is not a person of respect in Beowulf, even his name means "discord" or "nonsense". His position within the mead hall is at the king's feet, which is one of jest. (17 Rebsamen) His part in Beowulf isn't enough for us to get a deep understand into the man or his intentions, but he does seem to redeem himself when he presents Beowulf with his sword before he goes into battle with Grendel's mother. This can be interpreted in several ways, perhaps Unferth attempting to make amends with Beowulf because of his respected position. Another interpretation could be that Unferth is rising above the petty argument for the greater good, redeeming himself to no one but himself. Gardner places a different "spin" on Unferth. For one he is a much more important character and appears much more often than in Beowulf, in fact Unferth and Beowulf's importance and appearance seems to flip from Beowulf to Grendel respectively. Secondly Unferth is all about intentions in Grendel. "I had a chance. I knew I had no more than that. It's all a hero asks for." (89) You will not see in quote in Beowulf said by anyone like those words spoken by Unferth in Grendel. Unferth is outright saying

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