Throughout the story, Beowulf’s boasts resemble nothing less than a symbol of his arrogance. “…sailors have brought us stories of Herot, the best of all mead-halls, deserted and useless when the moon hangs in skies the sun had lit, light and life fleeing together. My people have said, the wisest, most knowing and best of them, that my duty was to go to the Danes’ Great king. They have seen my strength for themselves, have watched me rise from the darkness of war, dripping with my enemies’ blood. I drove five great giants into chains, chased all of that race from the earth. I swam in the blackness of night, hunting monsters out of the ocean, and killing them one by one; death was my errand and the fate they had earned. Now Grendel and I are called together, and I’ve come…I, alone and with the help of my men, may purge all evil from this hall. I have heard, too, that the monster’s scorn of men is so great that he needs no weapons and fears none. Nor will I. My lord
In the epic poem of Beowulf, many leadership skills and attributes are demonstrated. Beowulf, as the leader of his band of warriors, makes the evidence of excellent leadership skills clear. He sets an example for his band by being a protector of his people in which, he came to them in a time of need (McArthur). He also upholds the standards of truth and justice by taking the life of Grendel (McArthur). Beowulf also leads his band by having an inspirational vision through his behavior and actions (Loughman). His confidence in his abilities is another factor that plays into his role as a leader (Loughman).
Beowulf is a model of leadership for our own times because he is very courageous and his strength is super human like. His skills and traits would not be good in our times though because a leader of a nation in our time doesn’t need to be very courageous and very strong to fight off people or go to war.
To begin with, One of Beowulf’s characteristics for being an epic hero would be his strength. Beowulf first killed Grendel, which no one else could defeat because Grendel was too powerful. Then, Beowulf killed Grendel’s Mother who was defeated by Beowulf’s bare hands because his sword wasn’t powerful enough to kill her. Last, Beowulf defeated the Dragon by taking his heart from his body which is something no one else could have done. Beowulf’s dedication and strength set forth to him being able to defeat the dragon. "I’d use no sword, no weapon, if this beast could be killed without it, crushed to death, like Grendel, Gripped in my hands and torn limb from limb." (42). This quote means that when Grendel couldn’t be defeated by any weapons, Beowulf made it simple and said that he was going
Beowulf’s strength is beyond any of human comparison and has allowed him to accomplish tasks that would have obliterated lesser men and gain renown throughout the world. Beowulf’s boasts of his strength are not to be received as prideful or egotistical but rather as a true representation of his power as Beowulf always fulfils his boasts. When Beowulf pledges to vanquish Grendel, he does not take it lightly and tells Hrothgar and his wife, Wealhtheow, that “..I shall fulfil that purpose, prove myself with a proud victory or meet my death here in the mead-hall.”(636-638), showing that he is prepared to die, if needed, to defeat this hellish creature. Later that night, in his battle with Grendel, Beowulf showed his strength. “The Captain of evil discovered himself in a handgrip harder than anything he had ever encountered in any man on the face of the earth… in all his days, he had never been clamped or cornered like this”(749-752,755-756). Beowulf’s strength surpassed that of even supernatural beings and allowed his to go on the offensive against a foe that had ravaged Heorot for years and thus allowed him to fulfill his boast. Beowulf power is brought out in his recitation of his deeds and again later actions against the mother of Grendel and a fire breathing dragon that threatens his home. In all of this fights, Beowulf is not seeking glory for himself, but
Beowulf’s two main positive attributes are his selflessness for the people that he does not consider friends initially as well as confidence to go into battle whenever certain death is prevalent. During the story Beowulf goes against four different enemies, three that are monsters where typical weapons would do no good and an impossible battle against the Swedes. In all he is the only person save Wiglaf at the end that is willing to fight these enemies. The moments leading up to Beowulf’s fight with Grendel, the narrator implies the sheer animosity of the enemy, “None of them expected he would ever see his homeland again or get back to his native place and the people who reared him.They knew too well the way it was before, how often the Danes had fallen prey to death in the mead-hall. (Heaney 47)” Nobody, likely including Beowulf even saw the remote possibility of him defeating even, only the first monster, yet he showed a willingness to fight and powered through and won. It is heavily implied that he only did this for his own glory and the pure danger of the situation, but by many especially the characters in the book, this is interpreted as someone without a fear of death.
Beowulf’s virtues of courage and strength appear throughout the poem during his life as a warrior and as a king. He begins the story with courage and “the strength of thirty / in the grip of each hand” (380-381), which are vital to his accomplishments as a warrior. His courage and strength are apparent when he fights Grendel without the use of weapons. Both virtues are crucial to his success in that battle and lead him to become a leader of wisdom and stature. As king of Heorot he uses his courage and strength in the battle against the dragon. Before the fight he has a feeling of uncertainty and it is stated “He was sad at heart / unsettled yet ready, sensing his death. / His fate hovered near, unknowing but certain: / It would soon claim his coffered soul.” (2419-2424). His sense of forthcoming death may illustrates a lack of confidence in his ability to slay the dragon; however, it also shows tremendous courage by involving himself in an unevenly matched fight. Although his physical strength may have abandoned him in his last fight against the dragon, his courage and wisdom intensified his glory beyond his death.
Leadership skills are exemplified in the poem Beowulf through Beowulf’s characteristics and actions and his ability to lead and motivate his thanes. Unwillingness to give in to pride is also a leadership skill revealed in Beowulf. Beowulf displays courage and confidence during the battles of all three beasts of Beowulf. He ensures that his warriors trust in him enough to believe that they may be able to achieve a definite goal together. Beowulf, however, does allow his pride to obscure his vision of the future, therefore he does not possess all the necessary skills a leader should have.
In the 21st century a good leader is someone who is courageous, understanding, selfless, fights for other and not themselves and not a person who has a big ego. Throughout history the meaning or definition of a good leader has changed much. In the Anglo – Saxon time period, Beowulf, was considered to be a great leader and a hero according to his people, for risking his life and saving them from evil monsters. But in today’s world and lifestyle and how much things and times have changed, Beowulf would not be considered to be a good leader or a hero.
In any culture there is some type of leadership. Whether it is a group or a single person, all leadership has certain qualities that are admired. Qualities that have been established through cultural core values over centuries of time. There are certain qualities that overlap in many cultures. This is also true in Anglo-Saxon writings and stories, like Beowulf.
The notion of heroes is one that transcends time and space. Examples of heroes appear in almost every culture and time period since humans first started writing. Even the very first piece of literature written in the English language, Beowulf, is a classic example of a heroic archetype. We can also see examples of heroes in today's culture, such as in Bonnie Tyler’s song “Holding Out For a Hero” and in Tina Turner’s “We Don’t Need Another Hero”. Additionally, we make predictions of what we think heroes may be like in the future, like in the movie Mad Max:
Which “No Dane doubted the victory...(355)” and knowing that people honor him for his battles and his eagerness to fight that gives Beowulf a boost in his ego. Without his pride it would be hard to picture the strong and courageous Beowulf we all read about because then he would be without all the characteristic of what an epic hero should be. Though his pride may make Beowulf but it also was what broke him like the time when he announced he would be the only one to kill the dragon even though he was old he still wants to seek fame. Just like the time he was eager to fight Grendel at his lair. He was not afraid to seek Grendel out or kill him in his lair not knowing who or what would be in the monster’s lair when he went in.
Beowulf’s qualities as a leader and a king were admired through all Anglo Saxon period. Beowulf descendent of the geats a noble strong legion. Beowulf’s father an over thrown king, Beowulf became anxious when wanting his own kingdom. So, he began a journey to gain respect and be noticed and later on became a king. Many believe that Beowulf was a descendent of a god mainly because of his strength.
According to Webster’s Dictionary, leadership is the power or ability to lead other people, the act or instance of leading. I believe that Leadership is an art, the art to get others to follow and accomplish a common goal or task in a harmonic manner. A leader can be shown in all kinds of shapes and forms. To be a great leader many people believe it consists of modeling the way, inspiring a shared vision, enabling others to act, and encouraging the heart. Over the course of me learning how to become a better leader and being in leadership roles, I’ve learned that all these are very necessary to be a great leader.