In the literary work of Beowulf, it is imperative to analyze the relationships between characters and how those relationships function to create new meaning or a better understanding of the literature as a whole. In Beowulf, it can be said that the characters of Beowulf and Wiglaf share parallels that serve to show Wiglaf as becoming the next king, and not only the successor of the throne, but a sign of hope for the doomed society of the Geats. These similarities can be recognized especially well through the Anglo Saxon beliefs of what makes an exceptional warrior, as well as certain language chosen when describing the two characters. Furthermore, the two characters mirror each other in motifs of the story such as the father and son aspect, the coming of age to become king motif, and the importance of kinsmen in the society. First, both the characters prove that they are, indeed, true Anglo Saxon warriors, both upholding and maintaining the values, qualities, and characteristics required of a thane by their society. They display loyalty in their gratitude to their gold giver, bravery in their reactions to dire situations, strength and skill with weaponry in their battles, and generosity. The characters' loyalty is of no question in this text. Beowulf, before he wrestles with Grendel's mother, makes sure that in the instance of his death all of his bounty will be bequeathed to his lord to show his appreciation of the lord's generosity. He orders Hrothgar to "send Hygelac the
Seemingly minor character Wiglaf plays a central role in the conclusion of Beowulf. A young knight who has never before seen battle, Wiglaf steps forward to help his lord, hero, and cousin Beowulf in a time of peril. With his failure in battle and resulting death, the narrator shows that Beowulf is, after all, a prideful and mortal being; thus begins the transfer of heroic status from the old king to the young knight. The narrator argues that Wiglaf is worthy of his abruptly acquired status even though his intentions may seem questionable. The end of the poem devotes a significant amount of lines to dialogue spoken by Wiglaf, signifying his newly crucial role in his kingdom and in the story.
Beowulf accomplished what may be the most difficult of all challenges in today’s times, he was able to aid other countries in times of need and respectfully communicate with them as well. After hearing word of Grendel’s attack, Beowulf decided to sail to Denmark and help defend Hrothgar’s people. In doing so, Hrothgar praised Beowulf and vowed to him that there was to always be an alliance between the Geats and the Danes from that day, forward. Beowulf was also idolized for the great amount of riches he brought to his people. After defeating Grendel, Hrothgar indulged Beowulf in a tremendous amount of riches. Instead of keeping the generous reward for himself, he took the riches home and gave them over to his king, Higlac, in hopes that the gifts would benefit his people. Beowulf was designated the king of the Geats for 50 winters, and always went to great lengths to protect his people. When dangerous situations arose, he stepped up to the plate and defended his people, no matter what the cost. In his old age, Beowulf made the ultimate sacrifice. He battled the dragon, and eventually met face-to-face with death. As a leader, Beowulf sacrificed his life in protection of his people; his heroic sacrifice is the ultimate demonstration of how an epic hero defends their people and serves as a positive influence in their culture.
Beowulf is an Old English poem written somewhere between the eighth century and the tenth century; the culture of Germanic times is depicted through varying concepts of masculinity that not only describes their capability as a warrior, but also their aptitude as a leader. Beowulf shows of a demon named Grendel attacking Heorot, and the king, Hrothgar, calls Beowulf, a warrior, for help with the slaying of Grendel. Characteristics and qualities of leadership are directly linked to the masculinity of the characters within Beowulf. The leaders in the prologue are demonstrated with the aspects of masculinity through their strength and brutality. In Beowulf, a man demonstrates his essential worth through evidence of masculinity as seen in Unferth’s cowardice, Beowulf’s heroism, and Wiglaf’s bravery.
Beowulf first task on his path to gain glory is to defeat the merciless monster Grendel, who haunts Heorot for twelve long winters. If he wins this battle, he does not only gain glory and respect for himself, but also for his king and clan. He exhibits all the great qualities of a person and has a lot of esteem and admiration for his king Hygelac. One of the ways we can show Beowulf’s loyalty to Hygelac is when Beowulf explains to Hrothgar how he was going to fight Grendel “I have heard moreover that
Beowulf, the defender of Hrothgar and Heorot, exhibits far more complicated (and less sincere) shades of revenge than the Grendel’s mother. At the end of the day, Beowulf’s goal is to become the preeminent warrior in all the land. In his society, the only way to gain such widespread celebrity is through courageous and self-endangering acts. Beowulf masks these deeds with a façade of seeking revenge; he supposedly comes to Heorot to save the Danes from Grendel’s terror, but his true motives lie in becoming a hero. His reward is not the pride of doing a good deed; Beowulf is rewarded with lavish and expensive gifts.
Many readers of the poem Beowulf may find it difficult to distinguish the 'good' kings from the rest – indeed, almost every man who holds a throne in the epic is named at one point or another to be 'good'. By examining the ideals of the time period as identified by the 'heroic code', it becomes clearer that a truly 'good' king is one who generously distributes treasure and weaponry to deserving retainers to honour courage and strength displayed in battle and to encourage the defense of the kingdom (Intro). When Beowulf ascends the throne of the Geats, the heroic traits of courage and strength for which he was so highly praised as a warrior do not serve well in making him a good king. Indeed, by exhibiting the traits of a thane, that is, by
The poem Beowulf presents the transformation of Beowulf from a brave warrior to an honorable King. The evolution of Beowulf shows how he fulfills his obligations to the warrior’s heroic code and then transcends into a King who loyally protects his Kingdom. Beowulf’s transformation is shown through a progression of three increasingly more difficult conflicts he must overcome- first with Grendel, then Grendel’s mother and finally against the mighty dragon. These three events are seen "as the three agons in the hero 's life"(Chickering 64). Through these adverse events Beowulf will change from brave young warrior to noble King. This paper will examine the manifestation of heroism in the poem
After the first victory, Beowulf’s “comrades willingly go with him because of their confidence in his ability to lead them and to achieve their objectives” (Loughman). Beowulf becomes a role model not only for his thanes, but for the Danes of Heorot as well. Following defeat of Grendel’s mother, Hrothgar gives a sermon before the celebration honoring Beowulf begins. Hrothgar says “Beowulf, my friend, your fame has gone far and wide, you are known everywhere….forever you will be your people’s mainstay and your own warriors’ helping hand” (McArthur). King Hrothgar informs Beowulf of his significance to the Danes and how he serves as the backbone of his group of warriors.
Although traditional Anglo-Saxon society emphasizes on patriarchal views, women play significant roles in “Beowulf”, challenging the masculinity presented. This is portrayed through Wealhtheow, Hildeburh and Freawaru, and Grendel’s mother through their hospitality, their peace weaving, and their anger. In contrast to the stereotype of women being submissive and compliant, “Beowulf” brings new light to the idea of women. An example of hospitality is when Wealhtheow, queen to Hrothgar, is a hostess for people in the hall, allowing all the nobles there to drink and have an appropriate celebration for the event.
Generosity is valued greatly in a king, but there is no attempt to disguise the fact that it is motivated by the need to maintain the support of a band of retainers. The warriors have a culture that accepts and embraces this give-and-take relationship between rulers and ruled as necessary for society to function effectively. The emphasis on the loyalty of the warriors has a special resonance for Beowulf, given the disloyalty of his men in his encounter with the dragon. This passage also emphasizes the importance of behavior in securing the respect and support of others. This warrior society so highly values its heroic code; which highly esteems those who conform to the code’s principles. Beowulf vaunts himself as a great warrior and backs up his words by defeating Grendel; he is then celebrated and received as a hero. On the other hand, he is unwilling to fight Grendel or Grendel’s mother. Though such verbal elements as boasts and stories are crucial to the warrior culture, heroes are, above all, defined by
The defining characteristics of Beowulf is his bravery, and his strong desire to demonstrate it to others. He travels to the land of the Danes to prove his courage by destroying Grendel, and he then fearlessly pursues Grendel's mother into her underwater lair. Even late in his life, he dies fighting against a dragon that is terrorizing his homeland. Beowulf is also concerned about loyalty and honor, all of which are related to the self-sacrificial nature of his courage. Virtues celebrated by Anglo-Saxons and revealed in Beowulf include loyalty, generosity, brotherly love, and heroism. Beowulf is loyal to Hrothgar and seeks to help his kingdom despite the fact that he is not a Dane. He displays generosity by bringing gifts bestowed upon him from the Danes back to his own uncle and king of Geatland. Brotherly love is seen most in Beowulf's relationship with his men. Rather than assuming a position of honor after the defeat of Grendel, he chooses to
Some literary scholars maintain that Beowulf developed character flaws through the course of the long narrative poem, and that at the time of his death he was a victim of pride, avarice, selfishness and an inordinate craving for glory. The purpose of this essay is to show that he was a tremendous hero from beginning to end.
Beowulf’s men show unquestioning loyalty as they submit their lives to their lord. The night of Beowulf’s fight with Grendel, the men are told by Beowulf to sleep (in the mead hall) and they bravely do, showing immense trust and devotion as they are aware of that they could very well increase their chance of dying when Grendel attacks if they follow as Beowulf instructs (to sleep as opposed to standing guard through the night). Beowulf remains loyal to King Hrothgar and as he promised to purge the mead hall of its murderous foes, he fulfills his pledge by killing not only Grendel, but also Grendel’s mother. Beowulf in turn is also loyal to his men as he states to King Hrothgar, “…if I at your need I should go from life, you would always be in a father’s place for me when I am gone: be guardian of my young retainers, my companions, if battle should take me.” Nor does Beowulf forget his king as he also requests that Hrothgar send the rewarded treasures and gifts to Hygelac if Grendel’s mother defeats him. Wiglaf, portrayed as the only worthy one of Beowulf’s company that joined him at his battle with the dragon, also showed loyalty in his aiding his Beowulf in fighting the dragon (as others cowardly shy away from the fight) and followed Beowulf’s instructions for carrying out his funeral and other processions after Beowulf’s death, and in his speech to the people he
Throughout the poem, Beowulf, is characterized by his acts of heroism in the Anglo-Saxon society. He not only possesses the values of strength and bravery, but as well exhibits the theme of the “Germanic-Code” which include loyalty, chivalry, and self-respect. But it seems that his values of heroism leans
The epic tale of Beowulf was written sometime after his death. In other words, a long time ago during the Anglo-Saxon period. Today, directors in Hollywood did not keep from creating their own rendition of this epic poem As a result, plenty of modern interpretations of Beowulf, such as Sturla Gunnarsson’s Beowulf and Grendel, have been released. Naturally, the cultural values that might be reflected in modern Beowulf renditions will demonstrate a clash with those of the original fifth century Beowulf literature. One reason for this is that in the modern age we value characters with profound characteristics, characters that change due to the challenges they experience; characters that we as the audience can attach to. Flat characters like those of the original Beowulf text are difficult to empathize with since they are not realistic enough for our standards. Due to these differences in culture and values, the Beowulf and Grendel from the original Beowulf text possess definite contrasts when compared with their Beowulf and Grendel counterparts.