The Hero’s Quest is commonly divided into three groups: the Departure, the Initiation, and the Return. Each group has its own steps that a typical epic poem’s hero would follow on his quest. In the epic poem, Beowulf, the unknown author uses several steps of the Hero’s Quest to make Beowulf seem like a typical epic hero that follows the Hero’s Quest.
The first step of the Departure is the Call to Adventure; this is the point in the hero’s life when he is informed that he will have to go on a quest. Beowulf experienced The Call to Adventure when heard of Grendel’s attacks on Heorot, and he felt obligated to aid King Hrothgar because he is his father’s friend. The second step of the Departure is the Refusal of the Call, which is when the …show more content…
The unknown author most likely chose to omit this step to portray Beowulf as a strong character that does what he has to do to complete his quest. There are six steps in the Initiation of the Hero’s Quest. The first step in the Initiation is the Road of Trials, which is a series of tests that the hero must face to begin the transformation. The Road of Trials in Beowulf is his battles with Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the dragon. Beowulf experienced obstacles in each battle, but he still was able to fight his best and kill all three of his enemies. The second step in the Initiation is the Meeting with the Goddess; this is when the hero meets a goddess and experiences love. This did not occur in Beowulf. If a monk was the one who wrote the story down, he might have wanted to leave that part out based off of religious purposes. If the monk did not choose to omit this step, the unknown author might not have included it to show that Beowulf was determined and did not let anything in his way when he had a task. The third step of the Initiation is the Woman as the Temptress, which is when the hero is tempted by a woman. This does not occur in Beowulf, and it was most likely omitted for the same reason as The Meeting with the Goddess. The fourth step in the Initiation is the Atonement with the Father. This step is when the hero must confront whoever holds all the power in his life. The Atonement with the Father is when Beowulf speaks to
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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.
Beowulf has shown many characteristics of a hero. Where as Grendel has shown characteristics of being an outcast. The role of the hero in Beowulf was portrayed by Beowulf himself. Beowulf was the leader and took on three quests for the people. Most heros would need some form of preparation before they complete quests, but Beowulf on the other hand did not need any. Beowulf had a calling when he was leader. These callings were the three quests that Beowulf needed to complete for the greater good of Hrothgar’s people, defeating Grendel, defeating Grendel’s mother, and attempting to slay the dragon that had burned the houses and land of the Geats’.
There is a section of Beowulf where grendel’s mother has just attacked Herot and Beowulf must seek her den and kill her. This is where The Journey becomes important. The Journey is when the main character, Beowulf, makes a decision to take a journey, this may be physically or emotionally. Quoting the story, the author says,”He leaped into
As him and his men see the shining reflection of the Danes’ spears, Beowulf feels and interprets the uncertainty they feel, for he is this mysterious man showing up to this island filled with turmoil. As the Geats are reluctantly let in, Beowulf introduces himself and gives detailed backgrounds of his many battles, flaunting his accomplishments and emphasizing his triumphs. In the midst of his storytelling he says, “‘I had a fixed purpose when I put to sea. / As I sat in the boat with my band of men, / I meant to perform to the uttermost / what your people wanted or perish in the attempt / in the fiend’s clutches. And I shall fulfil that purpose, / prove myself with a proud deed / or meet my death here in the mead-hall’” (43).
When most people do something heroic it’s usually for a certain reason. Everyone has motivations by just about every single thing they do. Some people choose to do heroic things like become a firefighter for example these men and women choose to do this is by volunteering they could get killed it’s very dangerous and they still choose to be in the line of fire literally for some reason or another. When they choose to do something heroic like this they usually have some sort of one or even various different reasons for it. Beowulf is an epic hero himself he goes to the land of the Danes and basically kills a monster named Grendel for them without any reason behind why he actually went. Some people may say well Beowulf is just a hero and that’s what he’s supposed to do without and real reasoning behind it. Although if you read the epic for each monster Beowulf fights there is a motivation behind it. For each different monster there is a different motivation behind Beowulf fighting first is Grendel, next is Grendel’s mother and finally the dragon.
All throughout the poem Beowulf has not once hesitated in showing that he is brave and that he does not care about risking his own life to help others. In the beginning of the
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
To begin with, quests are a multi-step process; and in order for Beowulf to become an epic hero, he must follow the main structure of a quester. In Foster’s How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines he states, “The quest consists of five things: a quester, a place to go, a stated reason to go, challenges and trials en route, and a real reason to go there” (Foster 3). Quests are no simple matter, and in order for a hero to be considered epic, they must pass the series of different characteristics. First of all, an epic hero must be someone who does something outside of his daily routine. Foster states, “A quester is just a person who goes on a quest, whether or not he knows it’s a quest” (3). The epic hero must be exceptional, there must be something remarkable about him. In the same way, an epic hero should be leaving somewhere to do something. Foster also says, “A place to go and a stated reason to go there should be considered together: someone tells our protagonist, our hero, to go somewhere and do something” (Foster 3). The hero must venture out of the comfort of his home for him to be considered epic, that way he is not selfish in what he is accomplishing. The hero must also have some reason to go on this journey, some threat or mission he must fulfill. Adding to that, challenges must be overcame for your hero to be considered epic. Foster quotes, “A knight, a dangerous road, a Holy Grail, at least one dragon, one evil knight, one princess” (2). Whatever challenges he may face, he must face them for the betterment of humanity. And finally, an epic hero must be on this journey not just because it is necessary, but because he is trying to find something along the way. Foster notes, “The real reason for a quest never involves the stated reason” (3). The quester is not going on this journey simply because he is asked to, there must be some reason pushing them to make these decisions. Foster’s description of a quester proves that epic heroes must be on a quest for glory and self-knowledge.
Going in to the swamp himself showcases Beowulf’s leadership style. He wants to make sure all of his men return home safely, and the only way to do this is to only endanger one life, his own. This also lends itself to the idea that Beowulf is in his line of duty for glory. Here in this scene he takes the approach of “If I want it done right I will do it myself.” As the leader of this band of Geats he wants them to live to recant his legacy in the off chance of his death; to be immortalized in history as a brave warrior who died in the line of battle. The swim down to Grendel’s mother’s lair exemplifies Beowulf’s super-human qualities. It was said that he swam for the better part of a day, a deed which by human standards is impossible. Once at the bottom he faces the swamp hag in a battle which once again ends with his victory. When has a story ever had the hero die in the middle of the book? The fact that Beowulf just happened to see the giant sword on the wall shows that he is a hero because things go his way. As one of the oldest written stories of a warrior hero, Beowulf was the basis for all male warriors from this point on. Everything goes their way, the adversaries are defeated, and a celebration is had.
Ever since the beginning of humanity, stories from all corners of the world all follow the hero’s journey, a system coined by Joseph Campbell. Elements of the hero’s journey can be found in every single story, from Harry Potter to Paradise Lost. The hero’s journey is in every story, and especially in the epic poem Beowulf. Beowulf has all the trappings of a memorable story. There are beasts, and a shining hero, as well as honor and loyalty. Beowulf also follows the Hero’s journey, if not distinctly. The epic poem Beowulf holds many similarities to Joseph Campbell’s monomyth, three of these similarities including the call to adventure, tests, and the resurrection.
Beowulf’s last test of courage comes in his old age when his people are threatened by a “mighty” dragon. Beowulf felt as if something he had done had caused the irascible beast to wreck havoc on his people, “killing and destroying” them and their homes with its “molten” breath. Knowing what had to be done, Beowulf bravely faced the dragon, while all of his people, except for one, fled in fear. His last battle, which ended in death, displayed Beowulf’s unwavering courage, the type that every hero should possess.
For the last stage known as the return stage will be what he attained. In the refusal of the return the quote “WHEN the hero-quest has been accomplished, through penetration to the source, or through the grace of some male or female, human or animal, personification, the adventurer still must return with his life-transmuting trophy.”(179) After all he went through it must have been tough but was glad to be home.
Beowulf was a good king. He wasn’t greedy or mean or selfish, he put his people first. And it’s evident in the fact that he went to fight the dragon himself, when he could’ve got some other “hero” to do it. “...he saw nothing to fear, thought nothing of the beast’s claws,
Literary epics tend to follow the basic path in their plotlines of a hero who undergoes a quest, and Beowulf is no different. Beowulf is unique in that his tale is split into two stories taking place decades apart, one when he is a young warrior and the other when he is an old and wise king. Both stories follow the basic structure for a literary epic, a talented hero is charged with a quest, proves himself with a smaller feat, is aided by supplementary characters, enters a foreign and often supernatural environment, faces near-defeat, recovers and triumphs, and then reaps the rewards of his endeavor. Another example of an epic with this structure is Homer’s Odyssey, which blatantly follows the established sequence of events in a hero 's journey.