The Hero’s Death in the Epic of Beowulf Essay

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The Hero’s Death in Beowulf

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.

Towards the end of the poem, when the fire-dragon ravaged the Geatish land and burned down King Beowulf’s mead-hall:

To the good king

it was great anguish, pain deep in mind.

The wise man believed he . . .

had broken the old law; his breast welled
…show more content…
And he is fully willing to sacrifice his very life for this: “… I alone will fulfill the wish of your people … or die in the foe’s grasp.”

Beowulf consciously chooses to act in a superhuman manner: “I shall perform the deeds of a hero or I have passed my last day in this mead hall.” Even Grendel recognizes the hero’s superior strength: “The criminal knew he had not met in this middle-earth another with such a grip.” Other warriors when thinking of Beowulf “would quickly compose a skillful tale in words.” Hrothgar refers to Beowulf as “the best of warriors.” The Danish queen Wealhtheow compliments after Grendel’s defeat, “You have earned forever the praise of men from near and far.” Hrothgar expounds on good warriors: “This is the best-born man – my friend Beowulf … the best of warriors.” When the dragon burns the mead hall of the Geats and Beowulf prepares to retaliate, he “scorned a host, a large army … he didn’t fear the dragon’s war …” Beowulf is also superior in a moral sense: When Hygelac’s wife Hygd previously offered Beowulf the kingdom, he declined to accept because there was a legitimate heir to the throne. Beowulf’s example of extreme heroism motivates others to extraordinary deeds: Wiglaf, seeing Beowulf’s strength compromised by the dragon’s fire, risks his life to aid Beowulf in his final battle. It is obvious that the hero possesses superhuman qualities. As
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