Beowulf is an Anglo-Saxon epic about a great warrior who values the Anglo-Saxon ideas of loyalty, personal indebtedness, fame, fate, and heroism. The epic is named after, and centered on, Beowulf and his quests; however, several other characters also reflect Anglo-Saxon values throughout the story. For example, King Hrothgar built “the best/ Of all mead-halls” (ll.145-146) so that his “men lived happy” (l. 15). Hrothgar built the mead-hall because he was indebted to his men who served and protected him. Meanwhile, Beowulf was indebted to Hrothgar because Hrothgar once defended Beowulf’s family.
To them, power is everything and for one person to attain so much power, one must become a hero and perform heroic deeds. An Anglo-Saxon hero is perfectly portrayed by Beowulf who contains values of Anglo-Saxons like bravery, loyalty, honor and the willingness to risk his life for the greater good of his people. The latter is primarily why he gains the trust of his people which is why he claims the title of King and therefore gets hold of power. While Beowulf is the symbol and representation of heroes in Anglo Saxons, we have multiple personalities who we consider as heroes. People who work, people who dream, people who act.
Is Beowulf a Hero? The poem Beowulf, tells of great the great undertakings of Beowulf, a man who has defeated many ruthless monsters and seeks fame and glory. If we take Beowulf and compare him to the Anglo-Saxon ideal hero, Beowulf fills all the necessary requirements but, when compared to modern day standards, Beowulf doesn’t quite make the cut. In the modern day, selflessness is the ideal. It is evident from the beginning of the poem that Beowulf is meant to be the hero.
After reading and analyzing both Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, I received multiple perspectives of a “hero” and what that word meant during these time periods. Therefore, in both stories, it was evident that in order to be considered a hero during this time one had to be selfless and loyal to the king/crown by sacrificing oneself to maintain the tranquility within their kingdom. Nonetheless, in terms of Beowulf, I considered both the protagonist, Beowulf, and one of his warriors, Wiglaf, to be heroic individuals who portrayed all the necessary characteristics one must acquire to be considered a hero during this century. This was because Beowulf numerously sacrificed himself to protect King Hrothgar’s kingdom, when he battled
Heroes are a major part in any story no matter how clear their heroism is. In the case of the characters, Beowulf and Sir Gawain, they are considered to be heroes. However, they are two different types of heroes even though they both show the key attributes that make them considered to be heroes; Beowulf is the brave idealistic hero whereas Sir Gawain is a noble knight who is also modest and cares a lot about what people think of him so much so that he tells a lie to keep up his reputation. In the epic poem Beowulf, the character Beowulf hears about a monster named Grendel tormenting the land Heorot, so “he announced his plan: to sail the swan’s road and seek out that king, the famous prince who needed defenders” to help fight the monster. (David and Simpson, Beowulf 46) Once there he defeats Grendel without any weapons, just his bravery, and strength.
Alexander Hamilton once said, “There is a certain Enthusiasm in liberty that makes Human nature rise above itself, in acts of bravery and heroism.” Beowulf is an epic poem in which the main character Beowulf did acts of service, but he fought for those who couldn’t fight. The overall theme of good versus evil in Beowulf had Beowulf dealing with challenges that no ordinary man would be able to handle unless they were a true epic hero. Throughout the poem Beowulf proves to be an epic hero by his strength, bravery, and sacrifice. Beowulf is an epic hero because of his strength. His strength isn’t the same as an ordinary man, “He twisted in pain and the bleeding sinews deep in his shoulder snapped muscle and on split and broke” (lines 337-340).
Throughout the history of literature, authors have portrayed many heroic figures who have performed fantastic and remarkable deeds in all genres of fiction and nonfiction literature. However, in historic literature, a typical hero was a male warrior who put his life in danger for the sake of glory, such as Beowulf from the epic poem Beowulf. However, as society and literature have evolved, the stereotypical definition of a hero has also changed to describe the modern hero more accurately. J. K. Rowling, a modern English author, noticed this change in the definition of a hero and decided that Harry Potter, a young, teenage boy who possesses magical powers, would be the main protagonist throughout the Harry Potter series of books. When looking at the characteristics of Beowulf and Harry Potter, one can clearly see that there are a few similarities and some striking differences between the two characters, but both heroes have a value or a group of people that they have the desire to defend.
In Anglo- Saxon England, courage and loyalty were valued (Janet, 101). A man with valor and loyalty was expected to be rewarded by their king (Janet, 103). Furthermore, above anything, everyone battled for fame because fame is the only thing that lasts. In Beowulf, Beowulf is a renowned Geatish warrior and hero (Beowulf, 153-156). His
Some examples are, Beowulf Slaying Grendel and Grendel's mother to save the land of the Danes, and soldiers fighting enemies that threaten the lives of a country, and police officers putting criminals behind bars. Both Beowulf and modern day heroes risk their life for the good of others and are held to a high regard. "Nor have I seen a mightier man-at-arms on this earth than the one standing here: unless I am mistaken, is truly noble. This is no mere hanger-on in a hero's armor”. Beowulf was a considered an epic hero because he did great deeds and was of high importance.
Beowulf: The heroic traits development It is proven that people look up to others as heroes because it is in the human nature, but what makes a hero? The qualities of a hero consist of excellence and courage used for the greater good. In the story of Beowulf, that took place in the Anglo-Saxon Culture, Beowulf uses these heroic traits to save the Danes from a beast named Grendel, as it had been bothering the Danes for a long time. In the modern age, heroes like Malala Yousafzai are displaying the same traits that were displayed in the Anglo-Saxon culture by heroes like Beowulf, but as the times are changing, the qualities of a hero are manifested differently. Firstly, Beowulf used his physical excellence to help the Danes from the monsters haunting them.
The author uses Beowulf to exemplify numerous themes within the poem. Beowulf is described as having “strong wrists” a “broad chest” and being perceived by others as “honest and open” . Through this description the reader is able to gain knowledge of the stereotypical hero during this time period. The beginning of the poem describes the idea of kingship coming into society by introducing the character King Hrothgar, King of the Danes. Similar yet somewhat different than Beowulf, Hrothgar is represented as “bold and fierce” with “a backbone that would bend to no man” .