Examples Of Flaws In Beowulf

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Flaws by Contrast
Comparisons and contrasts play a huge role in literary works, especially between characters. Not only do they show similarities and differences between various characters, but they also bring out specific qualities that make a character unique and help guide the readers towards a common conclusion. In the popular Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf, the protagonist and hero, Beowulf, is emphasized for his extraordinary greatness. Throughout his story, he, as an advocate of good, encounters many opposing forces in the form of other characters. In a society where heroism and bravery are honored as essential aspects of culture, the contrasting values of these characters, or foils, help define Beowulf as the model hero. He becomes often associated with the image of a perfect, almighty warrior, able to prove his fame in any situation. However, the foil characters can do more than purely illuminate his positive values. With the contrast they provide, Beowulf’s faults are revealed and criticized as well. Although foil characters often point out the greatness of Beowulf, they also serve to highlight Beowulf’s flaws, teach him lessons, and allow him to change, as seen in his interactions with Unferth, Hrothgar, and the dragon. Despite Unferth’s challenge and jealousy towards Beowulf, his actions help Beowulf admit his flaws amidst his greatness. Beowulf first encounters Unferth, one of Hrothgar’s courtiers, when he goes to the Danes to help King Hrothgar fight Grendel.

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