Beowulf is a poem that based in the 10th and 11th century that revolved around the idea of good vs evil. The poem is named after Beowulf who is a supernatural hero that slays any evil that crosses his path but is a real sweetheart when it comes to other people or the king. Beowulf is to be considered an epic poem because the hero in the story creates acts of being courageous and even superhuman in some cases, reflecting timeless values such as courage and honor, and the poem reflects unforgettable values with honor and courage. Typically in an epic poem, one will see a character or “the hero” who has outstanding courage and commit superhuman deeds and show values to other people in that era. “Then he drew himself up beside his shield./The fabled warrior in his warshirt and helmet/trusted in his own strength entirely/
Throughout the history of mankind there have been many books and stories written which preview a hero doing dangerous, epic deeds for the good of others. The same is true in the story of Beowulf, titled Beowulf. Beowulf was written by the Anglo Saxons by an unknown author. In the book Beowulf, Beowulf follows the role of the archetypal hero and fulfills it by going on epic quests to help, and save kingdoms. This is shown whenever Beowulf sets out to fight Grendel, an awful beast who is terrorizing Hrothgar’s kingdom.
Beowulf possessed the poised demeanor necessary to defeat all evils by the arrogant swing of his sword. The commitment shown by lending his life to the welfare of his people was imperative in order to be called a flawless warrior. Beowulf embodied the determination that Anglo-Saxons saw as unmeasurably valuable. If nothing more than just fiction, Beowulf is the ideal hero of the people from who he originated. “They said that of all the kings upon the earth he was the man most gracious and fair-minded, kindest to his people and keenest to win fame.”
Not only have we seen brute strength, honorable courage, and admirable loyalty shine through beowulf, Beowulf also possess a great trait not many others have; his will to fight to the death, or self sacrifice. Not once throughout the story did Beowulf ever turn down a battle. Not once did he fear or flee his enemy. Not once did he ever give up even if death had him by the throat causing his mind to flood nothing but fearful thoughts and feelings throughout his body. Every battle Beowulf fought, he fought as if it was his last and that is what truly makes him the great warrior he is.
Beowulf makes known that “no man but [himself] could hope to defeat this monster, [and] no one could try.” Beowulf wants to have this fight all to himself, so he can take all of the glory. He is too selfish to conclude that only he could defeat the monster alone. Beowulf cannot be thought of as a hero because “Beowulf only longed for fame.” Beowulf does not perform heroic deeds just to save the citizens, but to receive more admiration from the citizens.
“A Hero is an ordinary person who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles”, quoted by Christopher Reeve. Beowulf however, tends to be an epic hero based on the definition of one. Beowulf was definitely a hero, not because of his super strength, smartness, or even his sword. But because when everyone backed down he was the one to step up & sacrifice his life to save others. “ Beowulf fights in various battles which shows his hero characteristics such as supernatural, bravery, and leadership.
With the battle to protect the city against the dragon, even though Beowulf was king he fought the dragon. He fought the dragon because no one else could. No one was as selfless as he was to risk his life to protect the city. Without Beowulf these monsters would over power good and there would be no balance between good and evil.
Christopher Reeve (AKA the 1978 superman) said that, “A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles”. Both Beowulf and Modern day heroes are similar in that way in that they fight for the common good of people. That quote from Christopher Reeves on what a modern day hero is, also applies to the epic hero qualities that Beowulf has. Similarly Beowulf and a modern day hero defeat an evil so that good can prevail. 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.
Beowulf is telling us that he doesn’t value the lives of his citizen, but instead values glory and is willing to fight for it. In the end, Beowulf slays the dragon but paid his life as the price. In conclusion, Beowulf would be considered a great warrior, but not a hero. Although Beowulf accomplished many heroic deeds he never did any of them for the right reasons. Therefore, Beowulf is not a hero, but only a warrior who values renown and rewards.
I am old, now, but I will fight again, seek fame still, if the dragon hiding in his tower dares to face me” (2511-2515). In conclusion, Beowulf is an epic hero. Although he made risky decisions, he did them for his people. He possessed the qualities of a hero; bravery, loyalty and fearlessness.
As king, Beowulf stepped up and fought the malevolent dragon in his last battle. In his last boast he uttered, “ I’ve never known fear, as a youth, I fought endless battles. I am old, now, but I will fight again, seek fame still, if the dragon hiding in his tower dares to face me.” (62). Beowulf was very confident for the circumstances.
Beowulf fought with great bravery and courage to protect others. He believed that the only way to immortality was to become historic. “But you have made yourself immortal by your glorious action." (Beowulf 246). Beowulf’s actions of killing Grendel and fighting his mother were events that will leave an everlasting impression.
An epic hero is an individual who must evoke a sense of heroism through legendary and inspiring deeds (Merriam-Webster). These heroes of tragedy have the ability to determine their own fortune due to the amount of admired characteristics they possess. However, the ideals of an epic hero are constantly fluctuating due to the ever changing ideals of society. Although the characteristics of an epic hero are under constant modification, Beowulf is still an effective modern-day hero due to his acts of courage, compassion, and dedication in relation to his people. Courage can be defined as any individual possessing moral or mental strength in the face of physical pain or indescribable hardship (Personalitytutor).
Christopher Reeves once said, “A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” Although Beowulf was human, he was not an ordinary individual, hero, or king, for he was a man who displayed superhuman qualities in his efforts to protect the Danish and Geatish people. Beowulf, who was established Geatish warrior that spent his life in battle, showed these extraordinary characteristics that made him an epic hero, one who possesses superhuman, almost god-like qualities. Being constantly on a quest, risking his life for glory and the greater good of society, and being superiorly intelligent, courageous and strong are the three most important reasons why Beowulf deserves such a notable
I am old, now, but I will fight again, seek fame still, if the dragon hiding in his tower dares to face me." (52) To Beowulf, even as an older and supposedly wiser man, his main reason for fighting monsters continues to be to gain more fame. Other heroes, like Gilgamesh and Odysseus, usually do heroic deeds to help their kingdoms and men. For example, Gilgamesh kills the heavenly bull to avoid a famine from wrecking his kingdom, while Odysseus works to save his men throughout the story multiple times. Loyalty towards himself before anyone or anything else, is one of the qualities that separates Beowulf from other traditional heroes.