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.
Out of anger she slices her sons head off and seduces Beowulf, she tells him to give her a son since he killed her only son. Grendel’s mother tells Beowulf as long as the horn stays in her lair she will not attack his Hrothgar’s people again. Beowulf brings Grendel’s head back to show the Danes and lies about killing Grendel’s mother. In the poem, Beowulf swims to the bottom of the lake knowing Grendel’s mother would follow him. She meets him at the bottom of the lake, they begin fighting at some point she gets the best of him, but Beowulf gets back up and starts winning.
The first part of the hero quest was when Beowulf fought the demonic monster known as Grendel. Beowulf hears about Grendel and accepts the challenge to defeat him. He spends the evening in the mead hall awaiting the arrival of Grendel. When Grendel appears, he attempts to snatch Beowulf; he fails. Beowulf grabs Grendel by his arm with his bare hands and rips off the monster’s arm with ease.
The two stories of Macbeth and Beowulf have different plot, but hold similar elements. The legend of Beowulf, set in 500 A.D., begins with an evil monster terrorizing the mead hall of Heorot. The monster, Grendel, attacks Heorot with desire for wickedness. For copious amount of years, Grendel slaughters the men by night, each night. Until a hero named Beowulf hears the Geats cries and comes to their rescue.
The text describes Beowulf’s strength by stating, “But Beowulf longed only for fame leaped back into battle. He tossed his sword aside, angry; the steel-edged blade lay where he dropped it. If weapons were useless he’d use his hands, the strength in his fingers.” (457-462). Beowulf realizes that his sword is ineffective against the mighty mother of Grendel. He gives up on a useless weapon and attacks the terrifying monster with his bare hands.
This also indicates that Beowulf kills for the purpose of battle and avenging the lives lost at the hands of Grendel. Lastly, we must analyze the monsters in the poem and how they are different and similar to the hero. Grendel is a chaotic monster that comes to Heorot Hall each evening to attack and feast on King Hrothgar’s people (page 44, lines 115-25). Grendel’s actions of killing demonstrate to the reader that he does not do this for any higher purpose other than to cause chaos, meaning he has no value for honor. Another heroic trait that Grendel does not possess is power of blood.
The dragons solely purpose was to defend his material resource, and once he failing at that mission violence was the natural retribution. Once Beowulf learns that his house, / had been burned to a fragment (Beowulf, 2325-2326), he decides that the time has return for the defender of the Geats to face this beast. In his fight with the dragon, Beowulfs actions dwell the hands of fate, the ultimate demand of the Heroic Code. Whereas the dragon acts out of pure revenge, Beowulf seeks out the duel with the dragon so as to satisfy his destiny. The veteran king weekday down on the cliff-top...
To prove himself, Beowulf informs the King Hrothgar of his new expedition, killing Grendel. “Grendel was the name of this grim demon haunting the marches, marauding round the heath and the desolate fens; he had dwelt for a time in misery among the banished monsters, Cain's clan, whom the creator had outlawed and condemned as outcasts.” (Beowulf, 102). Basically, Grendel was constantly a threat to the community, which is why it was quite a task to rid of him. Eventually, Beowulf kills nine sea monsters and faces his battle with Grendel. When he murders Grendel, he leaves all the materialistic treasures and only takes the most valuable thing to him, Grendel’s head.
When Grendel dies from the power of Beowulf, this does not leave Grendel’s Mother amused. Grendel’s Mother is attacking Herot and “she’d killed a glorious soldier,cut a noble life short.No Geat could have stopped her”(Beowulf 416-417). As seen in the quote, Grendel’s mother is very upset about what happened to her son. By killing a soldier and terrorizing Herot, she is getting revenge for the death of her son. Then Beowulf goes to fight Grendel’s Mother, and during the fight Grendel’s mother “drew a dagger,brown with dried blood, and prepared to avenge her only son”(Beowulf 501-503).
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.
Though the dragon managed to kill Beowulf in time from a bite that was poisonous, one his most loyal knights slayed the dragon and after retrieving the treasure he kept it hidden. Beowulf tells Wiglaf to build him barrow where people will remember him by. He was one of the bravest knights putting himself in danger over people he didn 't know, and later honoring his word to the king. In each battle he fought he made things as equal for his opponent as himself. He was the true meaning of a chivalric Knight.
These characteristics make Beowulf a hero. Beowulf’s traits help make Beowulf the epic hero of this myth. Beowulf’s bravery helps him defeat the mystical creatures. When Beowulf fights Grendel’s mother, it seems like all hope is lost before he kills her with the magical sword. Even though the odds were not in his favor, he never gave up.