Beowulf

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A hero is a person noted for their act of courage and the nobility of their purpose. The hero of an epic poem embodies the ideals of conduct that are most valued by the culture in which the epic was composed. Beowulf is described as a perfect hero who fights for his people and vanquishes evil with his extraordinary abilities to bring peace and justice. Three of Beowulf?s traits that support this are his amazing physical strength, his ability to put his people?s welfare before his own, and the fact that he does not fear death.


Beowulf is a hero in the eyes of his fellow men through his amazing physical strength. He fought in numerous battles and returned victorious from all but his last. Beowulf is strong enough to kill the monster Grendel, who has been terrorizing the Danes for twelve years, with his bare hands by ripping off his arm. When Beowulf is fighting Grendel's mother, who is seeking revenge on her son's death, he is able to slay her by slashing the monster's neck with a Giant's sword that can only be lifted by a person as strong as Beowulf. When he chops off her head, he carries it from the ocean with ease, but it takes four men to lift and carry it back to Herot mead-hall (39). This strength is a key trait of Beowulf's heroism.


Another heroic trait of Beowulf is his ability to put his peoples welfare before his own. Beowulf's uncle is king of the Geats so he is sent as an emissary to help rid the Danes of the evil Grendel. Beowulf risks his own life for the Danes, asking help from no one. He realizes the dangers but fears nothing for his own life. After Beowulf had served his people as King of the Geats for fifty years, he goes to battle one last time to fight a horrible dragon that is frightening all of his people. Beowulf is old and tired but he defeats the dragon in order to protect his people. Even in death he wished so secure safety for the Geats so a tall lighthouse is built in order to help the people find their way back from sea (45).


The most heroic of traits within Beowulf is that he is not afraid to die. He always explains his death wishes before going into battle and requests to have any assets delivered to his people. "And if death does take me, send the hammered mail of my armor to Higlac, return the inheritance I had from Hrehtel, and from Wayland. Fate will unwind as it must! (18)" He is aware of the heroic paradox; he will be glorified in life or death for his actions. He knows that when he fights an enemy like Grendel or Grendel's mother he will achieve immortality as the victor or the loser. "When we crossed the sea, my comrades and I, I already knew that all my purpose was this: to win the good will of


your people or die in battle, pressed in Grendel's fierce grip. Let me live in greatness and courage, or here in this hall welcome my death! (22)" Even with the enormous amount of confidence Beowulf possesses, he understands that Fate will work its magic no matter what and he could be killed at any point in his life. He faces that reality by showing no fear and preparing for a positive or a fatal outcome.


Beowulf is the prime example of an epic hero, and he embodies the conduct that the Anglo-Saxons of that time admired and also used as a model of perfection. His strength, his ability to put his people?s welfare before his own, and the fact that he does not fear death makes him revered by all, especially those of his time. These are prime examples that support the idea that Beowulf was an epic hero that served as an example to those of his time.