Beowulf, the Hero
The epic poem Beowulf, which was told from generation to generation honoring modern Anglo-Saxon beliefs, describes a heroic man who saves a village in their time of need. By definition a hero is a man of exceptional quality. Exceptional quality doesnt even begin to describe the man that is Beowulf. Beowulf has many heroic characteristics from his super human strength to victoriously slaying monsters and other ferocious beasts. He has excellent leadership skills and commonly boasts of his achievements. Beowulf emerges as the true Anglo Saxon hero; who risks his life for the lives and well being of
Others perceive Beowulf as a hero through his physical strength and stories of his glorious feats. Through all of the battles Beowulf fought he lost only two, and his last defeat would be the death of him. The first battle Beowulf lost was his competition with Breca. Unferth was an unbeliever of the strength and determination of Beowulf. Unferth taunted Beowulf one night only to be, in return, taunted back. “Are you the Beowulf that strove with Brecarisking your lives on the lonely deepof ocean swimming with out-streched armswith plowing shoulders parted the wavesseven nights you toiled in the tossing seahis strength was the greater, his swimming the stronger!” (389-400). As Beowulf explained in his feud with Unferth, “We gripped in our hands naked swords, as we swam the waves, guarding us from the whales assaultfreezing squalls, and the falling nightdown to the bottom a savage sea beast fiercely dragged meand so I was granted to slay with the sword edge nine of the nicors” (413-443). Basically Beowulf is trying to explain that the only reason he lost to Breca was because he had been swimming for seven days straight and he stopped along the way to kill nine sea creatures to make it easier for other travelers of the sea to get by. This was one of the first heroic acts Beowulf preformed. Through the eyes of an Anglo Saxon, Beowulf saved them from having to deal
with the sea creatures, because the sea plays a major role in the life of the Anglo Saxons.
Beowulf came to rescue the Anglo Saxons from a ferocious monster who was terrorizing their town. Beowulfs uncle is king of the Geats and so he is sent as an emissary to help rid the Danes of this monster, Grendel. “They called him Grendel, a demon grim haunting the fen lands, holding the moors ranging the wastes where the wretched wight made his lair with the monster kin” (61-64). Grendel was a monster who was terrorizing the town and killing many people. The first night that Grendel struck he killed 30 men. Beowulf was the only man who had the strength to kill a monster as vicious as Grendel. Beowulf had the strength of 30 men in his grip and used this to kill the monster. “Of living strong men he was the strongest” (Beowulf) (132). After he killed Grendel, Grendels mother became a threat to the town. She killed one of the Danish Kings nobel men. But like the hero that Beowulf was he didnt hesitate to go out and kill Grendels mother to ensure that there would be no more problems for the Danes.
One of the most heroic traits that Beowulf has is his fearlessness. Beowulf showed no signs of fear when he went into battle. He never looked back and he always accomplished what he set out to do. After his feats with Grendel, Beowulf was later crowned King of the Danes. During his reign as King a “fire drake” (1374) began to destroy the town that Beowulf built. In his last battle Beowulf sought out to rid the town once again of its villain. However, when he set out for battle he never looked back, he knew he was going against a horrific creature but it did not phase him. He took the life of
yet another monster, but at the same time he took his own. “Bemoaned the fall of their mighty lord; said he was the kindest of worldly kings, mildest, most gentle, most eager for fame.” (1895-1896).
Beowulf carries the traits of a hero. His bravery and physical strength account for more than any other man. Beowulf left his home land to help complete strangers in their time of need, and he produced. Not only did he victoriously slay one beast, but 3 of the most ferocious, vicious beasts that the Danes had ever scene. Beowulf risked his life for the life of others, and he was victorious. He was heroic in every aspect.
*Direct quotes from Beowulf are (with the lines) from start to finish.