Beowulf is the Tale of an Epic Hero

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A hero can be defined as “a person, typically a man, who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.” Beowulf is the tale of an epic hero who is faced with many obstacles and is ultimately successful. He is the perfect archetype of what a hero should be; he develops from a youthful warrior to a valiant epic hero through his many challenges. He is able to behave fearlessly by always considering his reputation and the chance for fame and glory in mind at all times. Even throughout his testing battles, Beowulf continues to demonstrate great strength, confidence and intelligence.

Throughout the epic, Beowulf demonstrates his super-human strength through his success in every challenge he faces. According to the poem, Beowulf was, “the strongest of the Geats” (110). He makes an important statement at the beginning of the poem during his account of his swimming contest with Breca. In his dispute with Unferth, Beowulf describes the reason he lost the swimming match with his rival. He had been swimming for seven straight nights and had killed nine sea monsters along the way. During his fight with the infamous Grendel, Beowulf exhibits super-human strength by tearing his arm off during their fight, causing the enemy to run for his life. In order to be a successful warrior, one must have technique and brute tone; two things Beowulf has. Before he even defeats Grendel, he says that “when it comes to fighting, I count myself as dangerous any day as Grendel” (677-678). He does not even choose to use weapons because Grendel does not and he wants the fight to be completely equal. Also, he proceeds to ultimately behead Grendel’s mother in the muggy waters of her cave. During their fight, he is finally able to defeat her by using the massive sword that only someone as strong as him could hold. When he has her head in his hands, he brings it from the ocean to the surface with no issue, however, it takes four men to transport it back to Heorot. Beowulf’s vigor is demonstrated many times throughout the story. Beowulf is said to have “the strength of thirty men in his mighty handgrip.” He fights in countless battles and returns triumphant from all but his final one. However, towards his last minutes of life, he continues to fight the dragon and give it is all, despite being horribly injured. This is a reminder of when Beowulf claims that “if your fate hasn’t been decided yet, you can succeed through sheer nerve and courageous behavior” (39). He refuses to give up and is persistent in everything that he does. This gift is a key characteristic of Beowulf’s bravery.

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Beowulf’s strength is impressive, but it is not necessarily his most important characteristic; many of the warriors around him are strong but, without confidence, their strength is practically useless. Confidence and faith are imperative l for a hero to have. Without these, it can be said that there is no will power. Before all of his challenges, Beowulf always attempts to prepare his warriors for battle and restore their self-confidence. However, although Beowulf is very confident in the begging of the novel, it begins to change. He is very confident while fighting and defeating Grendel. Before they even met face-to-face, Beowulf knew he could defeat the monster. He can be characterized by his ego for defeating Grendel; he wanted glory for himself. Swiftly, he wins the battle and saves the entire city from the violent means of Grendel. Although he displayed great confidence with Grendel, the same mindset does not go when it comes to facing Grendel’s angry mother. This fight is vastly different than the one with Grendel. She wants revenge and for her dead son and has a reason to be angry. Because of this, he is not sure if he will survive in the end. Like Grendel’s mother, the dragon has a right to be upset; someone stole his treasure and property. Once again, Beowulf is unsure about his well-being but chooses to go-on anyways. Before the battle with the dragon when he states, “I mean to stand, not run from his shooting flames, stand till fate decides which one of us wins” (675-677). Even though fate is against him and he knows he is dying, he continues to fight with everything he has left. Even though he does die while battling with the dragon, death for a warrior is honorable, and courage must be shown through deeds, even if it means death. He is a hero who is willing to die in order to achieve fame. He must display courage in the face of overwhelming or impossible odds, and he must have the strength to back his courage. Even though Beowulf is faced with many challenges, he never gives up and values confidence. Without it, he could not be nearly as successful as he is.

Aside from being both strong and confident, Beowulf proves that he has tremendous intelligence throughout his life and in his tasks. For example, Beowulf tricks Grendel into the hall by pretending to be asleep, and lets Grendel believe he will have the upper hand since Beowulf is unarmed. When he fights Grendel, he carefully plans the encounter so that he will have an advantage over Grendel. He knows that his only chance to defeat Grendel without using a weapon is to catch him off guard, so hides inside Heorot and pretends to be asleep. When Grendel enters, he believes he will be able to catch Beowulf unaware of Beowulf’s super-human strength. This is the moment when Beowulf seizes Grendel’s arm and eventually exterminates the monster. Also, he also exhibits great cleverness in the battle with Grendel’s mother. While struggling to fight the angry monster, Beowulf looks around and “saw a blade that boded well, a sword in her armoury, an ancient heirloom from the days of the giants, and ideal weapon, one day that any warrior would envy” (1557-1560). With this great sword, he proceeds to behead her as well as Grendel’s corpse, keeping the head as a trophy. Throughout all of Beowulf’s battles, he stands brave, bold, and strongly willed to defeat whatever steps foot in his path.

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Beowulf is the Tale of an Epic Hero. (2021, Oct 25). Retrieved from

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