Beowulf as a Hero
Hero: In mythology and legend, a man, often of divine ancestry, who is endowed with great courage and strength, celebrated for his bold exploits, and favored by the gods. A person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life. The principal male character in a novel, poem, or dramatic presentation. Beowulf is a hero of the ages. He is a seemingly invincible person with all the extraordinary traits required of a hero. He is able to use his super-human physical strength and courage to put his people before himself. He encounters hideous monsters and the most ferocious of beasts but he never fears the threat of death. He has the power of twenty men in his arm alone and his leadership skills are superb.
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. Not only can Beowulf battle with the biggest of monsters, but he can also swim for as much as seven nights, and also stop to kill nine sea creatures in the depths of the ocean. Beowulf is even 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
Another heroic trait of Beowulf is his ability to put his peoples welfare before his own. This is because of his strong belief in fate. If he dies in battle its because it is his destiny to do so. “Fate will unwind as it must! (189)” He realizes the dangers but fears nothing for his own life. This is what I believe makes Beowulf a true hero. This is where all the super-men, batmen and other such characters come from. Even after serving his people as King of the Geats for fifty years, he goes to battle in hopes (or fate) to destroy a horrible dragon who is frightening all of his people. At this point however, Beowulf is old and tired but still manages to defeat the dragon in order to protect his people.
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. (185)” 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. Even with the enormous amount of confidence Beowulf possesses, he understands that fate or wyrd 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. Well, what is fate? Webster says: “The supposed force, principle, or power that predetermines events. The inevitable events predestined by this force. A final result or consequence; an outcome.”
Beowulf is the prime example of an epic hero. His bravery and strength surpass all mortal men; loyalty and the ability to think of himself last make him cherished by all. Beowulf came openly and wholeheartedly to help the Danes which was an unusual occurrence in a time of war and widespread fear. He set a noble example for all human beings relaying the necessity of brotherhood and friendship. But with a hero like Beowulf you must ask yourself, “What happed to all the heros of the world?” Well, I once herd that, “There are still real heroes, sometimes they just get lost in the headlines.” Beowulf is most definitely an epic hero of epic proportions.
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