Sample Essay on Beowulf The epic story of Beowulf depicts a young man destined to find his place in Anglo-Saxon society as a hero, the deliverer of his people. Set out from his youth, Beowulf was enthralled, perhaps obsessed, with the idea of fame and accomplishment. His thirst for both fueled the remainder of his life as a leader amongst leaders and a true hero in the entire sense of the term. Finally, the tale concludes with the true mark of a hero, the ability to pass the torch on to a younger generation to which he has offered guidance, wisdom, and experience under his wing.
Beowulf truly does deliver his people to their destiny and ensures that this destiny remains for years to come after his departure. Unlike most heroes in literature that are often portrayed as having humble beginnings, Beowulf’s youth is relatively fortunate and comfortable. Nevertheless, Beowulf’s obvious passion to achieve the Anglo-Saxon value of fame and honor is unwavering and will lead him to his eventual fate. Beowulf is singled out early as a “superior being” amongst his peers. “[…] Beowulf, Higlac’s/ Follower and the strongest of the Geats—stronger than anyone anywhere in this world—[…]”(ll. 09-111) This distinction that he was of superior physical capabilities quickly led Beowulf to develop and inherit a superior mental capacity, one filled with an ability to lead and an aura of pompousness that he took with him to battle and amongst his people. This is demonstrated when the tale explains, “Beowulf arose with his men/ Around him, ordering a few to remain/ With their weapons, leading the others quickly[…]” (ll. 134-136) Beowulf’s leadership is characteristic of a true hero and one whom will continue on to deliver his people.
Beowulf’s true talent was best displayed in the various competitions and battles he engaged in throughout his famed tale. His unwavering confidence and perhaps boastful personality struck not only fear but also awe and inspiration into the hearts and minds of his people. “My hands/ Alone shall fight for me, struggle for life/ Against the monster,”(ll. 172-174) Beowulf boldly claimed as he prepared to confront Grendel in battle. Beowulf’s audacity is exemplified through this and many acts of uncontrollable valor and courage. Thus is the root of his people’s admiration and their desire to follow in his ways and under his guidance.
As if this was not enough to remind the people of Beowulf’s accomplishments and feats, Beowulf was compelled to ensure his status and society and seal his place in fame. “The victory, for the proof, hanging high/ From the rafters where Beowulf had hung it, was the monster’s/ Arm, claw, and shoulder and all. ” (ll. 515-517) Beowulf, through the actions, accomplishments, and everlasting pursuit of his dream of fame, gained the respect of his people and prepared himself for true kingly status and to gain the recognition as the deliverer of his people.
Perhaps the greatest mark of a hero is his or her ability to not only lead a life of good deeds and tremendous feats, but also to train and educate the youth in order for his or her society to perpetuate. Beowulf’s character is certainly one to do this and thus is the reason he may be dubbed a deliverer. Beowulf makes a significant impact upon his followers, in particular the soldiers he had chosen to be with him. One in particular, Wiglaf, makes a spirited speech amongst his fellow soldiers as Beowulf has gone off to fight without their aide. In this address Wiglaf declares, “ ‘Our glorious king!
By almighty G-d,/ I’d rather burn myself than see/ Flames swirling around my lord. ” (ll. 780-782) Such a comment makes one question how much of an impact they can truly have on their peers. To have such awe inspiring powers so as to gain the trust and respect of your men to the extent that they would indeed take greater pleasure in their deaths than that of their own is truly incredible. This is the recognition point for the reader in which he or she can truly tell that Beowulf has delivered his people into a new generation. In the final crowning moment of any life, one can only wish for a companion to pass on his or her legacy.
Such a characteristic is inherit in the life of hero, and this is no different than the end of Beowulf’s life. “[…]telling stories/ Of their [soldiers] dead king and his greatness, his glory,/ Praising him for his heroic deeds, for a life/ As noble as his name. ” Not only had Beowulf become a figure of fame in his life, but he had obtained the ultimate fame: Beowulf had become a legend, and, in that, Beowulf would forever continue to teach his lessons and to demonstrate his talent for generations to come as he had successfully delivered his people, the Geats.