It seems as though humanity is fixed on one form of what and how a hero ought to be. The epic hero is the central figure in a long narrative that reflects the values and heroic ideals of a particular society. Beowulf is an illustration of this in most aspects because he fought for the common good, had a superhuman trait of strength in his hands, and showed tremendous courage and bravery when entering a battle despite death might win in the end. Beowulf shows throughout the poem that his actions are in no way selfish. John D.
Niles states in The Fatal Contradiction in Beowulf (94), “Before the fight he declares himself willing to accept whatever outcome the lord see fit to grant. ” This shows that Beowulf does not fight to win personal glory; he did it for his people. A quality an epic hero should acquire. Beowulf was proud to know he pleased his people by defeating Grendel and later on Grendel’s mother. He goes on to show throughout the poem that he will defend the Geat’s at all costs. Bernard F. Huppe suggests that Beowulf is in fact far from a true hero.
He states in The Failure of the Heroic Ideal (82), “Beowulf’s behavior from beginning to end is governed by the ethic of vengeance and the desire for glory. ” It’s apparent that this is not exact because it’s proven that Beowulf chose to fight alone so the fight would be equal. He knew the potential outcome, death. Epic heroes don’t naturally fight with an army or side by side a friend, they take on their challenger alone. Beowulf chose to conquer a number of villains by his own hand to ensure the Geats would remain in peace.
When we think of heroes, we automatically think of superpowers and extravagant nylon suits with capes and gadgets. Like Superman and Spiderman, modern day examples of heroes, Beowulf contained an almost superhuman like quality. He had an ultimate strength in his hands. In his battle with Grendel, Beowulf fought with no weapons to equal the fight and to show the meaning of true defeat without it being all for his glory. He killed Grendel and put Hrothgar and his people at ease. They saw Beowulf as a true hero as well. Beowulf is definitely an epic hero.
He fought for his people to the death and defeated numerous monsters. He was aware of his responsibility as a king to do whatever it took to protect the Geat’s. Beowulf is a ferocious warrior with no tragic flaws who died for his people. Like John D. Niles states, “If the behavior of anyone in the poem is to be considered irresponsible and impractical, it is that of the Geat’s, who’s failure to live by the heroic ideal proves to be impractical in the extreme, even to the point of leading to their ruin as soon as they no longer have a hero to protect them. ” This is a ideal example of why Beowulf is a true epic hero.