The characterization of Beowulf The Epic Poem Beowulf tells the tale of a legendary violin warrior after whom the epic is named. In the Viking world of Beowulf, ones identity is very important. Nearly every character is introduced not only by their name, but also by his or her deeds and lineage. Although Beowulf, the hero of this poem, had been “Poorly regarded for a long time (2183) ” by his people, we can see throughout the tale that he hopes to establish himself as a legendary warrior of great fame and repute.
Through reading this tale, one can determine that he very effectively accomplishes this. His bravery, skill, and prowess are constantly highlighted through the praise of others, tales of his past deeds, and boasts which he claims of himself. One of the key ways In which we are able to Identify Beowulf character Is through other people’s perception of him. When we first meet Beowulf, he is arriving on the shores of Horror with his fighting men. He is greeted by a guard who, though unaware of who Beowulf is or why he has traveled to Horror, claims “[Never] have I en a mightier man.. N this earth” and “He [Beowulf] Is truly noble (247-252! ‘ When we look at this very first impression of Beowulf recorded in the literature, we see that though he is not well known in the land, he carries such an intense prowess about him that his legendary Identity is obvious to nearly anyone. A second instance in which we see Beowulf Identity through another’s observation of him comes after he has completed his heroic task In Horror. Beowulf Is frequently praised by people throughout the land.
Perhaps no praise, however, carries as much as the one given him by the king of the land, Campbell -2 Warthogs. “Beowulf, my friend, your fame has gone far and wide, you are known everywhere (1702-bib” claims Warthogs in his lengthy speech to Beowulf. This adulation. Coming from a king, Is much more weighty than It would be If It were to come from a peasant or bard. The fact that Beowulf is highly regarded not only by citizens, but also by royalty shows readers that his identity truly is as a legendary warrior.
A second way In which Beowulf Identity Is revealed to readers Is through his actions. His actions speak, perhaps louder than any words, in support of his status as a legendary warrior. Beowulf accomplishes impossible feats time and time again which cannot be mitigated no matter how they are perceived or described by others. One seemingly impossible feat executed by Beowulf Is described In his Journey to fight Grenade’s mother. On this Journey, Beowulf dove down Into a mere (lake) for “The best part of a day, before he [saw] the solid bottom. No ordinary man could OFF possibly hold his breath tort an entire day, let alone nave the energy to swim that deep. Because this is a feat which seemingly no other man could achieve, it adds credibility to Beowulf identity as a legendary warrior. This is only one specific example of a flurry of other superhuman tasks which Beowulf accomplishes throughout the course of this epic. Because Beowulf can do many things which any other man simply could not do, he is easily identified as legendary in his world.
A third, and perhaps most important way in which Beowulf identity is characterized s through the overwhelming boasts which Beowulf claims for himself. When Beowulf is introducing himself, he uses boasts to define his identity, proudly claiming how he is “The strongest swimmer of them all (534)” proclaiming how he had slain many sea monsters and other powerful foes (559-563). This confidence in himself and past accomplishments gives Beowulf Campbell – 3 the courage to continually face overwhelming odds, due to his absolute conviction in his identity as a legendary warrior.
Frequently, when he is faced with adversity, Beowulf is not only confident beyond measure that he is up to the task at hand, but also makes seemingly ludicrous claims about how he will go about conquering his enemy before the battle even begins. One prime example of a seemingly-haughty boast made by Beowulf is found in the claims he makes prior to fighting Greened, a devastating and feared demon. Beowulf claims not only that he will destroy this demon, but also that he will do so on his own, without the aid of sword or shield, simply to “Heighten [His Kings] name (435).
Although it seems insane that Beowulf could achieve such a feat, he accomplished this with ease, and proved himself justified in his boasts. Beowulf boasts are important not only because they help us see what kind of character he is, but also because they help Beowulf establish his own sense of identity. Because of his firm conviction in his own abilities, time and time again he proves to himself, and everyone else around him that he will do whatever he says he can do. This, more than anything else, clearly establishes Beowulf identity.