Beowulf Is the Perfect Example of a Perfect Hero
In the epic of Beowulf, Beowulf displays various heroic traits throughout the poem. Beowulf, throughout the story demonstrates his heroic ways by protecting the town. From the very beginning, Beowulf takes up a leadership role among his peers. With his tremendous ego, overwhelming confidence, and extraordinary bravery, Beowulf seems to be second-to-none when it comes to leading a group of people. He enters numerous confrontations, such as the one with Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the demonic dragon at the end of poem.
Throughout each of the battles, Beowulf demonstrated his unflawed characters every step of the way. Despite the conflicts that he faces, Beowulf displays all of the correct traits that make him the ideal epic hero. When Beowulf arrives in King Hrothgar’s kingdom, it is immediately evident that Beowulf has a tremendously large ego and very sure of himself in every regard. When in the hall with King Hrothgar and his men, Beowulf is boasting about his past accomplishments. Although it may seem like a cocky and over-confident thing to do, the Anglo-Saxon traditions regard it as being prideful.
To boast is a way of establishing one’s greatness and is encouraged as a way to spread renown. As Beowulf continues to boast, Unferth, a jealous warrior, begins to ridicule Beowulf about a contest he had lost in the past. Beowulf responds by saying: “The fact is, Unferth, if you were truly as keen and courageous as you claim to be Grendel would never have got away with such unchecked atrocity. ” Beowulf then continues by simply telling his side of the story, which reveals that he had fought numerous monsters and made the seas safe for fishermen before he finished the contest.
This makes Beowulf an even greater hero as he is able to belittle a warrior who is showing disrespect while further growing his own reputation. Beowulf’s confidence is another one of the main traits that made him the epic hero that he is. At the beginning of the epic, the horrible creature, Grendel begins to attack the men of the town. Grendel was much more powerful and fierce than any other person. That was until Beowulf stepped in and decided to fight the horrible creature. During the encounter however, Beowulf elected not to use any type of weapon.
Although a sword was readily available for Beowulf’s use, he decided to fight the mighty Grendel with his bare hands. It is explained that no weapon was of affect on Grendel’s robust self, but since it had not been tried before, one would think a weapon would be able to pierce through a beast’s skin, thus taking away Grendel’s life. However, Beowulf’s ego was so immense that he decided not to utilize a weapon of any nature. Beowulf’s previous victorious battle experiences led him to believe that his power with a sword would definitely be sufficient enough to kill Grendel, but Beowulf wanted it to be a fair fight.
Since Grendel was not using a weapon, Beowulf also chose not to use to one. After ripping off Grendel’s arm during the great battle, Beowulf becomes successful in the fight. As Grendel retreats away from the Mead Hall and dies, Beowulf takes the severed arm and hangs the monster’s arm and claw over the rafters of Hrothgar’s Great Hall. This act is a further example of Beowulf’s tremendous ego and confidence. The victory boosts Beowulf’s confidence through the roof and makes him believe that he is invulnerable to anything that stands in his path.
Beowulf begins to truly believe that he is indestructible. On top of Beowulf’s super-human ego and confidence, bravery is one of the key traits of Beowulf’s epic heroism. Upon the defeat of Grendel, another problem arises in the kingdom. Grendel’s mother, angered by her son’s defeat, decides to begin attacking the kingdom herself in a furious tirade. As the attack commences, other warriors from the kingdom launch a counter-attack and cause Grendel’s mother to retreat back to her underwater lair. Before retreating however, Grendel’s mother kidnaps Aeschere who happens to be Hrothgar’s trusted advisor.
Upon hearing the news of Aeschere’s kidnapping, Beowulf springs into action without hesitation. By deciding to follow Grendel’s mother back to her lair to not only save the kings advisor, but to slay Grendel’s mother as well, Beowulf displays his uncanny wit to pursue an enemy without fear or concern for his own well-being. He swim to the bottom of the underwater lair and battled the mighty creature. After a long fight, Beowulf emerges victorious and returns to Herot with the head of the beast. During the fight, Beowulf extensively exemplified his bravery.
The cave, as it turned out to be, was enchanted and rendered all of Beowulf’s weapons useless. However, without panicking or losing his collectedness, Beowulf maintained fearless and remained focused. He eventually found a “magical” sword in which he used to behead Grendel’s mother. When faced with turmoil, Beowulf hung onto his bravery and became victorious. Instances showing Beowulf’s superhuman strength are regularly repeated throughout the poem and are important when contributing to his epic heroism. Each of the examples not only describe Beowulf’s feat, but also mention how no other single man could complete the task.
During the battle with Grendel, other Geats leap to Beowulf’s aid, but their weapons are useless against Grendel’s tough hide and devious spells that “blunted every mortal man’s blade. ” Despite this overwhelming conflict, Beowulf still manages to rip Grendel’s arm off at the shoulder, using only his hands and beastly strength. A second strong example of his super-human strength comes during his battle with Grendel’s mother. After the enchantments rendered his weapons useless, Beowulf discovers the “magical” sword that he is able to use to kill her.
The poem describes this sword as “so massive that no ordinary man could lift its carved and decorated length. ” Not only does Beowulf manage to lift it from the wall, he also manages to swing it hard enough to cut off Grendel’s mother’s head with it. Lastly, but certainly not least, a third example of his superhuman strength comes when Beowulf makes the presentation of Grendel’s head to Hrothgar and the Danes. After killing Grendel’s mother, Beowulf was still filled with rage over the killings in the Mead Hall.
Eventually he decides after the body of the already deceased Grendel and cut off his head with the giant-forged sword. Although it took four men to carry the head on spears back to Herot, Beowulf single-handedly tossed the head down on the table. Beowulf’s super-human strength is one of the key factors that make him an epic hero. Without his strength, his ability as a warrior would not be as great and his leadership would be more challenged. Another big characteristic that makes Beowulf an epic hero is his pride. The importance of pride is very relevant in Beowulf’s life.
Its an issue of “supernal importance”. Beowulf had Grendel in his hands, but no matter how strong Beowulf was, the demon escaped missing only an arm. Grendel would soon die in his lair because of blood loss, but Beowulf was unhappy that he could not stretch Grendel’s body on the floor. Even though Beowulf had done enough damage to take down the beast, he was still angry at the fact that he was not able to present the body to his fellow peers. This is a big example of Beowulf’s overwhelming pride. The Anglo-Saxons believed that pride was a measure of one’s success in life.
Warriors who were victorious in battle were prideful due to their achievements. The strongest and most successful warriors were even elected leader. Since the leaders were the best of the best, they were the most prideful men of the time. This Anglo-Saxon passion for pride is seen throughout Beowulf. The battle with the monster results in the inflation of Beowulf’s pride and his renown as a warrior. Since Beowulf defeated a monster that no other man could kill, Beowulf is immediately heralded as a hero. Beowulf’s pride and respect both drastically increase after his fight with Grendel.