Generosity in Beowulf
As people mention the virtue, generosity, they always conceive of an image of a wealthy philanthropist who donates his money to people in need. However, in my opinion, the concept of generosity exceeds the narrow connotation of giving to others, and not only can rich people become generous; rather, generosity comprises of empathy to share others’ feelings, magnanimous tolerance towards other people, and returning to them with kindness. In the well-renowned epic Beowulf, the main character shows to people an ideal demonstration of generosity in life.
When Beowulf heard about the destructions that Grendel had caused in Denmark, regardless of possible danger to him, he made up his mind resolutely to sail all the way to the Danish land and help the poor people under Hrothgar. As the text goes, “Beowulf chose the mightiest men he could find/ the bravest and best of the Geats, fourteen/ in all, and led them down to their boat. ” (206-208) At this time, he shouldered the same suffering as did the Danes, and offered to kill the monster as if the problem was his own. This simple and ready availability to help illustrates a bounteous figure.
On the first night Beowulf spent in Denmark, Unferth, an anti-hero as well as a coward, challenged Beowulf’s power for accusing him of losing the swimming contest with Brecca. As the text states, “your luck may change if you challenge Grendel/ Staying a whole night through in this hall/ Waiting where that fiercest of demons can find you. ” (526-528) Beowulf returned this harsh and malevolent criticism with great magnanimity. Despite the embarrassment Beowulf experienced from Unferth, he still fought and eventually killed Grendel with great valor, demonstrating to the Danes his ability as well as tolerance.
Not only did Beowulf represent a figure of generosity, but other characters, such as Wiglaf, also exemplified selflessness to readers. It says in the text, “As when Beowulf needed him most Wiglaf showed his courage, his strength and skill, and the boldness he was born with. ” (2694-2696) When Wiglaf’s king got in trouble while fighting the fire dragon, comitatus led Wiglaf to rush to the side of Beowulf and faced to the ferocious dragon bravely even though he had never fought before. From cover to cover, Beowulf illustrates the theme of generosity to us.
In the contemporary world, deeds of Mother Teresa in Calcutta epitomized magnanimity perfectly. As a Catholic charity missionary, Mother Teresa lived a life far from rich. Instead of donating money to poor people in India, she manifested her generosity by living with “the poorest among the poor”. Opening a home for those suffering from Hansen’s disease, commonly known as leprosy, Mother Teresa provided medication, bandages and food to sick and needy people without any monetary payback.
She also lived with the patients so whenever they needed help, they had Mother Teresa right by their side. Nevertheless, the sick people wondered why she helped them selflessly and believed that she was a fraud. Frustrated by the responses from patients, Mother Teresa believed that poverty led people to distrust others, and therefore she should even provide more welcoming and warm hospitality to the poor. Her presence in India enlightened the lives of all poor people she had helped.
This simply readiness to help and willingness to partake the pain of suffering ones tremendously surpass the traditional monetary donation as a manifestation of generosity. Personally, I regard my parents as exceptionally generous people because they would never count the cost they spend on me and no matter in what kind of attitude I treat them, they would always return to me with the most amiable possible way. As the only child in my family, I immersed myself into too much coddling and sometimes I could not control my temper in front of my parents.
One time I lost my tennis game against one of my best friends in middle school, I got into a very bad mood. Trying to cheer me up, my parents stayed with me and bought me my favorite food, but I, spoiled and immature then, got strongly annoyed and questioned them why they bought things for celebration when I lost my match. Apparently, my manner to my parents deserved harsh criticism, but instead of emphasizing my horrible temper, my parents talked more about how they understood my awful feeling and how I ought to face temporary troughs in life.
Gradually they brought me out of the gloom and I started to appreciate all they had done for me. Their tolerance and empathy to me caused me to regard them as the most generous people around me. In my opinion, I regard myself as a generous person since I would like to share other people’s feelings and help them out of the predicaments. When Steven Ha ripped his ligament in his ankle last weekend, I told him that I would be available whenever he needed help. Also, I helped him carry his backpack and open doors.
Even though we cannot compare those actions to an immense monetary donation, they still belong to the category of generosity, compassion and readiness to help. According to my own definition, generosity contains empathy towards others, tolerance and returning kindness to a foe. Personally, I want to become a successful businessman highly involved in philanthropy, so my idea fits into my planning of life in that I could express my compassion to poor by providing the assistance they need.