Heroic Characterisitcs of Beowulf
Beowulf is a great warrior who crosses the sea to aid Danes. He has many qualities of a hero. These qualities he has shows in everything he does, such as courage, confidence, determination, and superhuman strength. Although he has those qualities the most important thing about him is the fact that his victory is more valuable to him than any treasure.
I. Beowulf’s Confidence
Beowulf, Higlaf’s follower and stronger than anyone anywhere in the world, heard about how Grendel, a powerful evil monster, was terrorizing Hrothgar’s kingdom. So he sailed out across the sea to Hrothgar’s kingdom, taking 14 of the mightiest men he could find with him. When Beowulf arrives he assures Hrothgar he will slay Grendel for him. “My lord Higlac might think less of me if I let my sword go where my feet were afraid to” (169). Beowulf explains to Hrothgar why and how he will slay Grendel with no weapon. He tells the people if he is killed then it is because that’s what God wanted for him. His confidence helped the people believe in him.
II. Beowulf’s Superhuman Strength
“Grendel snatched at the first Geat he came to rip him apart, out of his body to bits with powerful jaws, drank the blood from his veins and bolted him down hands and feet; death and Grendel’s great teeth came together snapping life shut (262).” He then stepped to Beowulf and clutched at him and was instantly seized, bending Grendel’s claws back. At this moment the shepherd of evil had now met a man whose hands were harder.
Grendel and Beowulf battled across the halls. All of Beowulf’s soldiers had jumped from their beds raising their swords, ready to protect their prince. They took a hack at Grendel from every side but could not hurt him. Beowulf began tearing at his hand, using his strength to rip his arm away. The monster escaped in excruciating pain to die in the bottom of his pit. The battle was over and Beowulf had been granted new glory.
III. Beowulf’s Determination
“Where the Danes slept as though already dead; her visit ended their good fortune, reversed. No female, no matter how fierce, could have come with a man’s strength, she fought with power and courage men fight with, smashing their shining sword, slashing and stabbing the sharpest of points (358).” Grendel’s mother came to avenge her only son’s death, taking the kings closest friend he loved most. Sorrow then returned to Denmark, the kingdom. The monsters and Danes had traded deaths, no one had won.
Waiting for no one’s answer, Beowulf jumped into the lake, where the monsters lived. Swimming for hours he was determined to slay the she-wolf who ruled the underworld for years, Grendel’s mother. They began their battle, he threw her to the floor but she rose and began holding him down. She squatted over him holding a dagger above his chest and stabbed him but the linked chains in his shirt protected him. Now angry, Beowulf recovered to his feet and retrieved a sword, hammered by giants, and sliced her neck with it, killing her. Leaving all of the underworld’s treasures behind, Beowulf took Grendal’s head, the hilt of the sword, and most importantly his victory.
IV. Beowulf’s Courage
Beowulf now reigned as king for 50 years. One day a fire breathing dragon that had been guarding a treasure for hundreds of years is disrupted by a thief. The dragon began terrorizing the geats. Now the very old Beowulf takes on the challenge of slaying him. “I feel no shame, with shield and sword and armor against this monster; when he comes to me I mean to stand not run from his shooting flames, stand till fate decides which of us wins (613).”
Beowulf, still strong and still brave, strode with courage toward the tower under the rocky cliff. No coward could have walked there. Beowulf’s sword was waiting as the dragon came quickly toward him pouring out fire and smoke. As Beowulf fell back, it’s breath flared over him, wrapping the swirling flames around him. A king once before was now a defeated soldier.
Beowulf was a very respected and loved hero and king. His heroic characteristics helped him kill Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and become king. He even gave his life to slay a dragon threatening his kingdom. His followers mourned their beloved leader, crying that no better king had ever lived.