The Epic Hero Beowulf
The anonymously written Beowulf, is associated with an epic hero, Beowulf, enduring great feats to leave behind a legacy. He thrives as hero with strength, bravery, and a boisterous attitude. Every battle Beowulf faces is a challenge which boosts his moral and increases his popularity. Beowulf collides with three enemies, Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and a dragon all being significant in his characterization as an epic hero and the development the epic’s universal theme.
First, Beowulf encounters Grendel, a monster wreaking havoc on the Danes of Herot. His battle is significant and is the most important enemy he faces, because it begins his journey to leave behind a legacy. Beowulf defeats Grendel with ease, because of his skill and physical strength: “He twisted in pain, / And the bleeding sinews deep in his shoulder / Snapped, muscle and bone split” (374-376). His masculinity and expertise further develops the theme of Heroism being a desired quality of a warrior.
The defeat of Grendel sparks a long course towards his birthright as a hero. Second, Beowulf battles Grendel’s mother as she is set on revenge towards her son’s death. Beowulf over comes adversity and his cunning ability to think logically helps him defeat Grendel’s mother: “If weapons were useless, he’d use / Hands, the strength in his fingers” (461-462). As he becomes triumphant, Beowulf displays the characteristic of an epic hero always defeating his enemies.
Even though he was victorious, his battle with Grendel’s mother also brought out some flaws in his strength. Beowulf had to wear armor to protect himself from Grendel’s mothers blade, signifying the even an epic hero can be harmed. His battle over evil brings forth the theme of good eventually defeating evil. The conflict with Grendel and his mother is not the last obstacle Beowulf must face before he fulfills his legacy. Third, in Beowulf’s last and final battle with a dragon his bravery and devotion is displayed more the ever.
The fate of Geatland rests in his hands, because if he fails to kill the dragon it will destroy his homeland. Even though Beowulf is fifty years older as he faces the dragon his determination is not suppressed: “I fought / In endless battles. I am old, now / But I will fight again, seek fame still” (734-736). His fight with the dragon will ultimately become his last and most significant towards his legacy. As he kills the dragon he is fatally wounded ending his journey of an epic hero and forever cementing his legacy.
Through his deeds and action, Beowulf creates a legacy that follows him all the way till his death. Beowulf’s strenuous battles with Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the dragon develop characterizations of an epic hero and display many themes associated with an epic poem. Beowulf’s strength is shown through all of his conflicts with evil and makes him a more skillful warrior. His legacy is filled with heroism and great feats of victory to overcome adversity. It took Beowulf over fifty years and three great battles with monsters to fulfill his legacy.