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Beowulf Epic Hero Essay

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Analysis of Beowulf as an Epic Hero The definition of a hero from ancient times to present day has evolved greatly, but they often still possess characteristics synonymous across all cultures and timespans. In modern times, they are often thought of as role models for others to live up to, and are generally humble, honest, and not afraid to put others in front of themselves. In ancient times, more emphasis was put on strength and fearlessness, and epic heroes were often saviors of the land, sent down to Earth in its time of need by God’s hand.

Beowulf, the main character in the epic poem Beowulf, is blessed with superhuman strength, a magical weapon only he can yield, as well as a fierce sense of loyalty to his people and an obligation to protect them no matter what the cost, earning him the rank of an epic hero. It is typical of an epic hero to be born with immense strength in order to fight off demons and thus protect his people, and Beowulf is no exception. As he is fighting the beast Grendel for the first time, Beowulf manages to defeat him single-handedly with no weapons, as if Grendel never even had a chance.

From the moment Beowulf’s hands met with Grendel’s claws, the monster “Knew at once that nowhere on earth/ Had he met a man whose hands were harder” (l. 42-43). All through the battle, Beowulf kept his grip on the fiend whose jaws could snap any regular humans’ bones with a single bite, eventually ending up ripping Grendel’s arm off at the end of the skirmish. Only an epic hero could muster such a feat, and only him “…Of all the men on earth/ Was the strongest” (l. 80-81).

Although Beowulf is blessed with great strength and can fight off demons with just his bare hands, an epic hero also must have a weapon he can call his own, which is why he has a magical sword only he can use to slay the beasts that threaten his homeland. In the battle with Grendel’s mom in her underwater lair, where things are looking bleak for the legend, he spots this sword hanging on the wall, described as “hammered by the giants” making it “the best of all weapons/ but so massive no ordinary man could lift” (l. 43-245). Beowulf takes this sword off the wall with ease and slays his adversary with it, proving that he is immensely strong, as well as the only mortal that can obtain such a weapon. Even before he picked up the giant-hammered weapon, he had his own sword, Hrunting, that he used to fight his foes in previous clashes. This weapon never let him down in battles before Grendel’s mother, and whenever he would “[swing] his sword/ his ring-marked blade…/ The iron [would sing] its fierce song” (l. 04-206). The fact that Beowulf had a blade that could slay almost any enemy, and he immediately finds a better sword only he can use when that weapon let him down, confirms his worth to the Gods and his role as an epic hero. Beowulf spends most of his time battling brutes and hellions, but remember why he does risk his life to kill these monsters; to protect his people he has a fiery loyalty to, and to create a legacy that will be passed down for eternity.

As Beowulf lays dying from the fatal wounds caused by the dragon, he has some wise words to share with his companions as he beholds the dragon’s riches. In his final moments, thinking of his people he has battled all his life for, he humbly says “I give thanks/ that I behold this treasure here in front of me/ that I have been thus allowed the leave my people/ so well endowed on the day I die” (l. 412-415).

He leaves this treasure to his comrades back home, demonstrating his integrity, yet he still has one more wish before he dies. So nobody will ever forget the great Beowulf and the legacy he left behind, he tells his troops to “construct a barrow/ …on the coast” in his honor, so it will be “…a reminder among [his] people—/ so that in coming times crews under sail/ will call it Beowulf’s Barrow” (l. 419-424).

These last words truly wrap up the character of Beowulf as the courageous and loyal hero he is, knowing that his actions will have made his name memorable for ages to come. The epic poem, Beowulf, clearly demonstrates the Anglo-Saxon ideals of bravery and loyalty, which also happen to be traits that make Beowulf an epic hero, as well as possessing a magical weapon and wanting his legacy to live on.

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Although these traits were valued much more long ago, devotion, strength, and courage are still important to many of us today. This text, as it was one of the first written stories that has survived to this day, gives us an insight into what was valued back in that time period, and what people looked up to in a hero. Despite some differences, there are many similarities between the ancient Anglo-Saxon hero and the modern hero, making Beowulf relevant to this day.

Author: Allan Leider

in Beowulf

Beowulf Epic Hero Essay

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Beowulf is an Epic Hero Essay

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Every epic hero possesses certain heroic characteristics. The epic poem Beowulf describes the most heroic man of the Anglo-Saxon times. Beowulf is the hero. He shows that he is a great man by always putting other things before his own needs. He is important and needed by his people and is known by many as a strong, courageous and a helpful person. He shows all of the qualities and traits that a true hero possesses.
Beowulf, like other epic heroes, possesses the following heroic qualities: epic heroes are superhuman types of beings. They show great bravery, intelligence, strength and resourcefulness. They have a strong admiration for the values of their society. They are dominant male figures and suffer severe pain, but in the end, they…show more content…

This shows Beowulf’s strength, courage and fearlessness. Through this it is evident that he possess courageous traits.
Beowulf’s strength is exemplified many times in the story. Beowulf was said to have “the strength of thirty men in his mighty handgrip.” He fought in numerous battles and returned victorious from all but his last. In his argument with Unferth, Beowulf explains the reason he lost a swimming match with his opponent Brecca. Not only had Beowulf been swimming for seven nights, he had also stopped to kill nine sea creatures in the depths of the ocean. Beowulf is also strong enough to kill the monster Grendel with his bare hands by ripping off his arm. When Beowulf is fighting Grendel’s mother, he is able to slay her by slashing the monster’s neck with a giant sword that can only be lifted by a person as strong as Beowulf. When he chops off her head, he carries it from the ocean with no difficulty, but it takes four men to lift and carry it back to Heorot. This strength is a key trait of Beowulf’s heroism.
Another heroic trait of Beowulf is his ability to put his people’s welfare before his own. Beowulf’s uncle is king of the Geats so he is sent to help kill Grendel. His actions toward Grendel show that he is willing to help others. In an epic it is usually found that the hero often determines the fate of a nation or group of people. He uses his super-human physical strength

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