Beowulf 19 Essay, Research Paper
A hero has been defined differently as time has progressed. Depending on the situation and the culture, a hero can range from someone who does deeds of the heart to a savior with enormous strength. In the times of Beowulf in the ancient Anglo-Saxon times the hero was a strong, courageous, and valiant person who would do anything to prove that. Anglo-Saxon heroes lived a life of adventure where they sought out challenges to prove that they were strong and worthy of the honors due to them by others. Beowulf fits this profile of an Anglo-Saxon hero in every way.
Beowulf is the prototypical hero for a society that values above all else a strong person in character and body. His external image is of a muscular soldier, with the strength of no other person. He swears to kill Grendel, the monster who has killed many of Hrothgar s men, with his bare hands. It would bring shame on him if, as he says, “I let my sword go where my feet were afraid to.” (line 170) He not only must be strong in body but he must be willing to use this strength to prove to his king and to others that he is the man he claims to be.
Physical strength and honor are not the only things that make a hero in the eyes of the Anglo-Saxons. Beowulf was also an example of a man with the strength of mind and character to fight make others believe what was said about him. He did not stand disrespect from others, but at the same time did not feel the need to start a fight over it. Instead he took a calm and superior approach, as with everything a hero faces. When criticized by Unferth, Beowulf replies using his intellect and states, “Neither he nor you can match me and I mean no boast, have announced no more than I know to be true.” (line 319) So once again Beowulf shows that he is above others. If anything the hero of the Anglo-Saxons lore is never below anyone else. No matter what happens they keep their honor and wits about them. Nothing can get them down.
Not only has Beowulf been shown to be courageous in battle with utterly evil enemies, but he is also a thoughtful and intelligent warrior who chooses his fights well. Through his intelligence he also finds that he is able to live through many skirmishes and becomes a king of great influence. To the end a hero remains the same, but this can also be a flaw as much as a strength. Beowulf is an epic hero. He is a hero with a flaw. Anglo-Saxons must have also had a keen sense of the way time affects each other. They write into the story that even throughout the years Beowulf is still a great hero and in the end he goes to fight a great dragon. Again he wishes to fight it with nothing but his bare hands, but his intelligence tells him that this will not get him anywhere. He means to, “stand till fate decides” (line 676)
Beowulf fits the role of a Anglo-Saxon hero as with his many bold characteristics and also his glaring flaws. He is the perfect specimen of a superior and strong man. In the end thought his boastful, courageous life would get him killed. He died, “A beaten warrior. None of his comrades came to him.” (line 746) He had his flaws and eventually it killed him.
Beowulf was a hero of his times. He was physically and mentally strong. His intelligence kept him alive more than one time. In the end though his strength of body failed him and his courage and valor could not save his life. For in he end he was just a man. With all of the characteristics that a hero embodies, he was realistically portrayed as just a man. He fit the hero mold but was also a person that was believable.