Beowulf And Hero Characterists Essay, Research Paper
The epic poem Beowulf describes the most heroic man of the Anglo-Saxon times. Beowulf is a hero in the eyes of his fellow men through his amazing physical strength. He is able to use his super-human physical strength and courage to put his people before himself. He encounters hideous monsters and the most ferocious of beasts but he never fears the threat of death. His leadership skills are superb and he is even able to boast about all his achievements. Beowulf is the ultimate epic hero who risks his life countless times for immortal glory and for the good of others. He is a seemingly invincible person with all the extraordinary traits required of a hero. These traits have changed and evolved into what are now the beliefs of heroism today. These beliefs are different in many ways but have a common aim: to strength, the ability to put others before yourself, and everlasting glory.
Beowulf fought in numerous battles and returned victorious from all but his last. In his argument with Unferth, Beowulf explains the reason he “lost” a simple swimming match with his youthful opponent Brecca, was because he had not only 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, who has been terrorizing the Danes for twelve years, with his bare hands by ripping off his arm. When Beowulf is fighting Grendel’s mother, who is seeking revenge on her son’s death, he is able to slay her by slashing the monster’s neck with a Giant’s 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 ease, but it takes four men to lift and carry it back to Herot mead-hall. This strength is a key trait of Beowulf’s heroism. The strength of ‘heroes’ in today society is based more on power of authority or mass of money. To be powerful you must be in charge of something important, or own it. Not many people are remembered as hero for being able to toss steel kegs over a wall. (The World’s Strongest Man Competitions.) On the other hand someone who owns a computer software program (Microsoft) will never be forgotten. Strength is seen as the capability to excel above the rest in an area where others have failed, or to do what has not been done yet.
Another heroic trait of Beowulf is his ability to put his people’s welfare before his own. Beowulf risks his own life for the Danes, asking help from no one. He realizes the dangers but fears nothing for his own life. After Beowulf had served his people as King of the Geats for fifty years, he goes to battle one last time to fight a horrible dragon that is frightening all of his people. Beowulf is old and tired but he defeats the dragon in order to protect his people. Even in death he wished to secure safety for the Geats, so a tall lighthouse is built in order to help the people find there way back from sea. Today, people who contribute to their society are seen as heroes. Charities and other organization have been in a heroic effort to help those in need. Mother Theresa helped me and always put others ahead of herself, with that known she will live on through others as a hero. Princess Diana will also be remembered by way of her accomplishments, and charitable way of life.
The most heroic of traits within Beowulf is that he is not afraid to die. He always explains his death wishes before going into battle and requests to have any assets delivered to his people. “And if death does take me, send the hammered mail of my armor to Higlac, return the inheritance I had from Hrehtel, and from Wayland. Fate will unwind as it must!” He knows that when he fights an enemy like Grendel or Grendel’s mother he will achieve immortality as the victor or the loser. “When we crossed the sea, my comrades and I, I already knew that all my purpose was this: to win the good will of your people or die in battle, pressed in Grendel’s fierce grip.
Let me live in greatness and courage, or here in this hall welcome my death!” Even with the enormous amount of confidence Beowulf possesses, he understands that fate or “wryd” will work its magic no matter what, and he could be killed at any point in his life. He faces that reality by showing no fear in preparing for a positive or a fatal outcome. The fear of dying today is related more to a joy of living for the day. Sometimes a person is perceived as a hero for the way they live or make a living. Mark McGwire is often received as a hero for the fact that he has made his living doing something he loves so much (baseball), and he realizes his rare opportunity to excel. Many heroes now, and in our history have been recognized for their valiant fights for our country. The soldiers, who fight, risk their lives for their country and its people. A modern soldier is a close comparison to the epic Beowulf, aside from the fantastic inhuman strength Beowulf possess.
The only way to experience life after death was to live on in the memories of others. One could fulfill this goal by being known for one’s strength, generosity, and courage. Beowulf is the prime example of an epic hero. His bravery and strength surpass all mortal men; loyalty and the ability to think of himself last makes him revered by all. Beowulf came openly and wholeheartedly to help the Danes which was an unusual occurrence in a time of war and widespread fear. He set a noble example for all human beings relaying the necessity of brotherhood and friendship. The word “hero” is seemingly thrown around today. A true hero possesses the traits of strength, generosity, and courage. The definition of hero changes through the times, but it remains that once named a hero you live on through the times.