"A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself." In other words, to be considered a hero, one must time and time again risk and ultimately sacrifice his or her life to a greater cause. In the epic poem Beowulf, the main character of Beowulf risks his life in his battles with Grendel and Grendel's mother, and ultimately sacrifices his life to the dragon for the good of his people. Beowulf's heroic sacrifice of his life proves the critical lens.
In Beowulf's battle with Grendel, he risks his life in order to pay off a debt that his father had owed to the Danes. This is a mark of true heroism, as Beowulf, a Geat, was risking his life to save people who were not even his own. Beowulf's conflict with Grendel was nearly selfless, although he did enjoy the fame and reward that followed Grendel's defeat. He risked his life for what he felt was the good the people, and for the honor of his father. When Beowulf comes to Heorot, he is well aware of the danger he is facing; no one had ever defeated Grendel before, and he had killed many Danes. When he does finally come face to face with this hideous monster, he fights with courage and determination, and never once retreats or fears for his own life. This shows that his intentions in fighting were for something greater than himself; he felt that the lives and safety of those in Heorot were more important than his own personal safety, and he was willing to risk his own life in order to protect them.
When Beowulf battles Grendel's mother, he is once again potentially jeopardizing his own life for a cause greater than himself. The mood of this battle is altered slightly; this scene holds far more tension, as Grendel's mother is fighting not just for the sake of fighting, as Grendel had, but in order to avenge the death of her child. This battle also differs from the one with Grendel in that it takes place in Grendel's mother's lair, an unknown terrain for Beowulf that puts him...
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