Beowulf and His Virtues

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Beowulf: A Moral Man Amongst Men

Morality, a standard of right behavior, was one of the most important characteristics during the Anglo-Saxon era. The story Beowulf depicted many virtues of the times. Beowulf holds his morals and virtues above all else, from the way he fought in battle until the day he died. Beowulf showed his honor as he traveled from his homeland to battle the vicious monster Grendel, who was terrorizing the Danes. Grendel "raided and ravaged" (105) the mead hall, showing no honor by killing inebriated men in their sleep. Beowulf proved his honor by deciding to "spurn all weapons"(338) and fight Grendel "with hand grip only"(342) thus declining an upper hand on his foe. Beowulf's honor is apparent again when he describes the contest between himself and his boyhood friend Breca. Beowulf and Breca were in the midst of a swimming competition on the open sea. Breca couldn't keep up with Beowulf, but being the honorable warrior, he refused to leave his side. Beowulf fought off monsters in the oceans deep, protecting Breca from the "grisly sea beasts." (430) Beowulf's morality came also in the form of loyalty to people and his word. Loyalty to his father remained throughout the epic. On numerous occasions he boasted of his father, Ecgtheow, who "was famous in many a folk-land," (195) thus immortalizing his name. Promises made by Beowulf were worth their weight in gold. His reputation grew as an honest and loyal man. After Beowulf's promise to slay mother Grendel, Hrothgard "gave thanks to God/ for the heartening words the hero had spoken." (910) Beowulf had yet to kill mother Grendel, but Hrothgar knew Beowulf would fulfill his promise. Acceptance of death, and care for the welfare of his people were Beowulf's greatest virtues. Preparing for battle, Beowulf accepted the possibility of victory but also made arrangements in the event of his death. Before his battle with Grendel he requested "the best of corselets" and...
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