Beowulf is an epic poem which has survived for a thousand years thanks to its embodiment of the Anglo-Saxon culture, particularly their ideals. In a warrior, the Anglo-Saxons admired outstanding courage, loyalty to the leader and the tribe, and fierce personal valor. In a ruler, they admired a willingness to do battle when necessary, generosity to those who are loyal, and loyalty to the people. Beowulf, the title character, displays each of these traits, as a warrior and later as a king, through his acts in the poem.
Beowulf was shown to be thought of by all the characters as the greatest warrior there was; therefore, it makes sense that he would exemplify every warrior trait that the Anglo-Saxons admired, including the outstanding courage, loyalty to the leader, and fierce personal valor. He displays his great courage when, after hearing “how Grendel filled nights with horror” (134), he “commanded a boat fitted out, / proclaiming that he’d go to that famous king, / …Now when help was needed” (135-8). The fact that he was willing to face a horror like Grendel when all others before him had failed shows not only his courage, but also his goodness in his desire to help others. He shows his loyalty to his ruler when, after arriving at Herot, he states that his “lord Higlac / Might think less of me if I let my sword / go where my feet were afraid to” (191-3). Even far away from his king, Beowulf considers him in all of his decisions, for he would not want to disgrace him or disappoint him. Beowulf shows no fear in the face of battling the fierce Grendel, and when he states that, “[he has] heard, / Too, that the monster’s scorn of men, / Is so great that ne needs no weapons and fears none. / Nor will I” (188-91), he exhibits his great valor in the fact that he does not fear Grendel, nor fighting him without the use of weapons. As a hero, Beowulf fulfills every aspect of the Anglo-Saxons’ ideal.
After defeating Grendel, Beowulf is made king of Geatland, and adopts...
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