Beowulf: the Tale of an Epic Hero

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Acclaimed with extraordinary strength, skill, and bravery, Beowulf proves himself during the course of the epic poem to be powerful, virtuous, and courageous; an exemplary epic hero. The poem analyzes his heroism from the time when he is a warrior and as he develops into a king. Beowulf encounters three separate and extremely difficult battles: the battle with Grendel, Grendel's mother, and the dragon. In these battles, we can see the expression of the heroic code; and furthermore, a division between Beowulf's youthful heroism as a gallant warrior and his mature heroism as a reliable king. As the story begins, Beowulf is a great warrior, personified by his conquests of strength and courage, including his swimming match against Brecca. He also possesses the traits dictated by the heroic code: loyalty, courtesy, and pride. However, he is not yet regarded as a hero. Then, he engages in three heroic battles. For twelve years, a menacing monster called Grendel had terrorized the Danes. When Beowulf hears of Hrothgar's predicament, he willingly accepts the challenge to defeat the monster. Beowulf travels across the sea, from Geatland, with fourteen of his warriors to do battle. When he arrives with his fourteen warriors, the Danes are pleased with what they see. As night approaches, the Danes rise to good spirits as Beowulf boasts of how he will defeat Grendel with his bare hands. When night falls, Grendel stealthily approaches the mead hall. Grendel bursts in, and immediately devours a Geat. Then he clutches Beowulf. However, Beowulf's strength is greater than Grendel's and the beast attempts to flee. Beowulf wrestles down Grendel and tears his arm from its socket. Grendel flees back to his swamp, but is fatally wounded. Beowulf presents the torn limb as a trophy of victory. Following the victorious defeat of Grendel, the Danes engage in a celebration that lasts well into the night. However, the celebration is cut short by the wrath of the slain demon's mother....
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