Generosity in Beowulf

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As people mention the virtue, generosity, they always conceive of an image of a wealthy philanthropist who donates his money to people in need. However, in my opinion, the concept of generosity exceeds the narrow connotation of giving to others, and not only can rich people become generous; rather, generosity comprises of empathy to share others’ feelings, magnanimous tolerance towards other people, and returning to them with kindness.

In the well-renowned epic Beowulf, the main character shows to people an ideal demonstration of generosity in life. When Beowulf heard about the destructions that Grendel had caused in Denmark, regardless of possible danger to him, he made up his mind resolutely to sail all the way to the Danish land and help the poor people under Hrothgar. As the text goes, “Beowulf chose the mightiest men he could find/ the bravest and best of the Geats, fourteen/ in all, and led them down to their boat.” (206-208) At this time, he shouldered the same suffering as did the Danes, and offered to kill the monster as if the problem was his own. This simple and ready availability to help illustrates a bounteous figure. On the first night Beowulf spent in Denmark, Unferth, an anti-hero as well as a coward, challenged Beowulf’s power for accusing him of losing the swimming contest with Brecca. As the text states, “your luck may change if you challenge Grendel/ Staying a whole night through in this hall/ Waiting where that fiercest of demons can find you.” (526-528) Beowulf returned this harsh and malevolent criticism with great magnanimity. Despite the embarrassment Beowulf experienced from Unferth, he still fought and eventually killed Grendel with great valor, demonstrating to the Danes his ability as well as tolerance. Not only did Beowulf represent a figure of generosity, but other characters, such as Wiglaf, also exemplified selflessness to readers. It says in the text, “As when Beowulf needed him most Wiglaf showed his courage, his strength and...
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