Heroism - Beowulf

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The concept of heroism is one of which that can be somewhat difficult to explain through literature due to the popularity of the “pop fiction” heroes that illuminate the spotlight today. Heroes like Beowulf are often looked as mediocre when compared to the crime fighting characters known as Batman and Superman. Roger B. Rollin attempts to distinguish the difference and importance of literary heroes in his article, “Beowulf to Batman: The Epic Hero and Pop Culture.” Beowulf, the epic hero of the Anglo-Saxons, is depicted to be a true hero in the article. Rollins explains the five types of heroes, why people and cultures have heroes, and how movie heroes affect the view of heroism. Rollins states from the very beginning that there are five types of heroes in the literature. Beowulf is described to be the “type two” hero, “If superior in degree to other men and to his environment, the hero is the typical hero of romance, whose actions are marvelous but who is himself identifies as a human being. The hero of romance moves in a world in which the ordinary laws of nature are slightly suspended” (Rollins, 435). This description is translated to mean that Beowulf is the strongest of his men who surpasses the realities of the physical world while still being human himself. As Beowulf embarked into the depths of the dark lake to face Grendel’s mother it was “for hours he sank through the waves” (line 572). Though the hero suspends the physical limitations of a human being, this does not mean that Beowulf has no error. In his final battle against the fire dragon, Beowulf acknowledges that he will die, an act of pure defeat when a hero is the subject of attention. Beowulf realizes that “His weapon/ Had failed him, deserted him, now when he needed it/ Most, that excellent sword” (lines 734-36) and that his life was “a journey/ Into darkness that all men must make, as death/ ends their few brief hours on earth” (lines 739-41). Beowulf, being a type two hero according to...
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