Beowulf is the titular hero of the poem Beowulf.  He is considered the perfect hero for two reasons: his ability to vanquish heroes, and his careful and wise leadership of his people.  Beowulf experiences significant growth throughout the poem, and the poet explores his growth by examining Beowulf’s conflict with three major antagonists over the course of the poem: Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the Dragon.  While Beowulf is successful in his battles against each of these antagonists, he approaches each of them in a different manner, which helps demonstrate his growth over the course of the poem.  This growth is a critical component of Beowulf’s development and of his heroic nature.  He is remarkable as a warrior and as a king, which during his time period would have been important, as warriors would swear loyalty to another warrior who had successfully led them into battle or protected them, elevating him to the status of king.  Still, successful kings had to be able to do more than lead men in battle.  Therefore, because Beowulf is considered a great warrior and a great king, one expects a transition from the fearless warrior he is during his youth to the wise and more cautious king he becomes in his older years.

The poem opens when Beowulf is a young man.  He enters the story as he is stepping off of his ship, having just arrived in Denmark from Geatland.  His appearance is physically impressive, and he is immediately described as possessing an inordinate amount of strength.  He is said to have the strength of 30 men in his grip.  Furthermore, he carries himself with pride. 

While he is young, he has already gained a reputation as a great warrior.  He entered an epic swimming match with his childhood friend, Breca, which, even though he lost, he helped establish his reputation as physically capable.   He has also proven himself in various battles, so that he has a reputation as a strong warrior.  Beowulf killed a tribe of giants and drove enemies from...

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Essays About Beowulf