Beowulf as an Epic Hero
An epic hero is the central figure who has superior qualities and risks personal danger to pursue a grand quest. Beowulf is a great epic hero because he performs many brave deeds such as risking his life for the greater good of society, and is significant and glorified by all people. Beowulf displays all of these heroic characteristics in many situations throughout the poem. Beowulf boasts and boasts about all of his great doings, but in the end he proves to everyone that he is as great as he claims to be. Most could say Beowulf is the perfect example of an Anglo-Saxon hero.
First, Beowulf shows that he will do anything for fame, glory, and the greater good of society. He risks his life in many of his adventures in the poem to achieve these goals. An example of him risking his life for fame and society is shown whenever Beowulf decides he is going to kill the fire breathing dragon for the people. Beowulf shows his will to fight for what he desires whenever he says, “This is not your, nor is it up to any man except me to measure his strength against the monster or to prove his worth. I shall win the gold by my courage, or else mortal combat, doom of battle, will bear your lord away ”(ll.682-687). Beowulf’s great courage and will to fight helps him to take down the dragon. Since Beowulf was so willing to risk his life for others, he gained much glory. People felt that all of the great deeds that he had done made him deserve glorification. Another example of Beowulf risking death to fight for people who needed his help, is whenever “In his far off home, Beowulf, Higlac’s follower and Hickman 2 the strongest of the Geats---greater and stronger than anyone ever in this world---heard how Grendel filled nights with horror and quickly commanded a boat fitted out, proclaiming that he’d go to that famous king, would sail across the sea to Hrothgar, now when help was needed” (ll.109-116). In this situation, Beowulf shows he cares about the greater good of society and will be there whenever help is needed. There are many other situations throughout this epic poem, that show Beowulf’s courage to risk his life for society and fame. Beowulf was always one to volunteer for the risky situations in life.
A second heroic quality that Beowulf possesses is that he performs many brave deeds. An example of these brave deeds is whenever he boasts about killing sea monsters in the ocean. Beowulf says, “A monster seized me, drew me swiftly toward the bottom, swimming with its claws tight in my flesh. But fate let me find its heart with my sword, hack myself free; I fought that beasts last battle, left it floating lifeless in the sea” (ll.286-291). Beowulf seizing the sea monster is only one of many brave deeds that he accomplishes throughout this epic poem. Beowulf preforms many brave deeds that no normal human being would dare try. Beowulf is a strong believer in his own personal strength. Beowulf says, “My lord Higlac might think less of me if I let my sword go where my feet were afraid to, if I hid behind some broad linden shield: my hands alone shall fight for me, struggle for life against the monster” (ll.169-174). Beowulf shows his bravery and courage by refusing to use weapons against Grendel. In this epic poem Beowulf preforms these many brave deeds because he has so much courage. He also has so much desire to conquer any challenge that comes his way.
Thirdly, Beowulf is very significant and glorified. All of the brave deeds he accomplishes, and the strength that he possesses, gains him much respect and glorification from people. After Beowulf had defeated Grendel “The old and young rejoiced, turned back from that happy pilgrimage, mounted their hard hooved horses, high-spirited stallions, and rode them slowly toward Herot again, retelling Hickman 3 Beowulf’s bravery as they jogged along” (ll.534-538). People had a great love for Beowulf’s bravery and looked up to him. Beowulf’s accomplishments were talked about among all people. He was a hero to many people. Beowulf was respected by all “and over and over they swore that nowhere on Earth or under the spreading sky or between the seas, neither south nor north, was there a warrior worthier to rule over men” (ll.539-542). People looked up to Beowulf because he accomplished many things that they had never seen anyone do before. People glorified his name because of his bravery to stand up for them. Beowulf is very significant and glorified throughout this epic poem.
In conclusion, Beowulf had all of the great qualities of an epic hero. Beowulf preformed many brave deeds, risks his life for the greater good of society, and is very significant and glorified by all people. Beowulf never had a problem with putting himself in danger for the good of others. Through all of his grand quests he did nothing but prove to others that he truly is an epic hero. Beowulf was a great Anglo-Saxon hero and is still read and taught about today.