top-rated free essay

beowulf: epic hero

By peyton_2014 Oct 28, 2013 590 Words

Beowulf: Epic Hero
Epic hero: An important figure from a history or legend, usually favored by or even partially descended from deities, but aligned more closely with mortal figures in popular portrayals. The story of Beowulf is filled with adventure, murder, and drama. The author, however, is unknown. In the story the main characters are Beowulf, Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the dragon. Beowulf is defined as an epic hero by possessing the traits of being a strong and responsible leader, being on a quest, and by risking his own death for glory.

Beowulf is a strong and responsible leader for several reasons. First, when he fights Grendel, he puts the innocent people he is defending above his own life. Then, he fights Grendel’s mother as a result of her retaliation of the previous battle. The night after Beowulf attacks and defeats Grendel, his mother marches to Herot and kills the closest friend of a man named Hrothgar. Beowulf takes responsibility by fighting and defeating her. Finally, in the battle with the dragon, Beowulf steps up to the plate and stops the Dragon’s path of destruction because its “[w]ar and terror have swept away [his] people, shut their eyes to delight and to living, [and] closed the door to all gladness.” (629-633)

Another characteristic that makes Beowulf and epic hero is the fact the he is on a quest on several occasions. In the battle with Grendel Beowulf is on a quest because he is traveling to Denmark to save the Danes from Grendel’s violence. When fighting with Grendel’s mother, Beowulf travels to the lake layer to seek retaliation on her from the previous attach of Hrothgar’s best friend. His quest was long and treacherous. “For hours he sank through the waves; At last he saw the mud of the bottom and all at once the greedy she-wolf who’d ruled those waters for half a hundred years discovered him.” (423-427) Finally, when Beowulf fights the dragon, he travels to stop the dragon’s path of destruction and to seek revenge for the burning of his tower.

The final trait of an epic hero that Beowulf possesses is that in every situation he is portrayed in he risks his own death for glory. In the battle with Grendel, he risks his life because no man made weapon can harm him. He defeats Grendel with his own hands and takes part of him as a trophy. “Hanging high from the rafters where Beowulf had hung it, was the monsters arm, claw and shoulder and all.” (393-395) In the battle with Grendel’s mother, he risks his life because she is angry and seeks retaliation on Beowulf. She seeks revenge on him for ripping off her sons arm and hanging it as a trophy. When Beowulf fights the dragon, he risks death because he is at a possibly detrimental disadvantage. The dragon can breathe fire, while all Beowulf has is a sword. The dragon can harm Beowulf with her fire from a distance; however, Beowulf can only harm her up close to her with his sword.

Beowulf exemplifies many characteristics of an epic hero. He shows that he is in fact defined as an epic hero because he is a strong and responsible leader, he is on a quest, and he risks his own death for glory. He exemplifies each of these in every battle: The Battle with Grendel, The Battle with Grendel’s Mother, and The Battle with the Dragon. Beowulf is an epic hero.

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • Beowulf As an Epic Hero

    ... 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, a...

    Read More
  • Beowulf, the Epic Hero

    ...Beowulf, the Epic Hero There have been many grand stories about great warriors, and champions; those about epic heroes however, are the truly exceptional tales. One such tale, over a thousand years old, stands out from all the rest: Beowulf, the tale of a great warrior, on his quest to achieve eternal glory, defeating great opponents. Throug...

    Read More
  • Beowulf Epic Hero

    ...An epic hero is a character in an epic poem that is brave and noble and is admired by his followers for their achievements. Beowulf is an epic hero. He fits every description and is talked about in elevated language. In the story it is Beowulf’s duty to protect his people and defeat hideous monsters. When he hears about a wicked monster that...

    Read More
  • Beowulf the Epic Hero

    ...Who is Beowulf, that makes him such a person to be called an Epic Hero? As a mortal human being who was born and raised in Geatland, he lives his life in the poem with greatness in loyalty for himself and his people The fact that he has accomplished many substantial triumphs during his existence, makes it clear on who he really is as a person an...

    Read More
  • Beowulf: an Epic Hero

    ...Nate Gauvain British Literature Beowulf Essay 9/22/04 Beowulf: An Epic Hero According to Abrams, the heroic poem is "a long verse narrative on a serious subject, told in an elevated style, and centered on a heroic or quasi-divine figure on whose actions depends the fate of a tribe, a nation, or the human race." Beowulf fits Abrams' descr...

    Read More
  • Is Beowulf an Epic Hero?

    ...Beowulf Essay Hannah Dudley 1st Period Every generation and culture of mankind seeks a hero to emulate and look to for guidance. Heroes provide hope, determination, and safety to all who are affected by their actions. Epic heroes are smarter and stronger than the average human, and they are on a quest for something important to their peopl...

    Read More
  • Beowulf the Epic Hero

    ...Beowulf the Epic Hero What does it mean to be a hero? Like anything else in this world, the definition of the word hero can be argued. Some may say that a hero can be passive, that is if he or she refrains from doing a certain action it makes them heroic. Others would argue that to be truly heroic the character must never turn tail and alwa...

    Read More
  • Beowulf- Epic Hero Essay Example

    ...Epics exhibit qualities that make them distinct when compared to other genres of literature. Beowulf exhibits characteristics that allows the piece of literature to remain an epic of great proportions. The poem exhibits the epic characteristics of supernatural force, superhuman courage, and the hero is a figure of great national importance. ...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.