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Beowulf Literary Analysis

By btarmstrong Oct 23, 2013 644 Words
Every century has their “hero” every century also has different characteristics of what makes a hero a hero. Beowulf is the 6th century’s version of a hero; he has many significant traits that classify him as such. Epic heroes posses many traits that other characters lack. Among those traits are: super-human strength, bravery, and wisdom. Beowulf posses every one of these traits which aid him in battle and allow him to stand out among his peers. Beowulf’s super-human strength, bravery, and wisdom characterize him as the perfect classic epic hero.

Throughout lines 91-92 Beowulf’s superior strength is tested numerous times. Beowulf was the strongest man in the world. The fact that he is considered to be stronger than anyone else in the world is incredible considering the world only knew Grendel, a monster, to be the strongest in the world. Beowulf is in fact so strong that Line 146 states “...such weapons, unless his appearance and his beauty.” The Guard he came across was so admired by his muscles that he was actually stunned by Beowulf’s “beauty”. Line 307, Grendel is instantly seized by Beowulf upon trying to clutch him, an act that had never been accomplished before his arrival. Beowulf is incredibly strong to have seized Grendel, because he (Grendel) has snatched up thirty men at once.

The second element of a epic hero, is bravery. Beowulf is extremely brave. In Lines 95-98, Beowulf declares that he’ll go help Hrothgar to defeat Grendel, which is incredibly brave considering he already knew the power and physical strength of Grendel from stories he had heard from past warriors at Hrothgar. During Lines 295-296, Beowulf lays down and waits for Grendel to seize him. Grendel is a monster with the strength to clutch and kill thirty warriors at one time, and he believed in his heart that if he could get Grendel to seize him, he could defeat him and he did. When he pursues Beowulf’s mother in Lines 307-308, Beowulf jumps into the swamp without giving it a second thought, not to mention that its also night time and and as Beowulf is sinking to the bottom his thoughts aren’t ‘what if I die’? His thoughts are of the upcoming battle to come and the glory he will gain. This shows incredible bravery because he wasn’t thinking about the fact he could die, but the fact that he will be an epic hero to the Geats.

The final element that sets Beowulf apart from his peers is his wisdom; he posses great wisdom. He’s wise as a leader and wise as a warrior. Line 109, he served as the boat captain as he and his followers started the journey from Geatland to Denmark. He knew the sea which means he has great wisdom because its easy to get turned around. Lines 307-315, Beowulf pretends to be asleep and gains the upper hand against Grendel who thinks he has an easy kill but instead, is fooled and ends up having his arm ripped off by Beowulf. Lines 465-470, as Beowulf is being dragged into the she-witch’s lair, he realizes that weapons have no effect until he sees the she-witch’s sword hanging on the wall, draws it, then severs the head of Grendel’s mother and wins the battle. Beowulf is the only one who sees that weapons won’t harm the monsters, and you have to kill them a specific way by severing the head or another big body part to kill them. Beowulf is the perfect example of an epic hero because he posses the biggest three traits: physical strength, bravery, and wisdom which makes the X-Factor of a hero. Beowulf’s strength, bravery, and wisdom helped him defeat Grendel and his mother. Many had tried but only Beowulf succeeded, which was a big accomplishment for him.

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