Is Beowulf an Epic Hero?

Topics: Beowulf, Epic poetry, Ethics Pages: 2 (710 words) Published: October 6, 2011
Beowulf EssayHannah 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 people. They also have strong ethics and values. In the epic poem, Beowulf, Many would argue that Beowulf is an epic hero and can do no wrong, however his ethics and motives are incorrect.

Beowulf is not an ethical man. When Grendel comes to the hall to attack, Beowulf watches him but doesn’t react, “Human eyes were watching his evil steps, waiting to see his swift hard claws. Grendel snatched at the first Geat he came to, ripped him apart, cut his body to bits with powerful jaws” (lines 418-423). He knowingly lets one of his men die. Anglo-Saxons are all about loyalty to their fellow villagers, friends, and family members. However, sacrificing one of your men is not what most will call being loyal. When Beowulf arrives in Herot, he begins to tale tails of his adventures, “I swam in the blackness of night, hunting monsters out of the ocean, and killing them on by one; death was my errand the fate they had earned” (lines 155-159). When he tells his story, it sounds like he fights the battles just so he can boast about them to the people. He isn’t fighting for the people. He is fighting for himself. His heart isn’t in the right place. Beowulf’s motives are fame and money. They make him look arrogant to people. Therefore they question his abilities as Unferth does. Unferth believes that Beowulf is stupid for fighting all the battles he does because all of them are not necessary to save lives. Some of them are for the people. Yet some of them are only for the notoriety and money. For example, Unferth accuses Beowulf of being foolish in his quests, “Are you the same boastful fool who fought a swimming match with Brecca, both...
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