Beowolf: an Epic Hero Essay

What exactly is an epic hero? An epic hero exhibits the attributes esteemed by the society that shaped him. Beowulf exemplifies the traits of the perfect hero. By analyzing and studying Beowulf, you can learn much about these Germanic people that created Beowulf and discover which traits they admired. Beowulf also perfectly embodies the manners and values imposed by the Germanic heroic code, including faithfulness, courtesy, and honor. His defeat of Grendel and Grendel’s mother verifies his reputation for bravery and establishes him thoroughly as a hero.

The poem of Beowulf explores his heroism throughout three distinct and progressively difficult conflicts with Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the dragon. Likely the poem’s most memorable fabrication, Grendel is one of the three monsters that Beowulf battles. Does Beowulf establish a heroic attribute in his relation to Grendel? Well, the characteristics portrayed by Beowulf when battling Grendel line up with those that are the basis for an epic hero. Those qualities are loyalty as well as bravery. Loyalty was demanded for survival. Tribesmen had to swear fealty to the leader and follow him unquestioningly.

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Does Beowulf exhibit loyalty? Certainly. The main reason he traveled across the sea to help King Hrothgar was because Hrothgar had saved the life of Beowulf’s father years earlier. This act reveals Beowulf’s honorable moral code, a powerful attribute of an epic hero. Beowulf accepted Hrothgar’s appeal to slay the dragon that was plaguing his kingdom. Now does Beowulf express bravery and courage? Yes, the Danes live in fear of Grendel, yet Beowulf was eager to meet him in battle. Aristotle wrote, “{Bravery} courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees the others. Beowulf is also incredibly powerful, besting Grendel with merely his hands. Following the defeat of Grendel, though, another conflict emerges- Grendel’s mother. Grendel’s mother, of course, is devastated and enraged that the Geat has killed her only son, so she sneaks up to Herot, the golden mead hall, and kills one of the king’s warriors in vengeance. Still, Beowulf tracks her down and kills her, but this time he needed the assist of a magical sword. Beowulf The Geats are so in awe of the great warrior that they make him king.

After he rules for fifty years and becomes an old man, he participates in his final battle. A dragon begins laying waste to the land of the Geats. The cold-blooded antagonist has been hibernating in his cave for decades, safeguarding his treasure. He troubled no one until a thief stole part of his valuables. Beowulf and his men journey to the dragon’s cave, but when the aged fire-breather emerges from his lair, all but one of Beowulf’s men retreat in fright. Only Wiglaf remains to help his king. Beowulf exemplifies valor and courage through this action, as well as Wiglaf.

It takes both of them to slay the dragon, but in the process Beowulf is mortally wounded. In the end, Beowulf and the dragon destroy each other. The epic poem explores Beowulf’s heroism throughout three distinct and progressively difficult conflicts with Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the dragon. So, is Beowulf an epic hero? To modern day standards as well as the Anglo-Saxons, yes. He embodied the traits that are most admired. Unlike modern heroes, Beowulf possessed more strength in his heroic attributes and less in physical power. Beowulf is certainly considered an epic hero.