Beowulf one’s prime, as a dependable king. In the

Beowulf
A True Hero?

 

                          Beowulf
is believed to demonstrate the importance of heroic code. The heroic code
values strength and loyalty in a warrior. It also values hospitality and
generosity in a king. There is a clearer division between Beowulf’s adolescent
heroism as a warrior as well as in one’s prime, as a dependable king. In the
story Beowulf appears to be faithful to express and representing the heroic
code. When Beowulf was a young warrior he was best known for his courage and
his strength. The epic story portrays that Beowulf perfectly represents and
values the Germanic heroic code. When you think of someone who is a hero you
would characterize him or her as strong, powerful, smart, courageous and loyal.
In the book Beowulf by Seamus Heaney on line 960 and 970 shows Beowulf might
not be as strong and heroic as we all thought. Whereas Beowulf fights for a
noble cause, Beowulf does not follow the Germanic heroic code given that
Beowulf does not possess courage and strength.

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                          In
the epic poem Beowulf has three separate and very difficult conflicts that
involve Grendel, Grendel’s mother and the dragon. In the poem, his actions are
driven by pride and self-glorification not the desire to help other people(*). When
studying each battle with each individual monster Beowulf not being what the
story portrays him to be will be more noticeable. Beowulf was a king who had
way too much pride and was constantly looking for the glory. Beowulf’s enormous
ego and him being arrogant put him in a lot of bad situation that could have
been prevented if he wasn’t looking for the attention. A hero is someone who
thinks about everyone before himself as well as makes smart decisions before
taking action. A hero also wouldn’t be conceded and looking for the
glorification. The last thing on a hero’s mind should be himself and his
appearance.

            Grendel
was one of the three monsters that fight a battle with Beowulf. Grendel has
many animal attributes and distorted gruesome aspect. Grendel is a God-cursed
creature that lives in the swamp. Grendel’s aggression against the Danes is
because of his loneliness and jealousy. When you think of someone who fits the
characteristics of evil they are ugly inside and out. In the poem Beowulf, King
Hrothgar of Denmark is a ruler of a very successful kingdom. King Hrothgar
decided to show his appreciation the warriors and all the people of his realm
by building a mead hall for a celebration. After built the mead hall Hrothgar
built for his people he decided to call it Heorot. When Heorot was built a huge
festival and praises to God was made causing Grendel to get very angry. Grendel
is huge monster with thick skin untouched by any weapons like arrows and
swords.

One night when Grendel was in a
rage he decided to attack Heorot. As Grendel quietly sneaks up on the warriors
he catches them sleeping resulting in Grendel killing all 30 of them. After he
kills all 30 warrior’s Grendel terrorizes Hrothgar’s kingdom. This means he has
access to sneak up on other people resulting him to kill someone every night. Now
that Grendel has access to the kingdom he has taken ownership of Heorot. The
only problem is Grendel can’t touch the throne because he is God-cursed. As
Grendel causes havoc in Heorot, Beowulf hears the trouble going on with Grendel
and the problems Hrothgar kingdom is having. When Beowulf arrives he and
Grendel battle.

On line 960 it states “My plan was
to pounce, pin him down in a tight grip and grapple him to death, have him
panting for life, powerless and clasped in my bare hands, his body in
thrall”(Heany 65). “But I couldn’t stop him from slipping my hold, the lord allowed
it, my lock on him wasn’t strong enough, he struggled fiercely and broke and
ran”(Heany 65). If Beowulf was truly a hero possessing the characteristics we
would think a hero would have such as strength, bravery and courage Grendel
would not have the time or even the power to slip his hold. While Beowulf was
battling Grendel, he had his warriors watch while he fought the monster on his
own. Beowulf being the conceded guy he is was he worried more about how he
would look battling the big monster by himself.

Beowulf fighting by himself he was
putting everyone at risk because he did not realize Grendel was a lot stronger
than what he intended him to have. The outcome of the battle was a victory for
Beowulf because as he was battling he was pulling Grendel’s arms as Grendel was
trying to pull away causing Grendel arm to rip off. Once Grendel’s arm ripped
off he scattered off back to the swampland and died. A true hero is someone who
isn’t afraid to put his pride aside and ask for help. For instance, when the
battle was over instead of Beowulf taking Grendel’s arm back to Heorot saying
we did as a group defeating the monster. Beowulf went back with Grendel’s arm
being selfish and conceded bragging that if it wasn’t for him Grendel would
still be alive.

Another monster Beowulf had to
battle was Grendel’s mother. Grendel and his mother are the decedent of Cain
who is the first-born evil son of Adam. Adam murdered his younger brother out
of pure jealously. Grendel’s mother is characterized as a swamp-hag. His mother
seemed to possess lesser human qualities than her son Grendel. Grendel’s mother
lives in a cave under a lake. Grendel’s mother only killed the Danes because
they decided to kill her son, which displays her motherly instinct. Grendel’s
mother is even more powerful than her own son. Which then challenges Beowulf to
provide all of his strength and power to take her down. Grendel’s mother possesses
a supernatural strength along with determination, which is shown with her
battle with Beowulf.

Grendel’s mother out of rage grabs Aeschere who was a top
adviser to Hrothgar, carrying him off into the swamp as he is screaming for
help. As Grednel’s mother is carrying Aeschere heading to the swamp she also
grabs hold of Grendel’s severed arm. She has taken Aeschere into the swampy
forest where she lives. In the swampy forest, there is a magical lake deeper
then you could even imagine where the water burns at the bottom. Beowulf is
then called to track her down swimming to the bottom of a fiery lake. In the
book Beowulf by Seamus Heaney on line 1500 and 1520 shows Beowulf might not be
as strong and heroic as we all thought. On line 1500 it states “So she lunged
and clutched and managed to catch him in her brutal grip; but his body, for all
that, remained unscathed”(Heaney 105).

As well as on line 1520 states “the
hero observed the swamp thing from hell, the tarn-hag in all her terrible
strength, the heaved his war-sword and swung his arm: the decorated blade came
down ringing and singing on her head” (Heaney105). As Beowulf being the all
mighty strong hero any weapon he had would work to kill his opponent because of
his strength. Unfortunately, the sword did not cause any damage to Grendel’s
mother so than Beowulf noticed another sword. The sword he saw was big enough
to cause damage to a monster like her which then resulted in chopping off her
head killing her. After killing Grendel’ mother Beowulf saw Grendel’s body so
to end them both he cut off his head as well. “But he soon found his
battle-torch extinguished: the shining blade refused to bite, it spared her and
failed the man in his need” (Heaney 105). If Beowulf was a true hero like he
portrays he is he would have done everything to protect his people. He would have
never let Grendel’s mother even have a chance to capture anyone especially
Aeschere knowing he just killed her son. Beowulf would have done everything in
his power to keep everyone safe rather than worrying about his sleep. Which what caused him
to not be able to reach Grendel’s mother in time. When someone who is
vein and conceded they think they are the best and no one is above them.

If Beowulf was the best of the best
like he thinks he is Grendel’s mother would not even have the chance to grab hold
on him. Especially Beowulf would have had the strength to escape her without
even struggling like he was when in battle with her. When observing Beowulf’s
heroism with the dragon there are examples that may challenge it. Beowulf
become heir to the kingdom due to the death of his uncle. Beowulf then shows he
has matured and in 50 years he was king. All was going well with Beowulf as
king until the dragon arrives. The dragon in Beowulf is an ancient serpent that
guard’s a horde of treasure within a hidden mound. What caused the dragon to
become so angry was that a slave who was on the run from his master found the
treasure. The salve thought it was a good idea to take the cup to his master as
payment. When the dragon woke up he noticed his cup was missing.

The dragon was so mad he started to
demolish everything including burning the throne hall. Beowulf then decided his
was his time to stop the dragon. Beowulf was in battle with the dragon not only
once but fought him three time. On page 175 of Seamus Heaney’s Beowulf book it
discusses the battle between Beowulf and the dragon where his powerful sword
failed him yet again. On line 2580 it states, “Beowulf was foiled, of a
glorious victory, the glittering sword, infallible before that day failed when
he unsheathed it” (Heaney 175).  As I
stated before a hero’s weapon should never fail against it opponents. That it
should always beat them causing the hero to leave with the victory.

Later in the story the dragon
attacks again causing Beowulf to be unprepared in the fight hoping his sword
would help him with the battle. Unfortunately, the brave hero’s weapon did not
help end the battle with the dragon. Beowulf realized he wasn’t as strong as he
used to be when he was fighting Grendel. As Beowulf was battling the dragon he
was losing where his men are looking at him terrified. Out of all the 13 men he
took with him Wiglaf was there to step up and help Beowulf battle the dragon. Wiglaf
see that Beowulf down and is unable to continue to fight the dragon. Beowulf
then pulls out his knife, stabbing the dragon in his underbelly. With Beowulf stabbing
the dragon with the knife makes the dragon stop battling. As I continued
reading on page 181 the dragon’s third onslaught drew blood where it unfortunately
put poison in Beowulf’s body. On page 183 lines 2710-2720 it states, “the wound
dealt by the ground burner earlier began to scald and swelling, Beowulf
discovered deadly poison suppurating his body” (Heaney 183).

On page 181 lines 2690 it states,
“the fire breathing dragon was mad to attack for the third time” (181). It also
states on line 2690 “When a chance came, he caught the hero in a rush of flames
and clamped sharp fangs into his neck” (181). “Beowulf’s body ran wet with his
life-blood: it came welling out” (181). As Beowulf is dying due to the poisonous
bite the dragon gave him he asks Wiglaf to enter the dragons cave. Beowulf
wanted Wiglaf to grab some of the treasure so he could see what he put his life
at risk for.  As a hero, you should be
more worried about if your people are okay rather than looking at the material
things you’ve died for. Beowulf then asked for Wiglaf to take over in his place
as ruler handing him the collar around his neck. After he handed off his collar
to Wiglaf, Beowulf takes his last breath and dies. “As time goes on Beowulf’s
deeds do less and less good until they actually go bad”().

With this challenging Beowulf’s heroism,
a true hero would not get struck with anything letting their opponent to win.
If Beowulf were a true hero, he would have thought of other ways to defeat the dragon.
With the dragon causing Beowulf to bleed out put the dragon above Beowulf even
if the dragon did die as well. Even if Beowulf did kill Grendel, Grendel’s mother
and the dragon he did it in a selfish way. Especially when fighting the dragon Beowulf
knew he grew weaker. A hero no matter what will consume a boost of strength when
batting knowing he wants to protect his people. Hero’s will do anything in his
power to do so. With Beowulf being vein and full of him he would have probably
had a better outcome with his 3 opponents. In any hero book the villain always loses
causing the hero to come out with a solid victory.

If Beowulf was more into being a
hero over being glorified he might have slayed the dragon and came out alive. As
I stated that Beowulf might not be the ideal hero we all expected he still did
fight for noble causes. Beowulf might have fought with a terrible attitude, but
he still fought the 3 monsters. Beowulf does anything for honor, but he does
most of his battle for glory. The one fight I saw Beowulf fight with nobility over
glory was when he battled with the dragon. This is because when battling with Grendel
and Grendel’s mother he was young. For him being young he was immature and only
worried about himself image. When battling with the dragon Beowulf wasn’t young
anymore and grew mature as being king.

Once he realized he wasn’t as
strong as before he then started battling the dragon with a purpose. Beowulf
wasn’t fighting the dragon for himself but for his people like it was his
responsibility. It was the dragon that made Beowulf fight for a purpose rather than
honor and glory. The message behind the epic poem Beowulf is that the monster
makes the hero because it shows different sides of the hero and his purpose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works
Cited

“Beowulf
Is Not a Hero for One Main Reason His Actions Are Driven by Pr – E.” Mid Term Papers,
midtermpapers.com/essays/beowulf-is-not-a-hero-for-one-main-reason-his-actions-are-driven-by-pride-and-self.

 Garcia, Christopher. “The Anglo SaxonHero.” The Anglo-Saxon Hero,
csis.pace.edu/grendel/Proj2004A1/hero.html.

Heaney,
Seamus. Beowulf: a New Verse Translation.
Faber and Faber, 2007.

Jankowski,
Connie. “Why Beowulf Is an Epic Hero.” The
Pen and The Pad, penandthepad.com/beowulf-epic-hero-20967.html.

Norwood,
Irvin. “Beowulf Was Not an Epic Hero.” Study
Guides and Book Summaries, 5 Apr. 2017,
freebooksummary.com/beowulf-was-not-an-epic-hero-1358.

WA,
Hailey W. Odessa. “Beowulf-an Ideal Hero.” Teen
Ink, www.teenink.com/nonfiction/academic/article/477163/Beowulf-an-Ideal-Hero/.