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Beowulf As An Epic Hero

BEOWULF AS AN EPIC HERO In reading the epic poem of Beowulf, the main character, Beowulf, has the characteristics of an epic hero by showing skill and courage, enduring fame, and royal responsibility . In the epic poem of Beowulf, Beowulf shows extraordinary and almost superficial skill and courage at the Slaying of Grendel, the Troll-Wife, and the Dragon. Due to the courageous slaying of the unwanted creatures Beowulf also becomes accustomed to the idea of enduring fame. Beowulf also must accept the concept of protecting his people as a royal responsibility. The epic poem begins with the slaying of Grendel. In the slaying of the abnormally large creature Beowulf shows portentous skills and courage.

Beowulf’s shows extraordinary skill and courage; which is an example of an epic hero. In the poem of Beowulf, Beowulf shows courage and skill by slaying Grendel without the use of a shield or sword. The reason why Beowulf decides to kill Grendel with out the use of any armor is because Beowulf feels that he should have no advantages over Grendel. By conquering Grendel without any armor Beowulf proves to the people that he truly is courageous and skillful. The following paragraph shows the reader just how courageous he really is “I count myself weaker in war or grapple of battle than Grendel himself.

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Therefore i scorn to slay him with sword, Deal deadly wound, as i well might do-nothing he knows of a noble fighting, Of thrusting and hewing and hacking of shield” (L 507-513) Beowulf also shows skill and courage when he defeats the Troll Wife. (The mother of Grendel) After the killing of many Thanes in the Mead Hall Beowulf is able to kill The Troll Wife with the use of the Hrunting. He defeats The Troll Wife with a thrust at the throat, which broke through the bone rings of The Troll Wife. Once again Grendel exemplifies the characteristics of an epic hero. Beowulf also shows skill and courage in the killing of the Dragon.

In the slaying of the Dragon, Beowulf was willing to sacrifice his life so that the gruesome Dragon would be killed. Due to Beowulf’s extraordinary skill and courage Beowulf shows royal responsibility. Beowulf shows another characteristic of an epic hero by carrying out his royal responsibilities. When the kingdom is given to him to govern Beowulf realizes that it is his duty to govern and protect his people, for it is his royal responsibility. Even though he has aged when the dragon comes about, he has to protect his people for it is now a duty that he must subject to.

In the following passage from Beowulf, Beowulf explains why he must carry out his royal responsibility ” I remember it all.. for all such gifts that Hygelac gave me I repaid him in battle with shining sword, as chance was given. He granted me land, A gracious dwelling and goodly estate. I was always before him alone in wan. While the sword holds out that has served me well. With hand and hard blade, i must fight for the treasure” (L 567-572) Although Beowulf is fragile and old when the Dragon comes about Beowulf realizes that he has repay his people by killing the Dragon.

Beowulf feels that he was given so much from his people and the killing of the dragon is his royal responsibility. The killing of Grendel, The Troll wife, and the Dragon, have all been Beowulf’s royal responsibility. Beowulf also becomes accustomed to the idea of enduring fame by taking royal responsibility. Beowulf demonstrates another characteristic of an epic hero through the concept of enduring fame. The characteristic of enduring fame comes about when Beowulf slays Grendel, The Troll, and the Dragon.

After the slaying of the Grendel and The Troll Wife Beowulf is regarded as a hero by many Thanes. When Beowulf kills Grendel, Beowulf encounters Heorot where he awards Beowulf with gold, a banner embroided, a byrny and a helm. When having a feast in the honor of Beowulf, Wealtheow proclaims a speech to Beowulf: “Take, dear Beowulf, collar and corselat. Wear these treasures with right good will! Thrive and prosper and prove your might. You have earned the underling honor of heroes. May fate show favor while life shall last! I wish your hearts content” (L 775-780) Beowulf also becomes accustomed to the idea of enduring fame when the land is given to Beowulf to govern.

He also receives recognition when he dies. At the end of this epic poem, his people, are mournful, and keep solemn promises that they will never forget Beowulf. All of the characteristic mentioned early prove the Beowulf was an epic hero. Beowulf shows skill and courage, enduring fame, and carries out his royal responsibilities; all these characteristics prove that Beowulf is an epic hero. By killing Grendel, Grendels dam, and the Dragon, Beowulf shows skill and courage to his people by showing his strength and endurance.

By killing the Dragon even though he knows that the outcome will probably lead to death he shows the characteristic of royal responsibility. By giving Beowulf the land to govern it shows that he was enduring fame. All these are characteristics of an epic hero, and that was what Beowulf was… an epic hero.


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