Essay on Bravery and Character Flaws Exposed in Beowulf and Grendel

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The various adaptations of the Beowulf legend provide a form of courageousness. The following are sources concerning the Beowulf myth: Grendel, a novel by John Gardner, and Beowulf and Grendel, a film directed by Sturla Gunnarson. These pieces contain acts of genuine bravery, but they also depict instances where lack of courage is shown. The prevalence of bravery juxtaposed with cowardice within the novel and the film suggests that acts of heroism are situational and dependent upon one’s exhibited characteristics at any given occasion.
Both the novel and the film represent at least one character as having traits compatible to heroism. In the novel, Queen Wealtheow possesses bravery in a situation where she had very little to be optimistic about. She was the sister of Hygmod, young king of nearby Helmings. When the powerful Hrothgar became a probable threat, the young king resorted to giving Wealtheow to the Scydlings as a peace offering. Upon witnessing the donation of Wealtheow to Hrothgar, Grendel observed, “She looked up at Hrothgar’s beard, not his eyes, afraid of him. ‘My lord,’ she said” (101). Wealtheow was obviously frightened to leave her family by means of an unfamiliar king. She knew that she would very rarely ever get to see her family again, but she also knew that her cooperation would result in the safety of her tribe. Also, she would have been intimidated due to the infamous presence of Grendel near Hrothgar’s meadhall. It can be presumed that she knew about Grendel because news of his existence and mayhem had even traveled across sea to Geetland. With all of these fears combined, it would have been understandable if Wealtheow would have adamantly refused to be a peace offering. However, she ac...

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...dience with a better understanding of how a legitimate hero should act. I still think that the story would still be prominent in today’s Anglo-Saxon culture. The heroic qualities represented can be very inspiring and the poor qualities serve as a learning point. The Anglo-Saxon people would most likely still appreciate the values that the story seems to involve. Some of these concepts promoted are to be hopeful, investigative, and brave. They would also probably look to learn from the negative values such as cowardice, irrationality, and boastfulness. Ultimately, the story of Beowulf seems to be one focused on how individuals act in various situations.

Works Cited
Beowulf and Grendel, Dir. Sturla Gunnarson. Perf. Gerard Butler and Sarah Polly. Anchor Bay Entertainment Inc., 2005. DVD.
Gardener, John. Grendel, New York: Vintage, 1989. Print.

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