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The Superhuman Powers of Beowulf

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The Superhuman Powers of Beowulf


        Beowulf was the first literary super hero. Like the common day superman,

Beowulf has ordinary human characteristics, as well as superhuman powers. Like

the Anglo-Saxons of Beowulf's time, he is boastful, manly, and willing to outdo

his fellow neighbor. The only difference between him and the rest of the Anglo-

Saxons is that he possesses extreme amounts of physical power.


      Grendel, the antagonist of the story, was feared by all men. He ate

humans and attacked them in their sleep. Many men had attempted to kill Grendel,

but until Beowulf, no man had ever succeeded. " Grendel ruled, fought with

the righteous, One against many and won..."(line 81,82).


      Despite the probability of Beowulf's death against Grendel, he still

insists on attacking him and defeating him. Beowulf kills Grendel in an unusual

way. Rather than attacking him with a sword like every other Geat, he grabs onto

Grendel's arm and squeezes until the torture is unbearable. Grendel loses his

strength, his body parts, and his blood in this violent scene. He later bleeds

to death. "Saw that his strength was deserting him, his claws Bound fast,

Higlac's brave follower tearing at his hands."(line 464-466)


      Beowulf's unusual and courageous method of killing Grendel demonstrates

his bravery and physical strength. Before, Unferth had taunted Beowulf about his

foolish bravery but when he and all the rest of the Geats saw that Beowulf's

strength and power were worth boasting about, they were humbled. To prove

Beowulf was powerful, he hung Grendel's arm, claw, and shoulders from the

rafters of the meeting hall."No Dane doubted The victory, for the proof, hanging

high From the rafters where Beowulf had hung it, was the monster's Arm, claw and

shoulder and all."(line 485-488)


      Had Beowulf attacked Grendel with a sword, the events would not have

turned out the same. Many men before Beowulf had attacked Grendel with a sword

and all with no effect to Grendel. If Beowulf had used a sword instead of his

bare hands to kill Grendel, not only would Grendel have survived but the brawl

would not have such a significance in the history of the Geats. Beowulf would

not seem as brave, and even if Beowulf had died, the battle would not have been

as legendary. There would be no arm, shoulder, or claw to symbolize Grendel's

death or stunned crowds to admire Beowulf's courage.


      Beowulf's quest to conquer Grendel was successful, not only did he prove

to everyone that he was a "true man" but he conquered one of the most feared

creatures of the time. Beowulf's life after Grendel's death was blessed and his

courageous acts from then and afterwards reached legendary heights.

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"The Superhuman Powers of Beowulf." 04 Dec 2016

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