Why is Beowulf considered a hero?
Many epics have been written and forgotten. Yet, the epic of Beowulf has stayed as one of the premiere examples of a heroic epic. This brings an inevitable question to mind. Why is Beowulf considered a hero?
In the beginning of the story, a mythical monster named Grendel who is attacking King Hrothgar
hall Herot. When Beowulf
hears of this tragedy, he volunteers to go and fight the mythical beast. The author wrote, “So Beowulf chose the mightiest men he could find the bravest and the best of the Geats, fourteen In all.” Once Beowulf arrives, he is given a feast and then decides to stay in Herot overnight to confront Grendel. Grendel then arrives and kills one of the Geats before Beowulf can get into the battle. Beowulf then goes hand-to-hand against Grendel and ends up tearing off Grendel’s shoulder. Grendel then retreats to his lair to die. This is only a mere example of why Beowulf is a hero.
After Beowulf tears off Grendel’s arm, he hangs it from the rafters of Herot. Grendel’s irate mother attacks Herot and takes her son’s arm and retreats back to her lair.
Beowulf is called upon again to defeat this monster. Beowulf puts on his armour and takes the sword Hrunting and descends into the monster’s lair. Grendel’s mother quickly grabs Beowulf and takes him to the battle arena. Once there, Beowulf fights and finds his sword cannot pierce the monster’s hide. So once again, Beowulf throws his sword aside and fights hand-to-hand. Yet, he could not defeat her with his hands alone. Then Beowulf sees, “hanging on the wall, a heavy, Sword, hammered by giants, strong And blessed with their magic, the best of all weapons.” Taking the sword and holding it high above his head he strikes the monster in the neck cutting deep into the skin, breaking bones and all. Thus ending his second heroic battle with a mythical beast and proving that he is indeed worthy of praise. Yet, this is not the greatest of his deeds.
Then 50 years later an event occurs that undoubtedly classifies Beowulf as a hero. A dragon attacks Beowulf’s kingdom and his terrorizing his people. Rather than send warriors to fight the dragon, Beowulf goes himself to fight the dragon. Taking sword and shield he engages the beast in combat. However, Beowulf runs into complications with this beast, “the iron Shield, and for a time it held, protected Beowulf as he’d planned; then it began to melt.” If that were not the least of his problems, “he raised his sword And struck at the dragon’s scaly hide. The ancient blade broke, bit into The monster’s skin, drew blood, but cracked And failed him before it went deep enough.” Beowulf finds himself in defeat for the first time. Then Wiglaf, one of his kinsmen, comes to his aid and together they defeat the dragon. Yet, Beowulf is mortally wounded and is about to die. Before dying, he passes the throne to Wiglaf and gives thanks to God for the treasure they receive from the dragon’s hoard. Thus the hero dies, after fighting a foe that once again threatened a people.
Why is Beowulf considered a hero? Through his many heroic deeds, whether they be fighting Grendel, his mother, or the dragon. In his defense of the needy and his willingness to sacrifice his life to benefit others, Beowulf has definitely earned the right to be called a hero. In fact, he can also be looked at as a man who embodied the knightly virtues of his medieval counterparts. Beowulf is not only a hero, but also an example to all warriors of what they should strive to be.