Epic of Beowulf Essay - Beowulf as Anglo-Saxon Hero


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Beowulf - An Anglo-Saxon Hero


A hero is a person of distinguished courage who has outstanding qualities and abilities, who is admired for these having these aspects of their character and also admired for brave and noble acts. An Anglo-Saxon hero is a person who has good leadership qualities, is able and willing to provide people with a sense of security, and is willing to go into danger despite possible harm to themselves. These Anglo-Saxon heroes usually were kings or thanes because they distinguished themselves above others by doing a good for the greater of everyone. This person has to be willing to put their own lives on the line for the benefit of others.

There are several heroic characteristics, all of which Beowulf possesses. First of these characteristics is honor. Honor is showing a sense of integrity in one’s actions. When Beowulf went to the land of the Danes to kill Grendel, he did it not because he wanted money, but because he wanted to help out the Geats. Beowulf felt as if it was the right thing to do since he had been successful in past deeds which he proudly says in lines 321-322, where he says “They had in remembrance my courage and might. Many had seen me come safe from the conflict,”. Beowulf expected no reward for his action, but rather just being able to “put another notch in his belt.”

Another heroic characteristic, which Beowulf possesses, is bravery. Bravery is being able to go against the odds and possibly risk your life in the process. An example of Beowulf showing bravery is when he goes to slay the dragon even though all his men abandon him. He realizes that the dragon is more powerful than he is, but he will still not back down. In line 1493, he says “Not one foot’s space will I flee from the monster,” thus showing his true bravery by not giving up to the more powerful foe.

One more heroic characteristic of Beowulf is his strong sense of duty. This means that he is always devoted to his people, his king, and their security. An example of this is again when he goes to slay the dragon. He has no help, he realizes that the dragon is more powerful, and most importantly, he realizes that he will probably not be returning victorious from this battle.

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In other words, he will die. In lines 1470-1474, it says “Sad was his spirit, restless and ready, And the march of Fate immeasurably near; Fate that would strike, seek his soul’s treasure, And deal asunder the spirit and flesh. Not long was his life encased in the body!”

This basically means that Fate was soon to run its course and he would loose his life in battle. He had to and did go along with this because he was the king and it was his responsibility to provide security for his people. Even though it was his responsibility, he didn’t have to do it; he could have run away like others may have.

Overall, a hero is a person with distinguished qualities who goes against adversity to commit good deeds despite what could happen to them. A hero is a person who does things out of honor, bravery, and duty, not for rewards. Beowulf encompasses all of these qualities.


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