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Epic of Beowulf Essay - Qualities of a Hero

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Beowulf:  Qualities of a Hero


A hero is someone that helps others no matter what the situation. There are many qualities that a hero must posses such as bravery, courage, strength, intelligence and honor. These qualities alone are not enough to make a hero. They must also be pure at heart, fight for the good of mankind and only fight when it is to protect the people and not out of revenge. Beowulf is everything a hero should be, but contains a few qualities that a hero should not posses. When Beowulf sailed with his men to Herot he had one goal, to rid the hall of Grendal. Beowulf was under no obligation to destroy Grendal and never asked for anything in return for his services. A true hero would never ask for money or anything of value. He put his life at risk to save the people of Herot, who he didn’t even know, out of his own good nature Great strength has been a trait that has been identified with heroes in many stories and legends. Than he saw hanging on the wall, a heavy Sword, hammered by giants, strong And blessed with their magic, the best of all weapons But so massive that no ordinary man could lift... (II. 1557-1560) Beowulf possessed great strength that separated him from other men. Being able to use a sword that no ordinary man was able to carry gives the feeling that Beowulf is something more than a human being. It makes him special and causes him to stand out from all other men. Fame is something that makes a hero more noted. Beowulfs popularity had spread all over the world. He never let this go to his head and he never thought that he was better than everyone else because of it. “Your fame is everywhere, my friend,/Reaches to the ends of the earth, and you hold it in your heart wisely...” (II.1704-1706). A hero should not be foolish or full of himself. Unferth said: You’re Beowulf, are you- the same Boastful fool who fought a swimming Match with Brecca, both of you daring and young and proud,exploring the deepest Seas, risking your lives for no reason But the danger? (II. 506-511) A hero should not have to prove to himself or to anyone else that he is brave, fearless or courageous. If he is pure a heart and his intentions are good then he can be considered a true hero. By engaging in this foolish contest, Beowulf nearly got himself killed trying to prove he was better than Brecca. Jealousy is never a good trait, especially for a hero. Revenge is never a trait of a true hero. A hero has no scores to settle. A true hero should fight only to protect others and not out of his own rage. “The Geats/Deserved revenge; Beowulf Their leader/And lord, began to plan it...” (II. 2335-2337). Beowulf was simply trying to avenge the deaths of his men, but revenge and hatred make the strongest hero weak. That is why, I believe, Beowulf lost to the dragon. It wasn’t because he wasn’t strong enough or fast enough. The dragon was filled with evil and Beowulf was also filled with his own evil that he couldn’t control. Being that he was filled with good prior to this battle it lead to his demise. As Beowulf got older he became more sensible and wiser. When he fought Grendal there was no doubt in his mind that he could defeat him. He rushed into battle without a plan and without thinking. He had dropped his shield and helmet and went to fight almost unarmed. He new nothing of the dragon, it’s strengths weaknesses or powers. When he got older he was more sensible and wiser. He found out what the dragon was capable of and what it’s powers were. He knew that it could breath fire, so he got a shield that would protect him. He planed his attack and thought it trough carefully. He was doubtful about himself and knew that this battle would probably be his last. He wasn’t the head strong man that he had been. Beowulf was very heroic, but he lacked in areas that would qualify him as a hero. Many people considered him a hero, his followers, his subjects and those that met him. Even with his flaws I view him as a hero because a true hero isn’t perfect, according to Greek Mythology. A hero is what people see him as. The criteria for a hero is debatable, but for the most part the characteristics are the same.

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