Beowulf, The Oldest Remaining Epic Of English Literature Essay

Beowulf, The Oldest Remaining Epic Of English Literature Essay

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Beowulf, the oldest remaining epic in English literature, serves as an excellent example of the time’s perception of a great leader. The poem as a whole is filled with instances that demonstrate Beowulf’s great leadership skills, and how they evolve over time. Beowulf’s bravery when affronting the monsters, the loyalty for his king Hygelac, and the attentions shown towards his kinsmen are some traits that make him a respectable king.
Beowulf first shows fairness, an attribute worthy of a great leader, when getting ready to fight Grendel. The Geat warrior knows that “when it comes to fighting,” (127) he is “as dangerous any day as Grendel” (127). For this reason, he decides to fight the monster without extra help; In other words, Beowulf wants a fair fight with “no weapons…for either this night” (127). Even Hrothgar, the Danish king, acknowledges the traits that make Beowulf a great leader. He is grateful for Beowulf’s presence, and trusts him with their safety. As a matter of fact, he even says that “never, since [his] hand could hold a shield [has he] entrusted or given control of the Danes’ hall to anyone but [Beowulf]” (127).
Another characteristic that a great leader should possess is loyalty. Beowulf demonstrates how loyal he is to his king Hygelac when he is about to go into the deadly lake. He tells Hrothgar to “be sure…to send Hygelac the treasures [he] received” for killing Grendel. This example not only shows Beowulf’s loyalty, but also his selflessness and pure motifs for helping the Danes. Furthermore, immediately after killing Grendel’s mother, Beowulf decides to return home to his king (153). Once again, Hrothgar admires Beowulf’s leadership skills, and believes “the seafaring Geats won’t find a man worthier of acc...


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...to let the dragon hurt his people. He even tells them that “this fight in not [theirs], nor is up to any man except [him] to measure his strength against the monster or to prove his worth” (169). Thus, it can be assumed that Beowulf wants to face the dragon himself to make sure it is done right, and to leave this world with the certainty that he did everything possible for the well-being of his kingdom.
Altogether, the epic poem conveys the different characteristics that a leader or king should have to be considered great by using different examples of Beowulf’s heroic deeds. Some of these are evident when Beowulf faces the three monsters, when he displays loyalty to his king, and when he protects his people above all things. Given these points, Beowulf is considered a selfless hero, a brave king, and the perfect example of what was considered great at that time.

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