Essay on Beowulf: The Selfless Hero

Essay on Beowulf: The Selfless Hero

Length: 730 words (2.1 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Beowulf: The Selfless Hero

Beowulf is an epic poem that describes the heroics of a man with superhuman strength and bravery to go with it. The poem starts with a journey across the sea to defeat an enemy that has plagued the land of Herot for twelve years. The poem ends with Beowulf’s final deed of defeating a dragon that was plaguing his own land, but with the defeat of the dragon also comes the death of Beowulf. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a poem of bravery by one of King Arthur’s knights. Sir Gawain takes up the deed of playing a Christmas game with the challenging Green Knight. The Green Knight takes a blow from an ax at the hand of Sir Gawain, and in one year and one day, the Green Knight is to reciprocate the action to Sir Gawain. While Sir Gawain was heroic in his deed, Beowulf shows a certain selflessness in his bouts makes him a better hero than Sir Gawain.

Sir Gawain was heroic in seeking out the Green Knight to finish the challenge that was brought to King Arthur’s men. “Said Gawain, ‘Strike once more; /I shall neither flinch nor flee; /But if my head falls to the floor /There is no mending me!’” (lns. 2280-2283) There was no physical power that forced Sir Gawain to keep true to his word. Gawain sought out the Green Knight, just as he had promised, and was now about to receive the blow that would send him to his death. This quote shows that Sir Gawain was ready to be dealt his fate, and that he knew there was no way for him to survive as the Green Knight had done earlier in the poem. This shows a very human side to Sir Gawain as he appears somewhat afraid of death, but ready to face it nonetheless. It is this willingness and readiness to accept death at the hand of the Green Knight that makes Sir Gawain a...

... middle of paper ... his willingness to lay down his life to fulfill the Green Knight’s request of King Arthur’s men. Beowulf is known among the people as a selfless hero in their times of need. Not only did Beowulf have immense physical strength, but he also had a burning desire for his people’s safety. It is for this selflessness and concern for others that Beowulf is the better hero.

Works Cited
Beowulf. The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Volume A. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2006. 34-100.
Sharma, Manish "Metalepsis and Monstrosity: The Boundaries of Narrative Structure in Beowulf." Studies in Philology 102.3 (2005): 247-279. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 30 Sept. 2009.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Volume A. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2006. 162-213.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Beowulf, The Oldest Remaining Epic Of English Literature Essay

- 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....   [tags: Beowulf, Hero, Denmark, Beowulf]

Better Essays
755 words (2.2 pages)

Beowulf : An Epic Hero Essay

- In the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf, whose author is unknown, many qualities of an epic hero are located within the confines of the protagonist. The main character, known as Beowulf, travels to Denmark in order to earn infinite glory in his king’s name. Doing so, he embarks on multiple quests to achieve holiness in the surrounding lands of Sweden. While in Denmark, Beowulf exhibits many traits of an Anglo-Saxon hero through his achievements in battle. During the course epic poem, Beowulf actions exemplify qualities of leadership, superhuman strength, and immense courage....   [tags: Beowulf, Hero, Epic poetry, Leadership]

Better Essays
1010 words (2.9 pages)

Beowulf Is The Perfect Representation Of A Hero Essay

- A hero is someone who is admired for their courage and bravery, as well as their noble accomplishments. They are respected by almost everyone, due to their kindness and charitable mindset, that drives them to fight for the good of others. Beowulf is the perfect representation of a hero, based on multiple characteristics that he displays throughout the novel. Along with his characteristics, Beowulf also takes on many “hero like” challenges and tasks. In the novel, Beowulf is praised and admired throughout the kingdom for his bravery, humility, and selflessness....   [tags: Beowulf, Heorot, Hroðgar, Grendel]

Better Essays
768 words (2.2 pages)

The Heroic Journey Of Beowulf Essay

- A hero’s journey begins with an epic tale of bravery and achievements. The journey of any hero starts with the hero himself conveying to the audience that he or she possesses noble qualities. Beowulf shows many examples of heroism through characteristics such as, heritage physical strength, and leadership. Beowulf stood strong against the most daring evils and quests within the story and this is just one of the many characteristics this legendary hero possessed. The story of Beowulf explained that he had royal blood from his father, who was a king, and that he also contained the strength of 30 men in each play of his hand....   [tags: Beowulf, Epic poetry, Leadership, Hero]

Better Essays
1077 words (3.1 pages)

Heroism in Beowulf Essay

- Heroism in Beowulf A hero is one who is not only strong, but one who uses his strength to uphold others. A hero is humble, philanthropic, magnanimous and selfless, a humanitarian at best. In the unprecedented epic Beowulf, the tale’s namesake exemplifies every characteristic befitting an Anglo-Saxon hero. He is honest, loyal, and courageous. He portrays these characteristics in the battle against Grendel, the affray with Grendel’s mother, and the fight against the dragon that inevitably ended his life....   [tags: Epic of Beowulf Essay]

Better Essays
517 words (1.5 pages)

Beowulf is an Epic Hero Essay example

- In the epic poem Beowulf, the protagonist Beowulf is shown as a hero with extrodinary strength. This is not what makes him a hero. By definition, a hero is a man of exceptional quality. However this term does not do Beowulf justice. His self-imposed purpose in life is to help others, and eventually sacrifices his own life in doing so. Beowulf’s battle with the dragon serves as a critique of the notion that Beowulf is a hero. The Dragon section displays many of Beowulf’s heoric characteristics. Beowulf establishes himself as a hero by fighting the dragon, exemplifing strength and courage when fighting the dragon, and sacrificing himself so that others can live....   [tags: Epic of Beowulf Essays]

Better Essays
864 words (2.5 pages)

Epic of Beowulf Essay - Beowulf and the Hero Myth

- Beowulf and the Hero Myth Beowulf contains a myriad of different heroic ethical and social values. Most of these values are ingeniously rooted within, or made evident by the opposing forces of the poem. The initial opposing force arrives in the form of Grendel, a vile creature who's rampages mirror that of a modern serial killer. As the poem draws toward the conclusion, it focuses on the dragon, a creature developed by the poet to solidify the rise and fall of the archetypal hero....   [tags: Epic of Beowulf Essay]

Free Essays
866 words (2.5 pages)

Essay on Does the Hero Decline in the Epic of Beowulf?

- Does the Hero Decline in Beowulf.        Beowulf, a rousing Old English poem of man and monster, narrates the rise and fall of a superhuman hero named Beowulf. It is the interpretation of some readers that he declines markedly through the poem. This essay will explore that point of view. In Beowulf, the main character, a Geat warrior named Beowulf, possesses extraordinary qualities: “He was the strongest of men alive in that day, mighty and noble.”  Upon spotting Beowulf approaching, the sea-guard of the Danes says, “Never have I seen a greater man on earth…”  King Hrothgar of the Danes says of Beowulf, “Seafarers who took gifts to the Geats say that he has the strength of 30 men in his ha...   [tags: Epic of Beowulf Essay]

Better Essays
1478 words (4.2 pages)

Essay on The Hero’s Death in the Epic of Beowulf

- The Hero’s Death in Beowulf        Some literary scholars maintain that Beowulf developed character flaws through the course of the long narrative poem, and that at the time of his death he was a victim of pride, avarice, selfishness and an inordinate craving for glory. The purpose of this essay is to show that he was a tremendous hero from beginning to end.   Towards the end of the poem, when the fire-dragon ravaged the Geatish land and burned down King Beowulf’s mead-hall:                                                To the good king it was great anguish,                     pain deep in mind....   [tags: Epic Beowulf herobeo]

Better Essays
1196 words (3.4 pages)

Epic of Beowulf Essay

- It is common opinion that Beowulf was written by a Christian poet. This was probably true because at the time when it was written, most of the few people who knew how to read and write were in the clergy. There are various references within the poem to elements of the Christian religion. However, the story is about Pagan people and certain aspects of their culture are even glorified. The ambiguity of Beowulf’s religious content has caused confusion as to what significance religion had in inspiring the author and in what manner the author meant to inspire or influence his audience....   [tags: Epic of Beowulf Essays]

Free Essays
1466 words (4.2 pages)