Beowulf’s obsession with power leads him to disregard everything else that should be important to a leader and a king, including his duties towards his citizens and his country. Before he is made king, Beowulf travels to Hrothgar’s kingdom to fight Grendel and achieve glory by defeating the widely feared monster. After he wins the fight with Grendel and defeats Grendel’s mother who seeks revenge for her son’s death, Beowulf announces his victories to Hrothgar and his court, claiming fame as a successful warrior. Along with his congratulations, Hrothgar also gives Beowulf a warning about the dangers of power: “Do not give way to pride. / For a brief while your strength is in bloom / but it fades quickly; and soon there will follow; illness or the sword to l...
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...5 - 577). Beowulf reveals the positive result of his fatal flaw through this boast – he is able to do what others cannot, ridding the world of dangers that not only give him wide fame and glory, but help those who live in fear of them.
Beowulf is a complex character that is cast as the ultimate hero and champion, whose greatest strength is also his greatest weakness. Though his obsession with power yield him courage and strength that allow him to defeat enemies most other warriors cannot bring themselves to fight, his unilateral quest for glory leaves his citizens and kingdom desolate and unprepared for the difficulties they face. Beowulf may be the greatest warrior of one of the greatest epics written, but as is said in the last words about him in the book, his most notable trait is not his greatness as a leader and king but that he is the “keenest to win fame”.
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