The Challenges Of An Epic Hero Of Beowulf

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Beowulf is an epic Old English poem from about a thousand year ago. Both the author and the date are left as a mystery (Lapidge, The Origins of Beowulf: From Vergil to Wiglaf). Scholars have been able to make a rough estimate as to when the poem was written, guessing that it was between 700 and 1000 A.D. The story is believed to have been passed down for a couple hundred years before it was written down (Lapidge, The Origins of Beowulf: From Vergil to Wiglaf). Beowulf is a story about one brave man’s journey to defeat a terrifying beast. The angered monster Grendel lives within the swampland of Heorot (Heaney, Beowulf). Heorot was created by King Hrothgar of Denmark, and is a mead hall where his men can relax, drink and celebrate their victories.…show more content…
The definition of an epic hero is a hero who possesses qualities that mortals lack. They have unwavering bravery, extreme intelligence, strength, fine-tuned skills, and a passionate drive (Jankowski, Why Beowulf Is an Epic Hero). Beowulf displays his bravery numerous times throughout the poem, from the very beginning when he elected to help Hrothgar with Grendel all the way to the very end when he fought the dragon to defend Geatland. Beowulf’s intelligence comes out while he’s in battle. While his opponents were all monsters who were angry and greedy, Beowulf was calm and wise. On line 737 is describes him to be “eagerly watching” as Grendel approaches, sizing him up because he knows of Grendel’s lack of intelligence (Heaney, Beowulf). The other traits, such as his skills and strength are showcased during his battle with Grendel at Heorot. The two were battling and Beowulf ends up ripping his arm off to defeat him (Heaney, Beowulf). The other side to an epic hero is their vulnerability. Each one, despite their countless strengths, contains some sort of weakness or downfall (Jankowski, Why Beowulf Is an Epic Hero). Unfortunately, Beowulf’s flaw lies in his old age. Throughout his 50 years of being king, he lost a lot of his youthful strength and skill, which wasn’t a serious problem for him until the dragon was provoked and began causing havoc to the Geats. He volunteered to fight the dragon one-on-one just like an epic hero…show more content…
His kingship is portrayed as more of a reward for his heroic behaviors than the focus of him as a character. After his heroic acts in Denmark, he returned home to Geatland and eventually came to rule over his home land. For fifty years he ruled, and those fifty years were very successful years for the Geats (Heaney, Beowulf). No foreign countries caused any harm to them, no monsters were harming the people, and they saw lots of wealth and fortune come to them during the period. Despite the fact that Beowulf had to battle the dragon as a king, it’s more comparable to his younger years when he was just a hero. From the very beginning, Beowulf had done nothing but heroic acts. To focus on him as a king would be missing the point of Beowulf as a character. He was selfless enough to take his men to a foreign nation and assist them in their troubles with Grendel and his mother. He put his life on the line numerous times, and prevailed every time. The poem is littered with his different heroic acts. When everyone else in Denmark was too cowardly to face Grendel themselves, Beowulf was the one to do it. The same pattern occurred when Grendel’s mother become the threat. He went down to fight her, and told his troops to stay behind (Heaney, Beowulf). These are not the acts that a typical king would make, as a king in a typical epic or story would stay home and send his troops out to

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