The Definition Of Heroism In Beowulf

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Karma is the destiny you earn through your actions and behaviors; when you act greedy and loathsome to others, you end up worse than the ones you looked down on. In Beowulf, translated by Burton Raffel, and Grendel, written by John Gardner, Unferth is an underrepresented character who is marginalized by others, especially Beowulf, and portrayed as unheroic due to him killing his own brothers. However, deep inside he is the most heroic character of all. In Beowulf, society defines heroism as all about fame and glory, something Unferth does not have, thus making him unheroic; in Grendel, Unferth finds his own definition of heroism as dynamic and realizes that he can be the hero of his own life, not anybody else’s. In Beowulf, plentiful adjectives…show more content…
Grendel and Unferth’s conversation digs deep into a true definition of heroism. Grendel thinks that Unferth is utterly innocent and wants Unferth to find an alternative heroism. Unferth, thus, wants to fight Grendel to the end and almost wants to be killed by Grendel, believing that “[that is] inner heroism,” since “no man above [him] will ever know whether [he] died here or fled to the hills like a coward” (Gardner 88). He wants to convince himself that being killed by a monster is heroic, at least to his definition. Furthermore, Unferth believes that heroes “see values beyond what’s possible,” but the values “[kill] him...ultimately, yet “makes the whole struggle of humanity worthwhile,” showing Grendel that fame and glory help a person live on but also kill a person (Gardner 89). This quote proves that Unferth is starting to think differently: that heroism is ultimately meaningless. Thus, Unferth goes as far as to committing suicide if Grendel would not kill him, but when Grendel maintains that suicides are cowardly, Unferth gives up, like an innocent child. Even though Unferth lives on depressed, he now knows that there is an alternative meaning to heroism and can live up to his own expectations and not the
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