The Fate of a Hero
“For a brief while your strength is in bloom/ but it fades quickly; and soon there will follow/ illness or the sword to lay you low… and death will arrive, dear warrior, to sweep you away”(1761-8). Hrothgar bestows his wisdom onto Beowulf after Beowulf has defeated Grendel and his mother. Hrothgar reminds him not to let pride overcome him for everything is eventually defeated due to the power of fate. This exemplifies a theme woven throughout the story of Beowulf. Beowulf is presented as a valiant hero, slaying beasts with his mighty strength and demonstrating the importance of the balance between wisdom and strength, but as the story unfolds Beowulf slowly loses his vitality until eventually he is defeated. This shows the power of fate has on everyone; no exceptions. This paper will demonstrate the heroic qualities of Beowulf and show his gradual decline through the approaches and outcomes of his three battles with the monsters.
In the beginning of the story, Beowulf’s journey brings him to the land of the Danes where he is first intruded upon by a coast guard. Immediately upon seeing Beowulf the coast guard remarks on his impressive appearance. “Nor have I seen/ a mightier man-at-arms on this Earth/ than the one standing here: unless I am mistaken,/ he is truly noble” (247-50). A warrior named Wulfgar, impressed by Beowulf and his men, delivers his request for passage into the land of Denmark from King of the Danes, Hrothgar. His family background and reputation are familiar to Hrothgar, and he eagerly welcomes them to Denmark. Wulfgar reports back to Beowulf, “My lord, the conquering king of Danes, bids me announce that he knows you ancestry: also that he welcomes you here to Herot…” (391-3). This scene shows the importance of appearance and reputation, without which Beowulf may never have been admitted to the land of the Danes at all.
Once he gains passage into Denmark, Beowulf talks with Hrothgar and his closest followers in the mead hall about how he will destroy this beast or die trying.
“I meant to perform to the uttermost what your people wanted or perish in the attempt, in the fiend’s clutches. And I shall fulfill that purpose, prove myself with a proud deed or meet my death here in the mead-hall” (634-8).
His speech to Hrothgar shows Beowulf’s courage and confidence in his abilities. He also chooses not use any weapons or ar...
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...e failed his people. His choice to conquer this dragon seems to be the obvious choice for a warrior. He must protect his people. But Beowulf seems so caught up in the surreal threats such as, monsters and dragons, he fails to realize the real peril he has left his people in. Beowulf is aware of his age and uneasy feeling toward his success yet he chooses to take on the dragon anyways. Although the dragon is defeated the Geat people are presented with even greater danger of the Sweds who will surely pounce on their nation.
Therefore, throughout the story Beowulf is presented as the ultimate hero; demonstrating the strength of thirty men in his grasp while also using his powerful insight to avoid unnecessary conflict. His surreal strength and wisdom allow Beowulf to accomplish great feats within his time. He not only saves the land of the Danes form the terrorizing monsters but serves and protects his own people as well. Despite his heroic qualities, his humanity is proven by showing his eventual downfall; expressing that even the greatest heroes cannot live forever. Beowulf’s heroic qualities can only hold him above the rest until fate takes its toll and he too becomes defeated.