The Lead of Beowulf
Beowulf displays the qualities of a good leader that were mentioned in the speech given by Hrothgar. The speech speaking of the vices and virtues of great political leaders contains many of the same qualities that Beowulf embodies. His boastfulness, generosity and kindness are evidence that he is a good leader and provides for his people. Although the qualities he posses may not be the best-fit qualities of a common man, they are admirable qualities of a strong leader.
Beowulf’s high self-regard acts as a promise to his people. It is a promise saying that he will provide for them and he can keep his country in order and away from harm. Because Beowulf speaks very highly of himself he is required to support his claims and give to the people. Hrothgar claims that flaunting is a way to keep the Geats happy because they believe what he says. “I will stand by my word make good my promises. To your Geat-friends now will make you come with counsel courage for their hearts through long comfort years”(1706). The Geats need someone to believe in and who would believe in someone with low self-esteem or someone who didn’t believe in themselves. The people need assurance and they found that assurance in Beowulf. Beowulf reassures his people that the Dragon will be dealt with and gives them courage to withstand this threat. “ I lived in my youth through hard war-moments--- now here I am ready battle weary king battered with winters for final glory-time if that grim hall burner will come to meet me from his mound of gold” (pg. 81). Beowulf wants to reassure his people that he can once again succeed in defeating his enemies. The people believe that Beowulf will succeed again. Beowulf’s obligations to the people require him to slay the dragon. Beowulf’s self centeredness is what makes him an ideal leader in the eyes of Hrothgar.
Another reason Beowulf is seen as a good leader is because he does not share the characteristics that were spoken of Heremod. Heremod was portrayed as a bad leader due to his murderous attitude and actions. The vices of Heremod characterize a bad leader and Hrothgar points them out like in his treatment of the Danes.
Not so kind was Heremod to the kin of Ecwela care heavy Shield Danes—he brought them no joy but baleful murder ...
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...y of your strength lasts for a while but not long after Sickness or spear point will sever you from life. (1762-64)
…or bane-bearing age – the brightness of your eye will dim and darken. (1767-68)
Hrothgar predicts that Beowulf’s pride would be his demise and he was correct because Beowulf chooses to fight the dragon alone in his older years. Beowulf is no longer in his prime and he knows he will not be around forever and hopes to make a final “score” and let the people live out the rest of their days wealthy and without worry. But Beowulf still wants to fight the beast alone. “Our old gift lord meant to manage this monster hot battle alone once again with his great wonder strength armed with a war name earned through a lifetime forged now with deeds” (2642-46). Beowulf is not fighting these monsters because he believes he is a god but because he wishes to carry out a promise he gave long ago to his people. His only desire is to make the Geats happy.
Beowulf risks his life for his people. He was the apitamy of great kings and was dedicated to his country and people. His promise to the people and his devotion, generosity and kindness are the reasons he is Hrothgar’s ideal leader.
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