Beowulf, a rousing Old English poem of man and monster, narrates the rise and fall of a superhuman hero named Beowulf. It is the interpretation of some readers that he declines markedly through the poem. This essay will explore that point of view.
In Beowulf, the main character, a Geat warrior named Beowulf, possesses extraordinary qualities: “He was the strongest of men alive in that day, mighty and noble.” Upon spotting Beowulf approaching, the sea-guard of the Danes says, “Never have I seen a greater man on earth…” King Hrothgar of the Danes says of Beowulf, “Seafarers who took gifts to the Geats say that he has the strength of 30 men in his hand grip.” Beowulf chooses to fight Grendel by himself and without shield or weapons; previously the hero slew nine sea monsters with his sword. And he is fully willing to sacrifice his very life for this: “… I alone will fulfill the wish of your people … or die in the foe’s grasp.” Beowulf consciously chooses to act in a superhuman manner: “I shall perform the deeds of a hero or I have passed my last day in this mead hall.” Even Grendel recognizes the hero’s superior strength: “The criminal knew he had not met in this middle-earth another with such a grip.” Other warriors when thinking of Beowulf “would quickly compose a skillful tale in words.” Hrothgar refers to Beowulf as “the best of warriors.” The Danish queen Wealhtheow compliments after Grendel’s defeat, “You have earned forever the praise of men from near and far.” Hrothgar expounds on good warriors: “This is the best-born man – my friend Beowulf … the best of warriors.” When the dragon burns the mead hall of the Geats and Beowulf prepares to retaliate, he “scorned a host, a...
... middle of paper ...
...hat time he is sorely lacking in a strong faith in God, which was the cause of his earlier successes, besides his extraodinary strength. Weakened by this lack and by an avaricious atitude, he fails not only against the dragon but also morally.
Chickering, Howell D.. Beowulf A dual-Language Edition. New York: Anchor Books, 1977.
Fry, Donald K.. “Introduction.” In TheBeowulf Poet, edited by Donald K. Fry. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968.
Goldsmith, Margaret E.. “The Corruption of Beowulf.” In Readings on Beowulf, edited by Stephen P. Thompson. San Diego: Greenhaven Press,1998.
Shippey, T.A.. “The World of the Poem.” In Beowulf – Modern Critical Interpretations, edited by Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987.
Thompson, Stephen P, editor. Readings on Beowulf. San Diego: Greenhaven Press,1998.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Beowulf is an Heroic Elegy There is considerable debate as to whether the poem Beowulf is an epic narrative poem or an heroic elegy, a poem celebrating the fantastic achievements of its great hero, and also expressing sorrow or lamentation for the hero’s unfortunate death. This essay intends to show that the poem is an heroic elegy. In “Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics” Tolkien states: We must dismiss, of course, from mind the notion that Beowulf is a “narrative poem,” that it tells a tale or intends to tell a tale sequentially.... [tags: Epic of Beowulf Essay]
3262 words (9.3 pages)
- The Hero’s Death in Beowulf Some literary scholars maintain that Beowulf developed character flaws through the course of the long narrative poem, and that at the time of his death he was a victim of pride, avarice, selfishness and an inordinate craving for glory. The purpose of this essay is to show that he was a tremendous hero from beginning to end. Towards the end of the poem, when the fire-dragon ravaged the Geatish land and burned down King Beowulf’s mead-hall: To the good king it was great anguish, pain deep in mind.... [tags: Epic Beowulf herobeo]
1196 words (3.4 pages)
- Is Beowulf an Heroic Elegy or an Epic Narrative. There is considerable debate as to whether the poem Beowulf is an epic narrative poem or an heroic elegy. Which is it. This essay intends to present both sides of the story. Some great literary scholars think that the poem is an heroic elegy, celebrating the fantastic achievements of its great hero, and also expressing sorrow or lamentation for the hero’s unfortunate death. In “Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics” Tolkien states: We must dismiss, of course, from mind the notion that Beowulf is a “narrative poem,” that it tells a tale or intends to tell a tale sequentially.... [tags: Epic of Beowulf Essay]
4713 words (13.5 pages)
- Beowulf In Beowulf, the three great fights are an interesting representative of man’s trust in God. We can see Beowulf’s ability to succeed decline with his need for weapons, armor, and the help of friends in Beowulf’s first battle, we see the true Christian spirit. While it is true that Beowulf is upholding the image of the hero, he is doing it for a very noble cause in this fight. Grendel, who Beowulf fights in this battle, is said to be from the race of Cain and so is in a feud with God.... [tags: Epic of Beowulf Essays]
965 words (2.8 pages)
- The World of Beowulf The poem Beowulf depicts a world inhabited by semi-civilized societies that are very loyal to members of their group, that are transitory, that have little security, that are made prey of, by even single monsters of huge strength (Thompson 16). In the poem the families or tribes that have banded together have formed their small societies. Ralph Arnold in his essay “Royal Halls – The Sutton Hoo Ship Burial,” says: “Lust for gold as a symbol of royal wealth and for gold to give away probably accounted for much of the warfare in which the early English kings indulged” (91).... [tags: Epic Beowulf essays]
972 words (2.8 pages)
- 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 vita... [tags: Epic of Beowulf Essays]
1907 words (5.4 pages)
- The Epic Hero Beowulf is characterized as an epic hero by possessing qualities in which common mortals lack, battling for the common good, and displaying honor in every act. An epic hero is the central character in an epic, a long narrative poem that recounts the adventures of a legendary hero in pursuit of a goal. According to Jankowski, “Understanding the significance of Beowulf 's acts requires an understanding of the key figures in the epic poem” (1). Epics have been used to preserve values and traditions.... [tags: Beowulf, Hero, Epic poetry, Hroðgar]
1048 words (3 pages)
- In the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf, whose author is unknown, many qualities of an epic hero are located within the confines of the protagonist. The main character, known as Beowulf, travels to Denmark in order to earn infinite glory in his king’s name. Doing so, he embarks on multiple quests to achieve holiness in the surrounding lands of Sweden. While in Denmark, Beowulf exhibits many traits of an Anglo-Saxon hero through his achievements in battle. During the course epic poem, Beowulf actions exemplify qualities of leadership, superhuman strength, and immense courage.... [tags: Beowulf, Hero, Epic poetry, Leadership]
1010 words (2.9 pages)
- Beowulf In the Anglo-Saxon epic poem of Beowulf, Beowulf is highly regarded as an epic hero; the poem itself is consisted of songs of glorification about him. During his era, Beowulf was very famous amongst his own people and others due to the fact that he has achieved great things. He has travelled and gone through many adventures which has greatly boosted his fame across the land. His character and personality, along with his great strength, has made him into an epic hero. Beowulf was a character that was given or blessed by the gods to the people during his time to be a saviour against evil and to become a just ruler.... [tags: Beowulf, Epic poetry, Hero, Grendel]
1323 words (3.8 pages)
- Beowulf an Epic Hero An epic hero according to Anglo-Saxon literature is a hero who is larger-than-life; someone with self-confidence, great strength, and the qualities of loyalty, bravery, and honor. Beowulf can be considered an epic hero for multiple reasons throughout “Beowulf.” Beowulf is a character constructed on all of the Anglo-Saxon epic hero qualifications. For starters, Beowulf is seen as a noble character, that is willing to provide security for the people by risking his own life. As a character, Beowulf conducts superhuman strength, and can complete impossible tasks.... [tags: Hero, Beowulf, Grendel's mother, Epic poetry]
1060 words (3 pages)
- Epic of Beowulf Essay - The Balance of Joy and Sorrow in Beowulf
- Epic of Beowulf Essay - The Author/Poet of Beowulf
- An Analysis of the Epic Poem, Beowulf - The Style of Beowulf
- Epic of Beowulf Essay - A True Literary Epic
- An Analysis of the Epic Poem, Beowulf - Anglo-Saxon Customs and Values Reflected in Beowulf
- Epic of Beowulf Essay - Ambiguous Allegories and Imperfect Symbols