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Beowulf’s fight against the dragon shows Beowulf as a hero. Although Beowulf had previously defeated two other foes, he stands fast and fights his most formidable foe yet, the dragon. Dragons were notoriously difficult to kill, and the poem states that it was a great man, who could kill a dragon, even if it meant losing one's life. While others cower away Beowulf fights the dragon. Beowulf defeats the dragon but loses his life in the same instance. Like the classical hero Beowulf loses his special status in death. Beowulf sought no compensation for his services; the mere satisfaction of helping others was pay enough. Like his two previous battles Beowulf fights for those who could not fight for themselves.
While fighting the Dragon Beowulf shows feats of strength and courage that define him as a hero. The classical hero displays a special quality that separates him from the rest of
society. In Beowulf, Beowulf shows extraordinary courage and strength that gives him special status. This notion is shown, when Beowulf fights Grendel and Grendel’s mother, but it is especially noticeable when he fights the dragon. When Beowulf fought Grendel others had the courage to attempt to fight him. The same is true with Grendel’s mother. When Beowulf goes to fight the Dragon, the other warriors cower away into the woods. Beowulf shows his courage by fighting the Dragon. Even when Beowulf is fighting the Dragon and realizes that his sword can do no damage he continues to fight. After Beowulf is on the verge of death he shows a combination of courage and strength by delivering the death blow to the Dragon, and not just laying down to die. Beowulf’s strength is shown when he is able to actually do battle with the Dragon; any normal man would have fallen to the dragon immediately.
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Beowulf’s selfless act of sacrificing his life against the Dragon so that others could live define him more so as a hero than any other action. Beowulf displays actions of selflessness through out the poem. His first action was by coming over to Heorot and defeating Grendel. After peace is achieved he walks into certain death to stop the terror of the Dragon that has been destroying his kingdom. Instead of having his men join him in battle he sends them off so that he may fight the Dragon alone and not risk other’s lives. After the Dragon is defeated he asks that all the spoils go to all those in the kingdom so that could prosper. Destroying the presence of evil in the kingdom of Heorot was an exceptional feet, but what makes Beowulf stand out is his purpose. He fought, neither for the glory nor riches, but for the sake of the people. This quality alone is exceptional enough to make Beowulf a hero.
Many critics believe that Beowulf’s strength is what defines him as a hero in the fight with the Dragon. Although Beowulf has extraordinary strength this alone does not make him a
hero. Beowulf’s strength was not enough to kill the Dragon. Beowulf’s courage and selflessness was what ultimately defeated the Dragon. Beowulf needs the aid of Wiglaf to defeat the Dragon, because the Dragon was too powerful. In the beginning of the poem Beowulf’s definitive heroic characteristic is his strength. However in his battle with the Dragon he displays other characteristics. If Beowulf’s sole heroic quality was his strength than when he discovered he was not as strong as the Dragon he would have either fled or called for help. His courage and self-sacrifice is what aided him in his defeat of the Dragon. Even his death is heroic. Beowulf’s death encourages his men to have courage in themselves and at the same time inspires them to new heights. A hero more than anything needs the confidence and courage to defeat a villain.
Beowulf’s fight against the Dragon shows his heroic characteristics. He displays his heroism by fighting the Dragon, displaying feats of strength and courage while fighting the Dragon, and by his selflessness. Beowulf’s battle is the climax of the story and fittingly it is also his highest showing of heroism. The other two battles build upon each other. Each one showing more heroic qualities than the other. His heroic qualities are simple at first because only his strength is shown, but when he sacrifices his life to kill the Dragon, he gives up the greatest treasure he owned and showed his best heroic quality.