Beowulf is a Germanic poem that described the journey of the great warrior Beowulf. Throughout the poem, Beowulf performs epic feats from defeating the monster Grendel, and then his mother, to facing a fire breathing dragon. Beowulf had characteristics that made him a great warrior, and later a great king. Beowulf’s character was an example of what the Germanic people expected from their warriors and kings. Beowulf was the ideal example of what a great king should be according to the Germanic people. Throughout the poem, Beowulf exhibited qualities of courage, generosity, and loyalty all of which were important to the Germanic people for their warriors and kings to possess.
The Germanic people expected their kings to show exceptional courage, and Beowulf met this expectation by the great feats he accomplished throughout the poem. At the beginning of the poem Beowulf traveled across the ocean to defeat the monster Grendel. Grendel was a monster who wreaked havoc on king of the Danes, Hrothgar’s kingdom, and his great mead hall. Grendel “ruled in defiance of right, one against all, until the greatest house in the world stood empty, a deserted wallstead.” Grendel continued to attack Hrothgar’s people and the mead hall for twelve years. Upon hearing about the damage Grendel had caused to Hrothgar’s kingdom, Beowulf made the decision to travel to the land of the Danes to defeat him. Grendel was not an easy enemy to face, and Beowulf had heard stories from sailors about the death and destruction Hrothgar’s people had experienced. Beowulf exhibited great courage by making the decision to face Grendel given the information he had concerning the great strength of this beast. Beowulf also showed exceptional courage when he declared he would fight Grendel without any weapons, “‘when it comes to fighting, I count myself as dangerous any day as Grendel. So it won’t be a cutting edge I’ll wield…’” It would have been expected that a weapon would be used to defeat Grendel; when Beowulf chose to not use a weapon he exhibited a form of courage that was idealized by the Germanic people.
Beowulf also showed great courage when he fought Grendel’s Mother. The conflict with Grendel’s mother represents the idea of kinship, which was important to the Germanic people. It was Grendel’s Mother’s duty to avenge her son’s death. Grendel’s Mother was an enemy that was filled with grief and rage. That grief and rage made Grendel’s Mother a formidable enemy. Once Grendel’s Mother made her presence known in the mead hall, Beowulf was called upon to defeat her. Beowulf did not hesitate to agree, and he set out to find and defeat Grendel’s Mother. Beowulf fought Grendel’s Mother in her territory, and this also was an example of the great courage Beowulf had. Beowulf fought Grendel’s Mother under water. It took great courage and strength for Beowulf to defeat Grendel’s Mother given the conditions he was fighting her under.
The last major foe Beowulf fought in the poem...