Epic Of Beowulf Essay

1153 words - 5 pages

The 8th century epic poem Beowulf illustrates a loss of community, cultural values and tradition. On the other hand, an elegiac passing of an extraordinary hero and the relationship between the themes of mortality and heroism are well discussed in Beowulf. Beowulf’s character exemplifies the Germanic and the Anglo-Saxon ideals of the hero: strong, fearless, bold, loyal, and stoic in the acceptance of fate. Despite his lack of humility, Beowulf was the definition of a hero in his own time by his demonstration of chivalry and his important roles in society.
It is a fact that Beowulf’s “superman figure” and warrior character had a strong influence on his efforts over what he was trying to achieve. Beowulf’s biggest concern was to see the Germanic society taken over by Christian missionaries who had been seeking to create a new culture out of the Germanic culture. On one hand, Beowulf was trying to strive for community, while on the other hand Christianity was trying to convert the Germanic society into a different and an “individual-based” culture.
After looking at his purposes on what he was trying to do, it is the time to discuss Beowulf’s “supernatural hero” character and in what aspects he was considered the “superman” of the time. The first sign of his heroic character comes from his name, Beowulf. “Beo” gives the impression of a strong, large, fearless animal--bear--while at the same time “wulf” sounds like a ferocious and wild wolf. Beowulf’s physical appearance, in which he had a towering height and stature, also convinced others that he was actually an “above-human” character and hero. Furthermore, Beowulf had a mysterious and “un-heroic” background, which he foretold as a youth. He was poorly regarded by the Geats and was taken by them for less than he was worth. Thus, endurance and perseverance also took part on his heroic character. Like the typical hero, Beowulf gave boasts. While in Hrothgar’s kingdom, Beowulf defended himself against the kin-killer Unferth and he bragged that he would kill Grendel: “I will show him how Geats shape to kill/ in the heat of battle”(602-603). This boasting was done to prove his valor and bravery. Beowulf also proved that he was a superhuman when he destroyed both Grendel and Grendel’s mother since no other warriors had attempted to even get close to those demons.
Beowulf’s leadership skills were just as impressive as his heroic characteristics. He was just as valiant and courageous as a king as he was a warrior. Beowulf was not only the archetypal hero, but also the ideal Germanic king. In order for one to understand what a good king was, Halfdane related an example of a bad king to Beowulf. Halfdane’s example of Heremond was that he was a horrible ruler because he was “bloodthirsty”(1719), “killed his own comrades”(1714) and at the end of his life, “gave no more rings”(1719). In contrast, Beowulf as a king was compassionate towards his warriors and was a “lavisher of...

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