Essay On Heroism In "Beowulf"

1172 words - 5 pages

Sometime around 700 A.D., in England, an unknown Anglo-Saxon scop wrote a great song about heroes, monsters, and fate. This story is called Beowulf, and is the earliest known piece of English writing. It tells of fantastic monsters, larger-than-life heroes, and treasures beyond belief. In it, a young Geat warrior-prince named Beowulf decides to help a neighboring country led by king Hrothgar rid itself of a giant monster, named Grendel. Grendel had plagued Denmark for over twelve years, murdering the Danes in their sleep. Beowulf fights an epic battle against Grendel, finally ripping off his arm, sending him to his death. He is then faced with the wrath of Grendel's mother, and defeats her as well in an underground cavern. Fifty years later, he is a king ruling his own country, when a dragon begins ravishing it. Beowulf, like in his earlier years, faces the dragon with a small group of his own people. Upon seeing the dragon, all but one flees, leaving Beowulf to fight for himself. In the fight, he is mortally wounded, yet manages to kill the dragon. Beowulf is a story based on the conception of what a model citizen should be and how they should act. [It incorporates character foils to show how to act, the theme of the generous sharing of wealth, and the characters realizing that they are each resigned to their own fates.] Many of these themes and ideals hold true to this day, showing us that the Anglo-Saxons truly were the first of the English people. Throughout the epic, various character foils are offered to show the way citizens in Anglo-Saxon times were expected to act. Each one illustrates a different moral valued by the Anglo-Saxons. The first one we notice is the contrast between Beowulf and Unferth. Whereas Unferth serves as a loud, boastful fool, Beowulf appears calm and cool, even saying "Unferth, my friend, your face/ is hot with ale," showing that a true hero is able to keep his temper even. It is important to have the people trying to remain calm, so that they do not start fights among themselves, since there are already too much fighting going on with other countries. Another important foil shown in the poem is when the old soldier is singing the story of Siegmund and Hermod. Both were the great warriors of their people, and both became leaders through their great deeds. Siegmund was very wise, and ruled his people with care. Hermod, however, was greedy, and wound up exiled, then killed himself. Another foil is that between Hrothgar and Beowulf. Hrothgar is an old leader of his people, once a great leader, and now reduced to a pathetic old man. He does not even try to fight Grendel, his own enemy, but instead calls upon Beowulf, a warrior from a neighboring country, to fight his battles for him. Even on the death of his most beloved advisor, Hrothgar "trembled in anger and grief" (1308) and "Beowulf/ was sent for at once" (1309-10).This shows that Beowulf is one who solves his own problems, opposed to Hrothgar, who relies on...

Find Another Essay On Essay on heroism in "Beowulf"

Civilizations and Heroism in the Epic Poems of Gilgamesh and Beowulf

948 words - 4 pages Heroism is a theme that has appeared throughout history in the literature of different civilizations. Heroes represent the principles and ideals associated with the varying morals of each individual society. The literature of Mesopotamia and Western Europe is a prime example of this. Beowulf, an Anglo-Germanic tale and The Epic of Gilgamesh, of the Sumerians, demonstrate perfectly, the ability of civilizations to convey the values and

Heroism in All Sizes (essay on the movie Antz)

605 words - 2 pages Heroism in all SizesA true hero goes beyond the cape and mask image drawn by the many cartoon characters. A true hero exempts insignificant measures of being lost in the crowd. This heroic persona was embodied through the character "Z" in the animated Steven Spielberg movie Antz produced by "DreamWorks and PDI". Based around the plot that you can expand from the "colony" and move beyond your pre-assigned duties given by the prospect of

Essay on Fate in Beowulf, Grendel, and Macbeth

2218 words - 9 pages agent that determines destiny. In Beowulf, God plays this role, and fate is generally accepted as God's will. In John Gardner's Grendel, a novel which serves as a commentary on the poem, fate is totally predetermined, and is the will of no being. By contrast, Macbeth's agents of fate are the Witches, who generally go against God's will.   In all three works, fate plays a powerful role, as it did in many prescientific cultures. Fate is a

Epic of Beowulf Essay - Alliteration in Beowulf

1355 words - 5 pages provide the listener additional pleasure by surprising his expectations. The alliteration also includes stressed vowels (Tharaud 34).   Prof. Magoun, in examining the poem, considers it probable that a high percentage of the language in Beowulf is formulas or phrases repeated from a common bank of phraseology from which all poets drew their language (88-89). From this common bank the poets drew out what they need based on the

Epic of Beowulf Essay - Shields in the Epic Poem, Beowulf

1038 words - 4 pages clarified a number of hard passages in the poem. As far as we can tell from Sutton Hoo and other archaeological finds, the Beowulf poet seems never to exaggerate or invent in his descriptions of royal accoutrements (266).   This essay on shields, a defensive weapon mentioned in the poem Beowulf, has relevancy to the poem because of the numerous references therein to the subject. Archaeological finds support the presence and variety of

Epic of Beowulf Essay - The Conflicts in Beowulf

2040 words - 8 pages wars in my youth; now once again, old folk-defender, feud will I seek, do doughty deeds, if the dark destroyer forth from his cavern come to fight me!"   The dragon charges Beowulf four times. It is on the third charge that he inflicts a neck wound on the hero which later proves to be fatal: The wound began, which that dragon-of-earth had erst inflicted, to swell and smart; and soon he found in his breast was boiling, baleful and

Epic of Beowulf Essay - The Balance of Joy and Sorrow in Beowulf

1045 words - 4 pages , which balance with numerous joys expressed on alternate pages. This essay expresses but a selection of joys and sorrows from among the almost countless number existing in the poem.   Beowulf both begins and ends on the sorrowful occasion of a death, Danish king Scyld Scefing’s in the opening lines, and our hero’s in the closing lines. This fact is important in some critics’ classification of the poem as an elegy rather than an epic: “It

This essay compares and contrasts the different battles in Beowulf.

759 words - 3 pages out that he cannot defeat her with his strength alone so he finds a sword on the wall that giants had made and had blessed with their magic. Beowulf draws the sword and swings it at Grendel's mother taking off her head. After he killed her, he went looking for Grendel and when he found him lying dead in a corner he cuts off Grendel's head too.The third battle takes place back in Geatland where Beowulf lives. This battle takes place because of a

An essay about the Apocalyptic visions in Beowulf.

1915 words - 8 pages In folktales, legends, mythology, and even the Bible, people are told stories about Hero's and their unimaginable strength, wisdom, and power. Beowulf is a great example of this, the poor young eponymous hero is left alone in the woods to survive on his own and then he overcomes all of these to kill three mythological beasts, save two entire countries and live as king of a country for over fifty years of peace and prosperity. Now that in its own

What kinds of courage and Heroism are shown in To Kill a Mockingbird? This essay Reveals this

734 words - 3 pages service an' draggin' him with his shy ways into the limelight - to me, that's a sin.' P.g 304Examples of True courage are not hard to come by in 'To kill a Mockingbird'; Harper Lee prides many of the characters in the novel on their Courage. In particular Atticus, Mrs. Dubose and Arthur Radley show examples of true courage and/or heroism at different parts in the text or throughout the whole text.

Essay Comparing the Role Models in Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

2431 words - 10 pages universally agreed upon. On the contrary, one man's idea of excellence may very well be another's idea of mediocrity. Yet, human nature is constant enough that by analyzing different literary "heroes", one can discover the standards of excellence that are common to different peoples. The title characters in both Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight were both considered paragons of excellence by their peoples. Yet, upon close inspection

Similar Essays

Heroism In Beowulf Essay

1563 words - 6 pages sense of wisdom. Beowulf understands that in battle surprise is key to winning. Grendel was most likely on high alert before killing those few men, but after he was relaxed and just enjoying another senseless night of killing. Beowulf’s waiting for Grendel to relax gave him a key advantage in their fight. Equally important, waiting for Grendel to kill some of his men allowed Beowulf the chance to see how Grendel operated. As a result

Heroism In Beowulf And Frankenstein Essay

952 words - 4 pages With fear comes courage, with experience comes bravery, and with pain comes strength. One may assume that these traits are the exact characteristics a hero. However, heroism can come in many different forms. Victor Frankenstein, from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and Beowulf exemplify many different traits of heroism. The perfect image of a true hero is Beowulf. His courage and confidence seems to come naturally. He is the ideal man; he puts

This Essay Is Based On Heroism Found In The Epic Poems "Beowulf" And "Sir Gawain And The "Green Knight"

1186 words - 5 pages In "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" and "Beowulf," we encounter single heroic men, under a great king on an adventurous quest for recognition, and honor. Hard to imagine that though so much alike, they differ in category. "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight," contains very similar aspects of an epic poem, which creates vast similarities between sir Gawain and Beowulf. Both of the famous writings entwine lineage, the warrior code, and mysticism to

Heroism Displayed In The Epic Novel Of Beowulf And Sir Gawain. This Essay Compares And Contrasts These Two Characters And Defines What Makes A True Hero.

1116 words - 4 pages Beowulf was written in the eighth century by monks. The word Beowulf means bee-hunter. It was the first book ever written. The Norse tale is principally concerning the exploits of the warrior Beowulf of the Anglo-Saxon times. Beowulf most definitely proves to be a hero in this epic for he is able to conquer his obstacles due to his super-human physical strength, determination and courage.Beowulf is a hero in the eyes of his fellow men through