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Heroism In Beowulf Essay

1563 words - 6 pages

Superman, Spiderman, and Batman are heroes! They possess the two traits that are needed in western civilization to be considered a hero: wisdom and fortitude. These modern heroes have wisdom and fortitude. Did Beowulf possess these traits? Beowulf shows he is a hero through both his wisdom and fortitude throughout his adventures. Beowulf is a great hero because he possesses both wisdom and fortitude.
Wisdom is one of the traits of hero, but what is wisdom. Wisdom is the ability to make the right judgment, the right decision, because the situation is fully understood. A wise person has a complete understanding of the situation and makes the soundest decision for the best result. The connotation for a wise person is a person that is powerful and always makes the correct choice. When reading about kings the word wise is almost always followed by the word powerful. Beowulf was a wise and powerful king, is a sentence that could easily have been written by an ancient Geat.
Most people know what wisdom is. On the other hand though, why is it valued so highly in western civilization? Wisdom is a building block of western civilization. Wisdom was valued even in ancient Greece. Socrates was known as the wise scholar. Wisdom has always been a trait that people have admired. Wisdom is admired because wisdom leads to make right choices in life. A wise person would know when to push their luck or when to back down. The complete understanding of a situation is a very desirable trait for all people.
There are countless examples of Beowulf proving that he is a wise person. For example, in Beowulf’s fabled fight with Grendel Beowulf waits until Grendel has killed several men before rising to the challenge of fighting Grendel (Beowulf 48). This embodies a 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, Beowulf gained another advantage in this fight.
Beowulf shows his wisdom in two other ways in this same battle with Grendel. For instance, Beowulf fights with only his hands (Beowulf 48). Countless warriors have tried to defend themselves against Grendel with swords and shields. Beowulf knows this and knows that not once has Grendel been touched by a blade. So, Beowulf fights with only his hands in this great and terrible battle. Beowulf does not rely on any weapon or anyone besides himself and it works wonders for him. Beowulf also makes another strong strategic decision. He never releases Grendel’s arm (Beowulf 48). If Beowulf had released the monster’s arm there is no doubt he would have died. Beowulf would have been ripped...

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