Every epic hero possesses certain heroic characteristics. The epic poem Beowulf describes the most heroic man of the Anglo-Saxon times. Beowulf is the hero. He shows that he is a great man by always putting other things before his own needs. He is important and needed by his people and is known by many as a strong, courageous and a helpful person. He shows all of the qualities and traits that a true hero possesses. Beowulf, like other epic heroes, possesses the following heroic qualities: epic heroes are superhuman types of beings.
They show great bravery, intelligence, strength and resourcefulness. They have a strong admiration for the values of their society. They are dominant male figures and suffer severe pain, but in the end, they conquer evil. Beowulf encompasses all of these traits of an epic hero, and more. Analyzing Beowulf’s three battles, one can easily see Beowulf’s heroic characteristics prevail. The battle with Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the dragon display an array of heroism expressed by Beowulf. One characteristic of heroism is that a hero performs outrageous and sometimes superhuman deeds.
Beowulf is a prime example of this type of hero. He volunteers himself to fight Grendel and when Grendel’s mom seeks revenge he goes to the lake and takes on the challenge. He shows the great qualities of strength and power when, after fifty years, he takes on the dragon that has become a threat to the Geats. He always battles his enemies with pride. When it is time to fight the dragon everyone becomes afraid and runs off to the forest and hides, while Beowulf sticks around with Wiglaf and fights off the dragon, never fearing the threat of death.
This shows Beowulf’s strength, courage and fearlessness. Through this it is evident that he possess courageous traits. Beowulf’s strength is exemplified many times in the story. Beowulf was said to have “the strength of thirty men in his mighty handgrip. ” He fought in numerous battles and returned victorious from all but his last. In his argument with Unferth, Beowulf explains the reason he lost a swimming match with his opponent Brecca. Not only had Beowulf been swimming for seven nights, he had also stopped to kill nine sea creatures in the depths of the ocean.
Beowulf is also strong enough to kill the monster Grendel with his bare hands by ripping off his arm. When Beowulf is fighting Grendel’s mother, he is able to slay her by slashing the monster’s neck with a giant sword that can only be lifted by a person as strong as Beowulf. When he chops off her head, he carries it from the ocean with no difficulty, but it takes four men to lift and carry it back to Heorot. This strength is a key trait of Beowulf’s heroism. Another heroic trait of Beowulf is his ability to put his people’s welfare before his own.
Beowulf’s uncle is king of the Geats so he is sent to help kill Grendel. His actions toward Grendel show that he is willing to help others. In an epic it is usually found that the hero often determines the fate of a nation or group of people. He uses his super-human physical strength and courage to put his people before himself. Beowulf has definitely helped the Danes and his own people the Geats in their victory over evil by killing Grendel, his mom, and the dragon.
Beowulf risks his own life for the Danes, asking help from no one. He realizes the dangers but fears nothing for his own life and cares only for the people. After Beowulf had served his people as King of the Geats for fifty years, he goes to battle one last time to fight a dragon that is frightening all of his people. Beowulf is old and tired but he defeats the dragon in order to protect his people, even though it means his own death in the end. Beowulf is a very brave and courageous person always putting his people before himself.
Another heroic characteristic that Beowulf possesses is that he is not afraid to die. He always explains his death wishes before going into battle and requests to have any assets delivered to his people. He is aware that he will be glorified in life or death for his actions. Even with the enormous amount of confidence Beowulf possesses, he understands that fate will work its magic no matter what and he could be killed at any point in his life. He faces that reality by showing no fear and preparing for a positive or a fatal outcome.
Beowulf is the ultimate example of an epic hero who risks his life countless times for the good of others. His bravery and strength surpass all mortal men and his loyalty and the ability to think of himself last makes him admired by all. Beowulf came willingly to help the Danes, which was an unusual occurrence in a time of war and widespread fear. His leadership skills are superb and he is even able to brag about all his achievements. These characteristics are what help to classify Beowulf as a true epic hero.