Beowulf was the first literary super hero.
Like the common day superman,Beowulf has ordinary human characteristics, as well as superhuman powers. Likethe Anglo-Saxons of Beowulf’s time, he is boastful, manly, and willing to outdohis fellow neighbor. The only difference between him and the rest of the Anglo-Saxons is that he possesses extreme amounts of physical power. Grendel, the antagonist of the story, was feared by all men.
He atehumans and attacked them in their sleep. Many men had attempted to kill Grendel,but until Beowulf, no man had ever succeeded. . .Order now
. so Grendel ruled, fought withthe righteous, One against many and won. . . (line 81,82). Despite the probability of Beowulf’s death against Grendel, he stillinsists on attacking him and defeating him.
Beowulf kills Grendel in an unusualway. Rather than attacking him with a sword like every other Geat, he grabs ontoGrendel’s arm and squeezes until the torture is unbearable. Grendel loses hisstrength, his body parts, and his blood in this violent scene. He later bleedsto death. Saw that his strength was deserting him, his claws Bound fast,Higlac’s brave follower tearing at his hands.
(line 464-466)Beowulf’s unusual and courageous method of killing Grendel demonstrateshis bravery and physical strength. Before, Unferth had taunted Beowulf about hisfoolish bravery but when he and all the rest of the Geats saw that Beowulf’sstrength and power were worth boasting about, they were humbled. To proveBeowulf was powerful, he hung Grendel’s arm, claw, and shoulders from therafters of the meeting hall. No Dane doubted The victory, for the proof, hanginghigh From the rafters where Beowulf had hung it, was the monster’s Arm, claw andshoulder and all. (line 485-488)Had Beowulf attacked Grendel with a sword, the events would not haveturned out the same. Many men before Beowulf had attacked Grendel with a swordand all with no effect to Grendel.
If Beowulf had used a sword instead of hisbare hands to kill Grendel, not only would Grendel have survived but the brawlwould not have such a significance in the history of the Geats. Beowulf wouldnot seem as brave, and even if Beowulf had died, the battle would not have beenas legendary. There would be no arm, shoulder, or claw to symbolize Grendel’sdeath or stunned crowds to admire Beowulf’s courage. Beowulf’s quest to conquer Grendel was successful, not only did he proveto everyone that he was a true man but he conquered one of the most fearedcreatures of the time. Beowulf’s life after Grendel’s death was blessed and hiscourageous acts from then and afterwards reached legendary heights.
Category: English .