Gerard May once said,¨Heroes are ordinary people who make themselves extraordinary.¨ Each story has its own archetypal hero of some sort. Although heroes are seen as infallible, people fail to see that just like us, they are human too. In Beowulf, our main hero demonstrates both strengths and flaws throughout this epic, such as his loyalty, his bravery, and his biggest flaw, his ego.
In this epic poem, Beowulf displays his loyalty to Hrothgar, king of the Danes.
When Beowulf heard of the tragic attacks on Hrothgar’s people, he rushed to their aid. Beowulf declared that he “meant to perform to the uttermost what your people wanted or perish in the attempt in the friends clutches.” (43.634-636) Our protagonist feels a great amount of loyalty to Hrothgar, especially because of Hrothgar and Beowulf’s father’s past together. Out of loyalty he felt the need to repay his father’s debt. When Beowulf declares his loyalty to Hrothgar, a bond was created that couldn’t be broken. Because of this bond, Beowulf was obligated to fight multiple battles for Hrothgar. However, without Beowulf’s loyalty, Hrothgar’s people would have been dead.Order now
In the is epic poem, there’s no doubt beowulf was the bravest among all of the characters. He demonstrated this bravery well throughout the book. Upon his arrival to the mead hall, he made it know how important strength and bravery means to the Geats. He talked about all his past victories and achievements, as well as how he would defeat Grendel, the monster whose been plaguing them. Beowulf also was willing to fight the monster without any weapons, in a hand-to-hand combat! “I Have heard moreover that the monster scorns in his reckless way to use weapons therefore, to heighten Hygelac’s fame and gladden his heart, I hereby renounce sword and the shelter of the broad shield, the heavy war-board; hand-to-hand is how it will be, a life-and-death fight with the fiend .” (47.683-687) Beowulf announces that he will use every ounce of his strength to ride the mead hall of this vile creature. During the battle, he shows off his massive strength and kills Grendel taking his severed arm as a trophy. Beowulf’s bravery helps the plot of the story develop, leading to the second battle in which the king relies on him again to defend the Danes.
Lastly, Beowulf’s biggest tragic flaw that caused his downfall was his ego. As each battle occurred he became more and more arrogant. In the last battle against the dragon, Beowulf wanted to fight the dragon alone knowing it would be certain death. He could have easily fought with his warriors and won , but he was too prideful:
Men at arms, remain here on the barrow, safe in your amour, to see which one of us is better in the end at bearing wounds in a deadly fray.This fight is not yours, nor is it up to any man except me to measure his strength against the monster or to prove his worth (171.2529-2535).
No longer youthful, Beowulf’s ego got the best of him as he attacked the dragon and died. His arrogance forced his people to be susceptible to attack by neighboring countries that knew of Beowulf’s death. Even Wiglaf, one of his loyal warriors, said “often when one man follows his own will, many are hurt” (207.3077-3078). Wiglaf refers to Beowulf, stating that he only cared about his own desires which resulted in many getting hurt. His people had to pay the price of his actions in the end.
In conclusion, Beowulf’s flaws and strengths shaped this epic poem and moved the plot along. His bravery and loyalty helped establish the major conflicts and battles, and his ego ended his heroic story. All stories, real or make believe, need heroes whether they are flawed or not. Beowulf helps the readers realize that no one is perfect, and a person does not have to be perfect to make a difference. “If you are not a hero of your own story, then you’re missing the whole point of your humanity” (Maraboli).