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Beowulf Epic Hero Essay

beowulf epic hero essay

Example #1 – What Makes an Epic Hero?

In your opinion, what characteristics make an epic hero in a story? Is it someone who can defeat many enemies? Or is it someone of great nobility? In the poem Beowulf, Beowulf is the obvious hero in this story. What makes him so great is his fear nothing attitude, as well as his nobility and leadership.

He has many loyal men that would die for him because he gives them something to live for, a better lifestyle. So therefore this is what makes Beowulf one of the greatest hero s in literature.

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To find courage in a person these days is hard to come by. A lot of people are afraid of various things, and to be fearless is quite an honorable characteristic in one’s personality, although it could get you into trouble nowadays. Because of the rise in crime in the Twentieth Century, there are many things to fear such as getting mugged, robbed, raped, killed, or even just getting lost, but none of these compares to fighting gigantic sea-monsters and vicious beasts.

Although these are fictional obstacles of great feats, they are still scary to think about. Imagine watching a monster eat your friends, and then come after you. Forward Grendel came, stepping nearer. Then he reached for Beowulf. Beowulf grasped his arm and sat up. The criminal knew he had not met in this middle-earth another with such a grip (ch. 4). At this point, Grendel was afraid of who this man was. Just the courage not to run away, but to fight the beast, Beowulf proved himself to be a courageous man.

Another trait that comes with courage is being noble. To be noble, one has to take risks on his own behalf to save the suffrage of others, because he wants to. Beowulf had killed many monsters before, but this was for his own safety, like the one she fought in the sea.

But Grendel was a monster that was eating his men and Beowulf was not taking that too well. ” We have done this work of valor against the strength of an uncanny foe. I wish you might have seen this enemy killed in his gear.

I planned to bind him quickly to his deathbed with hand grips. I thought I could pin him down struggling for life without his body’s escape… (Ch. 5). Beowulf had planned to do away with this evil beast, yet he got away but he does not plan to stop here.

With everything, Beowulf had accomplished, and everything he has succeeded in, he could not have done any of it without becoming a leader. A leader has to make decisions both for himself and whoever he is commanding. Without leadership skills, there was no way for Beowulf to become the hero that he was. The mighty one arose,

surrounded by warriors, a mighty band of men. Some remained with the weapons, as the brave one ordered… (Ch. 3). Beowulf had a band of mighty men, willing to die for their leader, and this in turn gave Beowulf much power, which also gave him more confidence, which helped his courage to finish off the ravenous beast they call Grendel.

With everything Beowulf had in his personality traits, he still could not ignore the fact that he was only human, that is why he had the ability to die. But dying as a noble person, as a leader, and a courageous man is what made Beowulf the hero that he was. Dying for the well being of his fellow warriors made him not only a hero but an excellent meal for big momma Grendel.


Example #2

An epic hero is a central figure who has superior qualities and risks personal danger to pursue a grand quest. Beowulf is a great epic hero because he performs many brave deeds such as risking his life for the greater good of society and is significant and glorified by all people.

Beowulf displays all of these heroic characteristics in many situations throughout the poem. Beowulf boasts and boasts about all of his great doings, but in the end, he proves to everyone that he is as great as he claims to be. Most could say Beowulf is the perfect example of an Anglo-Saxon hero.

One of the most important works of Old English literature. It was produced between 975 and 1025 by an anonymous poet.

First, Beowulf shows that he will do anything for fame, glory, and the greater good of society. He risks his life in many of his adventures in the poem to achieve these goals. An example of him risking his life for fame and society is shown whenever Beowulf decides he is going to kill the fire breathing dragon for the people.

Beowulf shows his will to fight for what he desires whenever he says, “This is not your, nor is it up to any man except me to measure his strength against the monster or to prove his worth. I shall win the gold by my courage, or else mortal combat, the doom of battle, will bear your lord away ”(ll.682-687).

Beowulf’s great courage and will to fight helps him to take down the dragon. Since Beowulf was so willing to risk his life for others, he gained much glory. People felt that all of the great deeds that he had done made him deserve glorification.

Another example of Beowulf risking death to fight for people who needed his help is whenever “In his far off home, Beowulf, Higlac’s follower and Hickman 2 the strongest of the Geats—greater and stronger than anyone ever in this world—heard how Grendel filled nights with horror and quickly commanded a boat fitted out, proclaiming that he’d go to that famous king, would sail across the sea to Hrothgar, now when help was needed” (ll.109-116).

In this situation, Beowulf shows he cares about the greater good of society and will be there whenever help is needed. There are many other situations throughout this epic poem, that show Beowulf’s courage to risk his life for society and fame. Beowulf was always one to volunteer for risky situations in life.

A second heroic quality that Beowulf possesses is that he performs many brave deeds. An example of these brave deeds is whenever he boasts about killing sea monsters in the ocean. Beowulf says, “A monster seized me, drew me swiftly toward the bottom, swimming with its claws tight in my flesh. But fate let me find its heart with my sword, hack myself free; I fought that beasts last battle, left it floating lifeless in the sea” (ll.286-291). Beowulf seizing the sea monster is only one of many brave deeds that he accomplishes throughout this epic poem.

Beowulf performs many brave deeds that no normal human being would dare try. Beowulf is a strong believer in his own personal strength. Beowulf says, “My lord Higlac might think less of me if I let my sword go where my feet were afraid to if I hid behind some broad linden shield: my hands alone shall fight for me, struggle for life against the monster” (ll.169-174). Beowulf shows his bravery and courage by refusing to use weapons against Grendel. In this epic poem, Beowulf performs these many brave deeds because he has so much courage. He also has so much desire to conquer any challenge that comes his way.

Thirdly, Beowulf is very significant and glorified. All of the brave deeds he accomplishes, and the strength that he possesses, gain him much respect and glorification from people. After Beowulf had defeated Grendel “The old and young rejoiced, turned back from that happy pilgrimage, mounted their hard hooved horses, high-spirited stallions, and rode them slowly toward Herot again, retelling Hickman 3 Beowulf’s bravery as they jogged along” (ll.534-538).

People had a great love for Beowulf’s bravery and looked up to him. Beowulf’s accomplishments were talked about among all people. He was a hero to many people. Beowulf was respected by all “and over and over they swore that nowhere on Earth or under the spreading sky or between the seas, neither south nor north, was there a warrior worthier to rule over men” (ll.539-542).

People looked up to Beowulf because he accomplished many things that they had never seen anyone do before. People glorified his name because of his bravery to stand up for them. Beowulf is very significant and glorified throughout this epic poem.

In conclusion, Beowulf had all of the great qualities of an epic hero. Beowulf performed many brave deeds, risks his life for the greater good of society, and is very significant and glorified by all people. Beowulf never had a problem with putting himself in danger for the good of others. Through all of his grand quests, he did nothing but prove to others that he truly is an epic hero. Beowulf was a great Anglo-Saxon hero and is still read and taught about today.


Example #3

What does it mean to be a hero? Like anything else in this world, the definition of the word hero can be argued. Some may say that a hero can be passive, that is if he or she refrains from doing a certain action it makes them heroic. Others would argue that to be truly heroic the character must never turn tail and always face the obstacle head-on even though he or she may die in the process. So is Beowulf a hero? Yes, Beowulf is a great epic hero, but his greatness comes only from his sword and not from his mind.

In order to be a hero in an epic poem, there were certain qualities you had to possess. First of all, you had to be male. It is rare to see any woman in epic poems taking on the role of a hero. Women were usually only minor characters who are often not even named. Second of all, you had to be a man of noble birth. Meaning that the hero had to be either a king, prince, knight, or some other high-ranking person in society.

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Beowulf satisfies all of these requirements. He is the nephew of the king of the Geats and the son of a great warrior. As was common in the literature up until recently, Beowulf s mother was not named as well as Grendel s mother. The slave character was not named too, which in my mind would indicate that women had little more status than slaves or property during the times of the Vikings.

Fittingly enough, Beowulf s sword even got a name, for it is by his sword that he earns his eternal fame and glory. However, besides the fact that Beowulf was of noble lineage and that he was a great warrior, he has some other noble qualities.

On the plus side for Beowulf, we can say that he was a pious warrior. Although he was from being a modest warrior, for he was anything but modest when it came to his great deeds of valor on the battlefield, he did credit, Jesus, for every success he has come across. This is not really a revolutionary idea for epic heroes, as we see the heroes of the

Iliad, Odyssey, and the Aeneid constantly praying to the gods for glory on the battlefield. The main difference is that they are pagans, and Beowulf is a Christian, which does not even really make sense because he was a Viking warrior and the Vikings were not Christians.

Regardless, he always paid homage to Jesus before and after every task he accomplished. When he defeated and killed Grendel and his mother he said that it was Jesus who gave him the strength to overcome the two monsters. Later on, when he is already around 50 years old, a Geatish slave arouses an ancient dragon by taking one of his pieces of treasure. Like most epic heroes he is fated to die, but not before Jesus grants him one last great act of greatness to insure him that his name will live on forever.

In a warrior type of society, physical prowess on the battlefield was praised more than any other characteristic you can possibly have, more than intelligence or piety. This is really Beowulf s strong point after all. Early in the story, he summoned by the old and wise Danish king Hrothgar. Hrothgar has a problem with a vile creature named Grendel who stalks his people by night, murders them, and then eats them. With the aid of only twelve Geatish warriors, Beowulf leaves the land of the Geats to go and face the deadly Grendel.

Beowulf is so great a warrior that he feels it would be unfair for him to fight with Grendel using a weapon, so he challenges him a hand to hand. In my mind, this is another instance of his overconfidence. He does in fact face Grendel and rips his arm clean off his body, but not before one of his men is devoured by the creature.

Shortly thereafter, Grendel s mother comes to Hrothgar s kingdom in search of revenge. After celebrating his first victory, the king asks for his help once again. Being the glory hungry hero that he is he accepts the challenge and goes to the foul swap in search of Grendel s vile mother.

Once again we see that because Beowulf is such a great hero and beloved of Jesus, he can do the impossible and dive into the swamp and practically swim like a fish. He has no need for air he is a hero. However, he does come across some trouble in the form of Grendel s mother.

For a female warrior, in regards to what the poet says about women, she is particularly vicious and determined. Once again Beowulf turns to his savior Jesus to help him find a way to defeat this nearly invincible creature, and he answers by showing him the way to the giant’s sword, which Beowulf uses to destroy Grendel s mother.

After this victory, King Hrothgar graciously and dutifully thanks Beowulf for his acts of valor and rewards him with great treasure. Hrothgar, who we are told by the poet was a wise old king, says that Beowulf would make a great king in the future, and for such a young warrior, he is around 20 years old, he is very wise. However, the king knows that he will probably never see Beowulf again and weeps at his departure. He must have known that Beowulf s quest for everlasting glory would lead to his downfall.

After many events in the land of the Geats, Beowulf becomes king. To his credit it appears that he was a good and just king. He was not an aggressive king who was constantly seeking other lands to take over, nor was he a pushover that other kings would easily overcome. From what we can see he was a very good king, probably better than his uncle and cousin, maybe the best king the Geats ever had.

Unfortunately, like all great epic heroes, he was fated to die. After a cast out slave comes across a dragon s lair and steals his treasure, Beowulf s years of tranquility comes to an end. Beowulf, who is now 50 years old, and not nearly as strong or fast as he was when he was 20, undertakes the deadly mission.

Beowulf knows that this may very well be his last heroic quest, however, he does not ask his men for help. Why? Well, Beowulf is pretty much a glory hog, if he kills this dragon, even if he dies in the process, he will die a heroic death and will be remembered for all times. In my mind, the smarter and wiser thing to do would be to assemble a group of a young able-bodied warrior and have them deal with the dragon, come to a realization that he is not the same man he was when he was 20 years old battling Grendel and Grendel s mother. Nonetheless, he does fight the dragon and ultimately kills it with the aid of Wiglaf, but not before the dragon lays him a fatal blow.

So is Beowulf a hero? Yes, I believe he is. He proves his heroicness on the battlefield a countless number of times over the course of his life. Besides his prowess as a warrior, we see that he is a fairly wise king who does not become too greedy for riches or power.

However, in my mind, he does have one flaw that is associated with greed, his greed for everlasting fame. It is because of his great need for fame that he dies at the hands of the dragon leaving behind the Geats in a state of near chaos and panic. A responsible hero would have thought about something like that before putting his life on the line for glory.


Example #4

Analysis of Beowulf as an Epic Hero The definition of a hero from ancient times to the present day has evolved greatly, but they often still possess characteristics synonymous across all cultures and timespans. In modern times, they are often thought of as role models for others to live up to and are generally humble, honest, and not afraid to put others in front of themselves. In ancient times, more emphasis was put on strength and fearlessness, and epic heroes were often saviors of the land, sent down to Earth in its time of need by God’s hand.

Beowulf, the main character in the epic poem Beowulf, is blessed with superhuman strength, a magical weapon only he can yield, as well as a fierce sense of loyalty to his people and an obligation to protect them no matter what the cost, earning him the rank of an epic hero. It is typical of an epic hero to be born with immense strength in order to fight off demons and thus protect his people, and Beowulf is no exception. As he is fighting the beast Grendel for the first time, Beowulf manages to defeat him single-handedly with no weapons, as if Grendel never even had a chance.

From the moment Beowulf’s hands met with Grendel’s claws, the monster “Knew at once that nowhere on earth/ Had he met a man whose hands were harder” (l. 42-43). All through the battle, Beowulf kept his grip on the fiend whose jaws could snap any regular humans’ bones with a single bite, eventually ending up ripping Grendel’s arm off at the end of the skirmish. Only an epic hero could muster such a feat, and only him “…Of all the men on earth/ Was the strongest” (l. 80-81).

Although Beowulf is blessed with great strength and can fight off demons with just his bare hands, an epic hero also must have a weapon he can call his own, which is why he has a magical sword only he can use to slay the beasts that threaten his homeland. In the battle with Grendel’s mom in her underwater lair, where things are looking bleak for the legend, he spots this sword hanging on the wall, described as “hammered by the giants” making it “the best of all weapons/ but so massive no ordinary man could lift” (l. 43-245).

Beowulf takes this sword off the wall with ease and slays his adversary with it, proving that he is immensely strong, as well as the only mortal that can obtain such a weapon. Even before he picked up the giant-hammered weapon, he had his own sword, Hrunting, that he used to fight his foes in previous clashes. This weapon never let him down in battles before Grendel’s mother, and whenever he would “[swing] his sword/ his ring-marked blade…/ The iron [would sing] its fierce song” (l. 04-206).

The fact that Beowulf had a blade that could slay almost any enemy, and he immediately finds a better sword only he can use when that weapon let him down, confirms his worth to the Gods and his role as an epic hero. Beowulf spends most of his time battling brutes and hellions, but remember why he does risk his life to kill these monsters; to protect his people he has a fiery loyalty to, and to create a legacy that will be passed down for eternity.

As Beowulf lays dying from the fatal wounds caused by the dragon, he has some wise words to share with his companions as he beholds the dragon’s riches. In his final moments, thinking of his people he has battled all his life for, he humbly says “I give thanks/ that I behold this treasure here in front of me/ that I have been thus allowed the leave my people/ so well endowed on the day I die” (l. 412-415).

He leaves this treasure to his comrades back home, demonstrating his integrity, yet he still has one more wish before he dies. So nobody will ever forget the great Beowulf and the legacy he left behind, he tells his troops to “construct a barrow/ …on the coast” in his honor, so it will be “…a reminder among [his] people—/ so that incoming times crews under sail/ will call it Beowulf’s Barrow” (l. 419-424).

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These last words truly wrap up the character of Beowulf as the courageous and loyal hero he is, knowing that his actions will have made his name memorable for ages to come. The epic poem, Beowulf, clearly demonstrates the Anglo-Saxon ideals of bravery and loyalty, which also happen to be traits that make Beowulf an epic hero, as well as possessing a magical weapon and wanting his legacy to live on.

Although these traits were valued much longer ago, devotion, strength, and courage are still important to many of us today. This text, as it was one of the first written stories that have survived to this day, gives us an insight into what was valued back in that time period, and what people looked up to in a hero. Despite some differences, there are many similarities between the ancient Anglo-Saxon hero and the modern hero, making Beowulf relevant to this day.


Example #5

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 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 possesses 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 the 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 for 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.

Example #6

Epic heroes usually exemplify traits most admire in their societies, and Beowulf is no exception. Beowulf is set in the Anglo-Saxon society, a time when war was common between people trying to conquer different kingdoms in England. Also, during that time Christianity and pagan views were popular.

There were various Christian references and elements that can be interpreted within the text. An example of this is the reference to the biblical figure Cain being a related figure to a despises of the kingdom.

Beowulf is successful in upholding both the heroic and Christian ideals.

Beowulf has the traditional characteristics of an epic hero. Even though he is famous for his massive strength, he has other attributes that are noticeable other than his strength. The attributes, mentally strong, bravery, and a strong love for his people are what make Beowulf become such a powerful, epic hero. Bravery is his most underrated strength. For example, even having been told all of those horror stories that he hears about Grendel, he still fights the cursed beast without any hesitation.

His dedication to the people was shown when he was not a member of the clan he still fought for them.

His mental strength was tested after all of those wars, but he calmly took it and got stronger after every one. In an epic, it is usually found that the hero often determines the fate of a nation or group of people based on their strengths. Throughout the poem, Beowulf relied on God to get through hard times. Even though Beowulf had much to be proud of, he knew his true place. He was under God first and King’s second. For example, when finally the adventures band of warriors finished the journey over the sea; the first thing Beowulf did was thank God for their safe journey.

Another example is when before his battle w/ Grendel, Beowulf prayed to God. In that prayer, Beowulf asked God to award either Grendal or himself the victory, as the “Ruler-all-wise” saw fit. The battle with the dragon was described as fierce and at one point the lord of the Geats is not too confident about being victorious in battle with the dragon.

During the battle, all of Beowulf’s men deserted him except one, Wiglaf. The dragon was eventually killed by Beowulf, but Beowulf took a lot of damage. Beowulf died not soon after and left his orders with Wiglaf. He wanted to be buried with his treasures and that of the dragon.

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 shows all of these traits of an epic hero and more. He did that with his physical strength, belief in God, and the battle with the dragon. These characteristics led me to believe, Beowulf is successful in upholding both the heroic and Christian ideals.


Example #7

Every epic hero possesses certain heroic characteristics. Beowulf, like other epic heroes, possesses the following heroic qualities: epic heroes are superhuman types of beings. They have a noble birth and show great bravery. They display great intelligence and resourcefulness.

They have a reverence for G-d and for the values of their society. They are dominant male figures and suffer severe pain, but in the end, they conquer evil (Vivone 9/27/99). In addition to Beowulf’s heroic qualities, he is very strong.

Beowulf was said to have “the strength of thirty [men] in his mighty handgrip” (Bloom 11). Early proof of Beowulf’s extraordinary strength is evidenced by his dismemberment of Grendel’s limb, the fight in the cave underwater, and the magic sword (Klaeber xiv).

Beowulf partook in many supernatural battles and events. The demeanor of Beowulf is considered a main fantastic element. When Beowulf fights Grendel and Grendel’s mother, he is immortal. Then, suddenly, he becomes mortal and falls to the dragon (Klaeber xxiv). In Beowulf, marvelous elements are everywhere.

They include a fire breathing dragon and sea monsters (Burlin 119). There are additional examples of the use of fantastic elements in Beowulf. Beowulf single-handedly carrier thirty suits of armor from the battlefield in Frisnia and swims with them through the North Sea and the Skagerrak to Geatland, a distance of five hundred miles (120).

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In Beowulf’s early life, he swam for five to seven days with his companion Breca, killing sea monsters by night. During his swim match with Breca, Beowulf dressed in full armor, was attacked by nine sea monsters and killed them all.

Grendel is a monster, who occupies a human-like form; he is devilish and is a descendant of Cain. He is “the guardian of sins”. He is similar to Satan because he is superhuman in size and strength and is hostile towards man. Grendel kills mortals by devouring men whole. Grendel has terrorized Herot for twelve years. Grendel attacks only one night; one time he grabs thirty people and takes “his slaughtered feast of men to his lair’ (Bloom 10). Grendel eats the flesh and blood of men and enters their houses by way of doors (Nicholson 74).

Before Beowulf attempted to rid the land of Grendel, men tried to slaughter him, “but their points could not hurt him, the sharpest and hardest iron could not scratch at his skin” (48). Beowulf kills Grendel by first watching his attack.

Beowulf grabs hold of Grendel’s claws and finally rips off his arm. In the morning, warriors look for the body of Grendel by following his bloody trail. They cannot find his body and turn back. Hrothgar’s men finally think that they no longer will be plagued with the presence of the monster and that now they can sleep in peace.

However, their sleep did not last long. During the night, Grendel’s mother came to avenge her son’s death. She enters the hall and grabs Aeschere and her son’s arm. Beowulf goes to follow her and swims for an entire day in her pool before he sees the bottom of the mere.

When Beowulf descends into Grendel’s mere, he loses ground as the fight progresses. It is then assumed that Beowulf is fighting desperately for his life. Then, the water closed over him. It was “the space of a day,” before he could see the bottom of the mere (Burlin 121).

The hero’s physical powers grow far beyond human dimensions. Beowulf is about to attempt to use a weapon although they were useless against her; “then he saw, hanging on the wall, a heavy sword… but so massive that no ordinary man could live its carved and decorated length” (72). Once he is in Grendel’s mother’s mere, Beowulf remains underwater for more than a day (Burlin 120). Finally, Beowulf kills Grendel’s mother, and her blood melts his sword (Bloom 16). Thus far, Beowulf has killed two man-like monsters.

Beowulf’s last battle with a dragon is the final substantial fantastic element in this epic poem. W. P. Ker, a nineteenth-century critic, asserts the dragons are commonly fit for fables and contain more of a fantastic nature than Grendel does. He believes that Grendel is much better suited than a dragon; however, a dragon turns up in Beowulf. Dragons are more often seen as fabulous monsters because they do not exist as part of the environment (62). Dragon fights and fire-breathing dragons were prevalent in medieval literature.

Too much time was spent on the details of the dragon in this epic poem (Klaeber xxi). For instance, “If the dragon is the right end for Beowulf… then Grendel is an eminently suitable beginning. They are creatures [enemies of mankind] of similar order and kindred significance. Triumph over the lesser and more nearly human is canceled by defeat before the older and more elemental” (Nicholson 86). When Beowulf has failed to kill the dragon, “with all his strength, [he] smashed the gray blade into the beast’s head.

But then Nagling broke to pieces… ” (106). Then, Beowulf uses his dagger and “quickly cut the beast in half, slit it apart” (107). Conquering all evil, Beowulf leaves his people safe, while he dies next to Wiglaf in excruciating pain. Therefore, fantastic elements appear throughout Beowulf and serve to display the heroic qualities of the epic’s protagonist. Fantastic elements are supernatural or superhuman events that cannot be explained and that exist beyond nature.

Beowulf is seen to be a superhero because of the feats and tasks he engages in that appears to be fantastic in nature. Analyzing Beowulf’s three battles, one can easily see fantastic elements in this epic poem. The battle with Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the dragon display an array of fantastic elements. The reader must remember not to ask questions about how anything described are possible. Man cannot explain any fantastic element because it is beyond nature’s control. Beowulf’s heroic qualities are further exemplified by the use of fantastic elements.


Example #8

An epic hero is a brave and noble character in an epic poem. The character is admired for great achievements or affected by grand events. Beowulf displays an epic hero by being an unmatched warrior who was victorious among all men, a battler of supernatural foes, and he had capabilities of no ordinary mortal man. He was a brave warrior and a fierce leader in this epic poem. Beowulf was a prince and a warrior who was a hero among his people of Herot.

Beowulf throughout the poem is an unmatched warrior who battles fierce monsters that no ordinary man could claim victory over. Beowulf’s first battle was against Grendel, the monster from the swampland who wanted nothing but gruesome destruction against Beowulf and his people.

The battle was over, Beowulf had been granted new glory: Grendel escaped, but wounded as he was could flee to his den, his miserable hole at the bottom of the marsh, only to die, to wait for the end (340-344, 43). Beowulf had purged the hero clean and he was happy.

The Danes boasted as they praised the man from across the sea who would serve the Danes the way Beowulf did. Now, with that night’s fierce work; the Danes had been served as hed boasted hed serve them; Beowulf, a prince of the Geats, had killed Grendel, ended the grief, the sorrow, the suffering forced on Hrothgar helpless people by a bloodthirsty fiend (350-355, 43). Beowulf would never give up or show mercy during a fight as he would stand strong and brave above any single man.

Then Beowulf rose, still brave, still strong, and with his shield at his side, and a mail shirt on his breast, strode calmly, confidently, toward the tower, under the rocky cliffs: no coward could have walked there (633-636, 53). Beowulf was a god among men, who would never be outdone and would never face defeat.

Beowulf spends much time in the poem battling supernatural foes like Grendel, Grendels mother, and the Fierce Dragon in its castle. Out from the marsh, from the foot of the misty hills and bogs, bearing God’s hatred, Grendel came, hoping to kill anyone he could trap on this trip to high Herot. He moved quickly through the cloudy night, Up from his swampland (233-238, 40).

Beowulf’s next battle was against Grendels mother, the hideous monster from the fiery lake, where he was dragged to battle her. And all at once, the greedy she-wolf who’d ruled those waters for half a hundred years discovers him, saw that a creature from above had come to explore the bottom of her wet world. Shed welcomed him in her claws (454-458, 47).

Beowulf would leave her lair victorious, taking with him the monster’s head and the jeweled sword. Finally, it came time for Beowulf the battle the mighty Dragon who would become Beowulfs toughest test. Quickly, the dragon came at him, encouraged as Beowulf fell back; its breath flared, and he suffered, wrapped around in swirling flames (687-690, 54).

Beowulf is a tremendous warrior and a brave prince, but he was no ordinary man this Beowulf, he was more of a god than a man. Compared to his people of Herot, Beowulf had supernatural capabilities. His mind was flooded with fear-but nothing could take his talons and himself from that tight hard grip. Grendel’s one thought was to run from Beowulf, flee back to his marsh and hide there (276-279, 41). Grendel had defeated Grendel, leaving him to flee and die alone.

Grendels’ mother lived under a fiery lake and for Beowulf, this was not a tough task. He leaped into the lake, would not wait for anyone answer; the heaving water covered him over. For hours he sank through the waves; at last, he saw the mud of the bottom (450-453, 47).

Beowulf would then be dragged to the battle-hall, where he would defeat the monster. Beowulf faced a tougher task defeating Grendels mother. He grabbed the sword, which hung along the wall and began his battle.

Then he saw, hanging on the wall, a heavy sword, hammered by giants, strong and blessed with their magic, the best of all weapons but so massive that no ordinary could lift its carved and decorated length, he drew it from its scabbard, broke the chain on its hilt, and then, savage, now, angry and desperate, lifted it high over his head and struck with all the strength he had left, caught her in the neck and cut it through, broke bones and all, her body fell to the floor, lifeless (513-524, 49). Beowulf had slain Grendels’ mother.

Beowulf is an unordinary man who is a fierce defender in battle. He who served his people by defeating the harmful monsters had given his life for his people. Unmatched in battle, Beowulf time and time again used his supernatural capabilities to protect his home. Beowulf was a fierce warrior who battled many supernatural foes. Beowulf is an epic hero.

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Beowulf Epic Hero Essay. (2020, Sep 25). Retrieved January 29, 2023, from