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It’s possible to characterize a hero in several ways. Some of the features of heroes include boldness, strength, and devotion. Beowulf, the protagonist of the epic poem is a noble Scandinavian prince who demonstrates many of these heroic personalities. The Beowulf epic narration was composed between the ninth and eleventh times when the Anglo-Saxons ruled greatest regions of Northern Europe (Horáček, 2020). The protagonist of poem travels to Denmark to confront Grendel, a monster responsible for a couple of murders. As the poem progresses, Beowulf displays many of the vital traits of a hero. Through multiple conflicts, he proves courage, devotion, and persistence.
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Beowulf shows bravery as one of his heroic characteristics through the epic. He shows bravery early in the epic when he journeys to Denmark to battle Grendel, a giant he has never heard of. Even if Beowulf knows numerous people have tried to defeat Grendel in the past and failed, He continues to display his bravery to the Danes, where he resolves to fight Grendel head-on and unarmed. His hands alone must engage the struggle for life against the beast. He is the first to have the guts to confront Grendel without weapons (Zuraikat, 2019). Beowulf always has complete faith in his abilities and confidence and believes he will overcome Grendel.
He once again demonstrates bravery by killing a dragon fifty years later. At the end of the poem, a robber takes the dragon’s valued object, and the dragon terminates Getland instead as punishment. This action angers Beowulf, and he becomes outraged and makes a move to kill the monster. Although Beowulf may be an adult now, his taste for battle remains unchanged. Beowulf says he will not retreat from the shooting flames and makes a dangerous move to kill the dragon. He is not ready to retreat, even if it means his death. When Beowulf finally confronts the monster, his men run away in terror, leaving him to defend himself. Beowulf keeps fighting even while his cowardly soldiers run away. This character is an extraordinary man who acts courageously in every circumstance.
Beowulf is also persistent (Horáček, 2020). His success in combating is due to his continued determination. The confrontation between Beowulf and Grendel’s mother is illustrative of this. In the battle against Grendel’s mother, Beowulf uses an artificial sword, which he believes is unbeatable. Beowulf realizes the sword is useless as he attempts to kill Grendel’s mother and is unsuccessful, and fights with his fist (Istamovna, 2021). After retreating, “Beowulf, whose only objective was renown, leaped back into fight” and killed the fearsome beast. Beowulf has always had the defense of the Geats and Danes as his primary goal. As a result, Beowulf was never at ease with them and kept guarding his people even as he grew old and weak. Beowulf dealt with mental pain to defend his people from the monsters; he never showed signs of being afraid or unsure of himself. Beowulf was so self-assured that he thought courage might alter the course of events.
The protagonist is portrayed throughout the poem as an authentic epic hero. Since he has the confidence to face adversity, it is apparent that he is a hero. He fought bravely and persistently for his countrymen in every fight. Most of his people lack the traits of Anglo-Saxon heroes; ordinary men and women must rely on heroes like Beowulf to battle injustice. Beowulf stood out from the others because he was willing to do everything for his men. He is known not merely for his heroic acts in the Anglo-Saxon period but also today.
- Horáček, K. (2020). From Beowulf to Arthur: The Evolution of Heroism. https://is.muni.cz/th/pguqo/Krystof_Horacek-BA_Thesis.pdf
- Istamovna, A. N. (2021). Eternal Life of Heroes of Uzbek and English Epics. Middle European Scientific Bulletin, 10.
- Zuraikat, M. J. (2019). Questioning the Centrality of the Hero in Beowulf. Dirasat, Human and Social Sciences, 46(1 Supplement 2).