Beowulf Essay

Beowulf Essay - The Tragic Faults of a Timeless Hero: An...

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The Tragic Faults of a Timeless Hero: An Examination of the Character Beowulf Betty DeRamus once said, “a hero is simply someone who rises above his own human weaknesses, for an hour, a day, a year, to do something stirring.” 1 The character Beowulf has long been noted as a classic hero, an inspiring guise for all later champions of good to encompass. Although Beowulf’s powers are seemingly beyond those of any ordinary man, he still has weaknesses that antagonize these strengths. From his generosity, courage and power as a young man to his trustworthiness, maturity, and heroism as an older king, Beowulf’s strength’s are exemplified. The weaknesses he holds, e.g., his hints of arrogance, poor judgment, and the fact that he was a pagan are what lead Beowulf to his ultimate demise. Beowulf has left his mark on history as a nearly indestructible hero, having superior God-given strength in his power and his character. However, when we look deeper into the qualities of Beowulf, we see that alongside the brawn, vigor, and courageousness of Beowulf lays the traits that make him very much an ordinary, sometimes flawed human being. In contemporary society, the idea of a hero is tossed around more often than it was in the time in which Beowulf was written. Politicians, community leaders, and countless others are all thought to embrace the qualities of a hero. Beowulf exemplifies all the traits that make a classic hero; honor, courage, intelligence, bravery, and morality. At the most superficial point he represents heroism through his awe-inspiring strength, agility, and combative understanding. Even at some level, Beowulf is not a revenge seeker. Yet what makes Beowulf a hero is more than the basic traits laid out; it is his humanity and will to do good. Beowulf does not help Hrothgar rid his castle of Grendel to bask in the glory of doing so, but he helps him because he is 1 QuoteLady, “Heroes and Heroism,” 12 Mar 2008 <>.
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an old acquaintance in dire need of help. Nor does Beowulf do these brave actions in order to acquire great riches and become a powerful ruler. In a sense, Beowulf laid the groundwork for all types of heroes. Whether they are mighty, physically powerful warriors, or if they are average people trying to change the world around them for the better, they contain some part of what made Beowulf great. In reference to his own strength and courage Beowulf says "they have seen my strength for themselves, have watched me rise from the darkness of war, dripping with my enemies' blood. I drove five great giants into chains, chased all of that race from the earth. I swam in the blackness of night, hunting monsters out of the ocean, and killing them one by one; death was my errand and the fate they had earned. Now Grendel and I are called together, and I've come." 2 Beowulf was certainly aware of his power and contained many strengths in his arsenal. Of them, generosity and selflessness ranked high. When Beowulf heard the news of Hrothgar’s great hall
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This note was uploaded on 05/04/2008 for the course HIST 1010 taught by Professor Bruce,scot during the Spring '07 term at Colorado.

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Beowulf Essay - The Tragic Faults of a Timeless Hero: An...

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