Discussion On Whether Beowulf Is A True Hero

Beowulf is believed to demonstrate the importance of heroic code. The heroic code values strength and loyalty in a warrior. It also values hospitality and generosity in a king. There is a clearer division between Beowulf’s adolescent heroism as a warrior as well as in one's prime, as a dependable king. In the story Beowulf appears to be faithful to express and representing the heroic code. When Beowulf was a young warrior he was best known for his courage and his strength. The epic story portrays that Beowulf perfectly represents and values the Germanic heroic code. When you think of someone who is a hero you would characterize him or her as strong, powerful, smart, courageous and loyal. In the book Beowulf by Seamus Heaney on line 960 and 970 shows Beowulf might not be as strong and heroic as we all thought. Whereas Beowulf fights for a noble cause, Beowulf does not follow the Germanic heroic code given that Beowulf does not possess courage and strength.

In the epic poem Beowulf has three separate and very difficult conflicts that involve Grendel, Grendel’s mother and the dragon. In the poem, his actions are driven by pride and self-glorification not the desire to help other people. When studying each battle with each individual monster Beowulf not being what the story portrays him to be will be more noticeable. Beowulf was a king who had way too much pride and was constantly looking for the glory. Beowulf’s enormous ego and him being arrogant put him in a lot of bad situation that could have been prevented if he wasn’t looking for the attention. A hero is someone who thinks about everyone before himself as well as makes smart decisions before taking action. A hero also wouldn’t be conceded and looking for the glorification. The last thing on a hero’s mind should be himself and his appearance.

Grendel was one of the three monsters that fight a battle with Beowulf. Grendel has many animal attributes and distorted gruesome aspect. Grendel is a God-cursed creature that lives in the swamp. Grendel’s aggression against the Danes is because of his loneliness and jealousy. When you think of someone who fits the characteristics of evil they are ugly inside and out. In the poem Beowulf, King Hrothgar of Denmark is a ruler of a very successful kingdom. King Hrothgar decided to show his appreciation the warriors and all the people of his realm by building a mead hall for a celebration. After built the mead hall Hrothgar built for his people he decided to call it Heorot. When Heorot was built a huge festival and praises to God was made causing Grendel to get very angry. Grendel is huge monster with thick skin untouched by any weapons like arrows and swords.

One night when Grendel was in a rage he decided to attack Heorot. As Grendel quietly sneaks up on the warriors he catches them sleeping resulting in Grendel killing all 30 of them. After he kills all 30 warrior’s Grendel terrorizes Hrothgar’s kingdom. This means he has access to sneak up on other people resulting him to kill someone every night. Now that Grendel has access to the kingdom he has taken ownership of Heorot. The only problem is Grendel can’t touch the throne because he is God-cursed. As Grendel causes havoc in Heorot, Beowulf hears the trouble going on with Grendel and the problems Hrothgar kingdom is having. When Beowulf arrives he and Grendel battle.

On line 960 it states “My plan was to pounce, pin him down in a tight grip and grapple him to death, have him panting for life, powerless and clasped in my bare hands, his body in thrall”. “But I couldn’t stop him from slipping my hold, the lord allowed it, my lock on him wasn’t strong enough, he struggled fiercely and broke and ran”. If Beowulf was truly a hero possessing the characteristics we would think a hero would have such as strength, bravery and courage Grendel would not have the time or even the power to slip his hold. While Beowulf was battling Grendel, he had his warriors watch while he fought the monster on his own. Beowulf being the conceded guy he is was he worried more about how he would look battling the big monster by himself.

Beowulf fighting by himself he was putting everyone at risk because he did not realize Grendel was a lot stronger than what he intended him to have. The outcome of the battle was a victory for Beowulf because as he was battling he was pulling Grendel’s arms as Grendel was trying to pull away causing Grendel arm to rip off. Once Grendel’s arm ripped off he scattered off back to the swampland and died. A true hero is someone who isn’t afraid to put his pride aside and ask for help. For instance, when the battle was over instead of Beowulf taking Grendel’s arm back to Heorot saying we did as a group defeating the monster. Beowulf went back with Grendel’s arm being selfish and conceded bragging that if it wasn’t for him Grendel would still be alive.

Another monster Beowulf had to battle was Grendel’s mother. Grendel and his mother are the decedent of Cain who is the first-born evil son of Adam. Adam murdered his younger brother out of pure jealously. Grendel’s mother is characterized as a swamp-hag. His mother seemed to possess lesser human qualities than her son Grendel. Grendel’s mother lives in a cave under a lake. Grendel’s mother only killed the Danes because they decided to kill her son, which displays her motherly instinct. Grendel’s mother is even more powerful than her own son. Which then challenges Beowulf to provide all of his strength and power to take her down. Grendel’s mother possesses a supernatural strength along with determination, which is shown with her battle with Beowulf.

Grendel’s mother out of rage grabs Aeschere who was a top adviser to Hrothgar, carrying him off into the swamp as he is screaming for help. As Grednel’s mother is carrying Aeschere heading to the swamp she also grabs hold of Grendel’s severed arm. She has taken Aeschere into the swampy forest where she lives. In the swampy forest, there is a magical lake deeper then you could even imagine where the water burns at the bottom. Beowulf is then called to track her down swimming to the bottom of a fiery lake. In the book Beowulf by Seamus Heaney on line 1500 and 1520 shows Beowulf might not be as strong and heroic as we all thought. On line 1500 it states “So she lunged and clutched and managed to catch him in her brutal grip; but his body, for all that, remained unscathed.

As well as on line 1520 states “the hero observed the swamp thing from hell, the tarn-hag in all her terrible strength, the heaved his war-sword and swung his arm: the decorated blade came down ringing and singing on her head”. As Beowulf being the all mighty strong hero any weapon he had would work to kill his opponent because of his strength. Unfortunately, the sword did not cause any damage to Grendel’s mother so than Beowulf noticed another sword. The sword he saw was big enough to cause damage to a monster like her which then resulted in chopping off her head killing her. After killing Grendel’ mother Beowulf saw Grendel’s body so to end them both he cut off his head as well. “But he soon found his battle-torch extinguished: the shining blade refused to bite, it spared her and failed the man in his need”. If Beowulf was a true hero like he portrays he is he would have done everything to protect his people. He would have never let Grendel’s mother even have a chance to capture anyone especially Aeschere knowing he just killed her son. Beowulf would have done everything in his power to keep everyone safe rather than worrying about his sleep. Which what caused him to not be able to reach Grendel’s mother in time. When someone who is vein and conceded they think they are the best and no one is above them.

If Beowulf was the best of the best like he thinks he is Grendel’s mother would not even have the chance to grab hold on him. Especially Beowulf would have had the strength to escape her without even struggling like he was when in battle with her. When observing Beowulf’s heroism with the dragon there are examples that may challenge it. Beowulf become heir to the kingdom due to the death of his uncle. Beowulf then shows he has matured and in 50 years he was king. All was going well with Beowulf as king until the dragon arrives. The dragon in Beowulf is an ancient serpent that guard’s a horde of treasure within a hidden mound. What caused the dragon to become so angry was that a slave who was on the run from his master found the treasure. The salve thought it was a good idea to take the cup to his master as payment. When the dragon woke up he noticed his cup was missing.

The dragon was so mad he started to demolish everything including burning the throne hall. Beowulf then decided his was his time to stop the dragon. Beowulf was in battle with the dragon not only once but fought him three time. On page 175 of Seamus Heaney’s Beowulf book it discusses the battle between Beowulf and the dragon where his powerful sword failed him yet again. On line 2580 it states, “Beowulf was foiled, of a glorious victory, the glittering sword, infallible before that day failed when he unsheathed it”. As I stated before a hero’s weapon should never fail against it opponents. That it should always beat them causing the hero to leave with the victory.

Later in the story the dragon attacks again causing Beowulf to be unprepared in the fight hoping his sword would help him with the battle. Unfortunately, the brave hero’s weapon did not help end the battle with the dragon. Beowulf realized he wasn’t as strong as he used to be when he was fighting Grendel. As Beowulf was battling the dragon he was losing where his men are looking at him terrified. Out of all the 13 men he took with him Wiglaf was there to step up and help Beowulf battle the dragon. Wiglaf see that Beowulf down and is unable to continue to fight the dragon. Beowulf then pulls out his knife, stabbing the dragon in his underbelly. With Beowulf stabbing the dragon with the knife makes the dragon stop battling. As I continued reading on page 181 the dragon’s third onslaught drew blood where it unfortunately put poison in Beowulf’s body. On page 183 lines 2710-2720 it states, “the wound dealt by the ground burner earlier began to scald and swelling, Beowulf discovered deadly poison suppurating his body”.

On page 181 lines 2690 it states, “the fire breathing dragon was mad to attack for the third time”. It also states on line 2690 “When a chance came, he caught the hero in a rush of flames and clamped sharp fangs into his neck”. “Beowulf’s body ran wet with his life-blood: it came welling out”. As Beowulf is dying due to the poisonous bite the dragon gave him he asks Wiglaf to enter the dragons cave. Beowulf wanted Wiglaf to grab some of the treasure so he could see what he put his life at risk for. As a hero, you should be more worried about if your people are okay rather than looking at the material things you’ve died for. Beowulf then asked for Wiglaf to take over in his place as ruler handing him the collar around his neck. After he handed off his collar to Wiglaf, Beowulf takes his last breath and dies. “As time goes on Beowulf’s deeds do less and less good until they actually go bad”.

With this challenging Beowulf’s heroism, a true hero would not get struck with anything letting their opponent to win. If Beowulf were a true hero, he would have thought of other ways to defeat the dragon. With the dragon causing Beowulf to bleed out put the dragon above Beowulf even if the dragon did die as well. Even if Beowulf did kill Grendel, Grendel’s mother and the dragon he did it in a selfish way. Especially when fighting the dragon Beowulf knew he grew weaker. A hero no matter what will consume a boost of strength when batting knowing he wants to protect his people. Hero’s will do anything in his power to do so. With Beowulf being vein and full of him he would have probably had a better outcome with his 3 opponents. In any hero book the villain always loses causing the hero to come out with a solid victory.

If Beowulf was more into being a hero over being glorified he might have slayed the dragon and came out alive. As I stated that Beowulf might not be the ideal hero we all expected he still did fight for noble causes. Beowulf might have fought with a terrible attitude, but he still fought the 3 monsters. Beowulf does anything for honor, but he does most of his battle for glory. The one fight I saw Beowulf fight with nobility over glory was when he battled with the dragon. This is because when battling with Grendel and Grendel’s mother he was young. For him being young he was immature and only worried about himself image. When battling with the dragon Beowulf wasn’t young anymore and grew mature as being king.

Once he realized he wasn’t as strong as before he then started battling the dragon with a purpose. Beowulf wasn’t fighting the dragon for himself but for his people like it was his responsibility. It was the dragon that made Beowulf fight for a purpose rather than honor and glory. The message behind the epic poem Beowulf is that the monster makes the hero because it shows different sides of the hero and his purpose.

10 October 2020
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