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The Characteristics Of Courage

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Saving a baby from a burning building. Spending time with passing ones. Standing up for political rights. These acts look odd when they are put together, but they do exemplify one shared foundation, courage. Courage is the ability to show determination in times of risk and strength in the face of danger. It is the opportunity to display growth and bravery in pressing situations. A character that illustrates these traits is Beowulf from “Beowulf and the Fight with Grendel” written by Rosemary Sutcliff, a triumph tale of one’s bravery. There is also Raven, from “How the Raven Lost His Beak” by Bill Reid and Robert Bringhurst, a trickster story about overcoming difficulties. And finally, Katniss Everdeen, from “The Hunger Games” directed by Gary Ross, portrays a story of how one’s values and morals lead to conquest. Beowulf, Raven, and Katniss each demonstrates a trait of physical, emotional, and moral courage, respectively, proving that one must be multifaceted in the realms of heroism to overcome challenges.

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Beowulf presents qualities of physical courage through his various pursuits of natural ability that lead to valour. Firstly, near the beginning of the fight, it is clear that Beowulf possesses a lot of physical strength. As narrated in the text, “this time [Grendel’s] hand was met and seized in a grasp such as he had never felt before; a grasp that had in it the strength of thirty men” (Sutcliff 84). Because Beowulf is a prince of the Geats, he has presumably a lot of training resources that he could have acquired beforehand. However, no matter how many figures aid him, it still takes a lot of hard work and effort to gain so much muscle that it is comparable to the strength of thirty. This athleticism supports him to victory. Secondly, during the fight, Beowulf demonstrates abilities of bodily stamina, by his growth throughout the fight. Even Grendel is running out of energy while Beowulf tries to keep a cool head: “All the while Grendel shrieked and Beowulf fought in silence save for his gasping breaths” and later, “Beowulf’s hold was as fierce as ever” (85, 85). Although Beowulf is out of breath and absolutely drained from this match against Grendel, he keeps his promise of killing him, with a strong hold. One could easily infer that Beowulf has a moment of internal panic and question whether challenging Grendel was a good idea. He may even experience flashbacks of significant memories in his life as death feels so near, but his bodily endurance guides him through. Therefore, Beowulf acquires accomplishment through physical courage by demonstrating his strength and stamina whilst fighting Grendel, justifying that a combination of these assets can lead to overcoming the Grendels, or issues, in one’s life.

Raven reveals emotional courage through his multiple quests of conquering fear, showing he holds an abundant amount of internal faith. To begin, Raven overcomes his fear of rejection that he may not get his beak back. He knows he may not survive and does not know what will happen next. It describes that the Raven is bewildered when “[he] clung to the kelp for some moments in agony, wondering how he would ever be able to eat properly again. Then he rose to the surface at last and flew high into the air, watching the fishermen paddle away” (Reid, Bringhurst 77). Raven must be terrified to die, for if he does not retrieve his beak back, any animal he transforms into will still be nose-less. Even if he morphs into a salmon without a nose, Raven will still bear deformities and inconveniences. However, he swiftly puts this worry to rest as he starts to think of a spectacular plan, exemplifying growth over worries in a short period of time. Furthermore, Raven will find a positive outcome no matter how much it costs, despite the fact that there may be negative ones as well. For example, “[o]nce [Raven] was satisfied they would be there all evening, he flew back out to the sea in the fading light, looking for anything that would help him recover his beak, and when his sharp ears heard it, he knew what he was seeking: the mournful peal of the wounded killer whale” (77). From here, Raven obtains the idea to use the tormented whale as a disturbance for the fishermen, even if it means taking the whale’s life. Raven, however, does not even require the whale, as he could manage to acquire his beak before the whale comes into play. This is revenge for swallowing his salmon self, but one may also argue that Raven is humane because he puts an end to the whale’s pain and suffering by instructing him to leave the water. Either way, Raven does whatever it takes to get his precious beak back. For these reasons, Raven portrays emotional courage by overcoming his fear of rejection and compromising anything for enjoyment, recognizing that one requires both these intelligences to ease worries.

Lastly, Katniss Everdeen displays moral courage through her consistent willingness to do things for the greater good, earning her achievement and defeat. To start off, Katniss stands up for everyone, not just her family, not just her district, but for all the districts as a whole against the government. (The Hunger 1:54:26-1:54:31) In this scene, Katniss has an obvious opportunity to shoot an arrow and kill Finch, the district five girl. Yet Katniss, with her incredible aim, does not attack her and will only harm others in cases of self-defence. The deeper concept of this is that Katniss may not feel the need to hurt a female. Katniss relates to her with the situation they are in, how distanced and hopeless they feel from the outer world. She understands Finch’s need for her necessity, and may not see her as a threat. Either way, Katniss does not harm her, showing that she is standing up for not only her district, but femininity as a whole. Following that, Katniss conveys moral courage by putting others in front of herself, even when she is suffering herself. (1:56:47-1:57:03) Here, both Katniss and Peeta are in need of this limited amount of cream. Although Katniss’ cut is newer and more prone to infection, while Peeta may just be a lost cause, Katniss rejects Peeta’s advice that she needs some too. This is because she cares for Peeta so much; it is Katniss’ way of implying that she does not want to lose him. As her romantic feelings for him keep growing, Gary is in the back of her mind. Nonetheless, Katniss sets aside her own internal conflicts to make sure Peeta is fully taken care of, presenting that she is unselfish and kind. Thus, Katniss Everdeen reveals moral courage by fighting for the greater good and putting others in front of her, validating that victory comes to those with righteous values.

Ultimately, Beowulf , Raven, and Katniss each exhibits points of physical, moral, and emotional courage, justifying that conquering roadblocks takes an all-rounded individual to accomplish. In sequence, Beowulf shows that triumph originates from quantity and quality. His remarkable physical strength and stamina allow him to defeat Grendel. Raven then proves that emotional courage comes from internal stability and vigor, where his overcoming the fear of rejection and risking anything for happiness model his strong internal trust. Finally, Katniss justifies that moral courage is derived from an eagerness to do the right thing. The way she stands up for everyone and puts others in front of herself identifies these values. Therefore, courage is important in literature and in real life because lessons can be taken from book to self. These teachings model how one can enhance one’s life skills that lead to victory and valour like the characters in literature. No matter how many roadblocks life throws at one, and life will, some form of courage is needed to overcome these difficulties to allow growth and personal development; otherwise life would most likely be extremely miserable. When times like these come, overcoming obstacles not only benefits someone as a person, but also benefits others in one’s life, allowing them to have a role model to look up to. And so, courage is essential to being successful because it can make for great experiences that change a person’s life.

31 August 2020

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