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How Beowulf Qualifies As An Epic Hero

How Beowulf Qualifies As An Epic Hero (unfinished)

Beowulf is the main character of the Anglo-Saxon epic poem, Beowulf. In this poem, Beowulf displays a number of qualities that characterizes an epic hero. Though he is human, this man seems to have an almost god-like feeling about him; he seems to take every challenge thrown at him easily, and is practically unbeatable. Through his noble deeds of valor, Beowulf has become a famous historical figure in literature.

Beowulf is the son of Edgetho and the cousin of Higlac, the king of the Geats. He is a reputable warrior; he “… drove/Five great giants into chains… swam/In the darkness of the night, hunting monsters/Out of the ocean, and killing them one/By one” (“Beowulf” 14-19). He boasts of being able to defeat the Grendel as soon as he is introduced to the Danish king, Hrothgar. Throughout the poem, Beowulf is seen defeating all of his enemies, including Grendel, his mother, various lake-dwelling monsters, and a dangerous fire-breathing dragon. Hrothgar commends him on a job well done, telling the Geat warrior “this prince/Of the Geats, Beowulf, was born a better/Man” (“Grendel’s Mother 356-358). This clearly shows the respect that Beowulf has earned himself from kings and warriors through the years. He becomes king of the Geats, and rules with peace for 50 years.

Beowulf fights three main adversaries in the poem: Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and a Fire Dragon. They represent lust, wrath (or vengeance), and greed, three of the seven deadly sins of man. These characters seem to be unbeatable by normal human standards, yet for a remarkable warrior such as Beowulf, they are able to be defeated. This shows how he is like a super-human; regular human troubles do not seem to faze him. He knows that he is the only one suited for the job of conquering these enemies, as he is “…greater/And stronger than anyone else in this world” (“Grendel” 110-111). When Grendel’s mother attacks the Danes, Beowulf is called upon almost immediately for help. Before going to fight his final battle with the Fire Dragon, Beowulf tells his followers that “… No one else could do/What I mean to, here, no man but me/Could hope to defeat this monster. No one/Could try” (“The Fire Dragon” 70-73).

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