Beowulf Characteristics as an Epic Hero

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“Epic” is a loaded work to most people. In general, an epic hero could be a hero who possesses unimaginable strength, or a personality that is unfailing. A real and raw epic hero in writing, however, must meet certain requirements regarding their abilities and character. Most of these include qualities that place his significance at a level that is above most ordinary people.

Other than looking like a god and preserving a streak of extraordinary abilities, an epic hero should also be a strong speaker, and use his skills of diction to connect with others high than him and other members of royalty. Beowulf shows off his speaking ability early on in the poem and uses it quite frequently. He first does this when he runs into the Danish guard once he reaches the land, and when he meets King Hrothgar in the mead hall: ‘’But he will find me different. I will show him how Geats shape to kill In the heat of battle. Then whoever wants to May go bravely to morning mead, when morning light, Scarfed in sun-dazzle, shines forth from the south And brings another daybreak to the world.” ” In this part, Beowulf shows that unlike the former ruler, he will finish Grendel once and for all and he will be the hero who saves everyone from bloodshed and tears.

Another characteristic of an epic hero is that the hero holds honor by going into battle with enemies that have the ability to defeat them if they lose focus, and more specifically, those who are considered to be creatures damned to hell. Grendel meets both of these traits. In the poem, the Grendel is described as most monsters coming from the biblical Cain. He is a traitor of God. Grendel is also carried away 30 of Hrothgar’s men in one night, which proves Grendel’s “monster” persona. Although Grendel is furocious, he becomes no match for Beowulf’s heroic abilities. From this action, Beowulf shows and gains honor.

After Beowulf defeats Grendel and begins to go after Grendel’s mother, he enters into another event that is basic of most heroes. Going alone into unknown territory, such as the marsh where Grendel and his mother live and his strength is tested. Beowulf goes into the water of the swamp after Hrothgar and his men killed a monster at the water’s edge. After it takes him a full day of swimming to the bottom with his superhuman breath control, Grendel’s mother grabs him and takes him to her lair.

Epic heroes, at least in the traditional sense, are most of the time, part gods. Beowulf is not described as having a godly mother or father, but he is often said to have God’s blessing. For instance, when Grendel’s mother swings at Beowulf with a sword, it does not pierce his skin. The author says that Beowulf’s armor was too strong for the sword, but its strength came directly from the grace of God. The weapons of epic heroes are mostly notable heirlooms or important gifts. Beowulf’s sword, Hrunting, is a powerful heirloom given to him by Unferth, who was afraid to carry it himself.


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Beowulf Characteristics as an Epic Hero. (2021, Apr 28). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/beowulf-characteristics-as-an-epic-hero/

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