Between the 450’s and 1100’s, the Anglo-Saxons lived in the Island of Briton, what is today Great Britain. These people were basically farmers and hunters, who lived in tribes that were considered tightly knit and fiercely loyal. These land was a constant prey for the Vikings, Romans and Celts (Britons), who in taking away their territory, also wished to swipe away their culture. However, they could not steal their high spiritedness. The Anglo-Saxons kept on their traditional parties which consisted of music, dancing, and story telling. They were fascinated with tales of monsters, battles and fearless behavior. These tales were maintained by oral tradition and later became written epic poems such as Beowulf, composed by an unknown poet, which is a classic example of a heroic epic. Also these tales talked about heroes and the most admired characteristics of these men, such as bravery and intelligence as well as other not so common ones, like loyalty, generosity, kindness, and strength. Beowulf is a Geat from a region that is today southern Sweden, who sets sail from his homeland to try to liberate Herot, Hrothgar’s hall, of a monster that has been ravaging for twelve years. This monster, Grendel, is an enormous creature, which battles with Beowulf, a young adventurer wanting fame.
Throughout this epic poem , various heroic elements can be appreciated, which reflect the values by which the Anglo-Saxon society lived as strength, loyalty, and bravery. Beowulf has outstanding characteristics that convert him into a real hero. In this epic, Beowulf use strength in all fights to get out victoriously. He and some minor characters demonstrates loyalty during the battles to serve the warriors who where there. Finally, Beowulf displays bravery, during fights, and struggles with natural facts . Therefore, in this poem Beowulf, the characteristics of strength, loyalty, and bravery, represent the heroic elements of the Anglo-Saxon period.
There are three mortal battles. The first battle is the one with Grendel. The second struggle is between Beowulf and Grendel’s mother, and the third, half a century later, against a dragon. Through all this battles Beowulf shows strength. The “famous prince”(pg42, L1685) fights with “fate against him”(pg42, Li685) and his “glory denied,” (pg42, L1685) denoting his determined and strong self, since at the time it is of such importance that fate be always with you. When Beowulf is moribund, he stares at death defiantly, “unwilling to leave this world, “(pg42, Li700) confident of his desire for life and his service to others. During the battle with the dragon, Beowulf “stands firm”(pg41, L1675) and “prepares”(pg41, L1675) for the monster’s raging approach. “Edgetho’s son”(pg38, Li525) searches for a weapon to help him beat the “mighty water witch”(pg37,Li492) the engenderer of Grendel, finally finding a sword “so massive that no ordinary man could lift,”(pg38, Li533) however Beowulf raises it and “struck with all the strength he had left.”(pg38,L1538).
The coming of Beowulf, “staggering under the weight of Grendels skull, “(pg39, L1607) as he hands the skull to his brave warriors he sees that the head is “too heavy for fewer than four” (pg39, Li608) men to handle. In the first struggle of the epic poem, Beowulf rips savagely Grendels arm. This shows that “the mighty protector of men”(pg30,366) of “all the men on earth”(pg 30,Li364) he is “the strongest.”(pg 30,Li365) When Beowulf is killing Grendel, the enormous centaur, he “holds him till its life leaps out.”(pg 30, Li368) In the same struggle, with Grendel’s mother, “the Geat’s great lord”(pg30, Li450) knows that if “weapons were useless, “(pg37,Li507) he will use the strength of his fingers.”(pg37,Li508) Therefore, throughout this epic, it is evident that strength helps make Beowulf a hero. In this poem, the Anglo-Saxons demonstrates, when a person or just a warrior does an outstanding action by using a heroic element as strength. it does not matter age, what really matters is his mental and physical strength.
Loyalty is also a heroic element shown in this poem by Beowulf and some minor characters. Loyalty, is a large heroic trait, that each single warrior, should have. Before going to battle, Wiglaf swears to repay Beowulf; “when the time comes, kindness for kindness!”(pg43,Li749) This shows why Wiglaf acts so loyal during fights, especially in the last, where he risks his life, to save “Edgetho’s son.” In the second part of the poem, “The Coming of Beowulf,” when the Geat’s proud prince”(pg32, Li404) finally reaches Herot, Hrothgar’s banquet hall, his goal is to be the “lord and protector”(pg27, L.256) of this noble place. After he promises the sheltered warriors protection he adds, that this one favor, “you should not refuse me.”(pg27,Li259) It is clearly proved that one of the requirements to be a hero is to give service to others. In the last battle, when quickly “the dragon comes at him”(pg42,Li704) and now Beowulf is “a beaten warrior,”(pg42,Li708) none of his comrades succored him, they just “run for their lives.”(pg42,Li710) Only one of the “fourteen brave and noble warrior,”(pg42,Li709) stayed there by remembering as a good man must, “what kindship should mean.”(pg42,713) This demonstrates the loyal characteristic of Wiglaf, because he does not let die his prince. Wiglaf is grateful, for all the things the king, gives him. At the end of the poem, just before the battle between the dragon and Beowulf, the warriors leave, but loyalty obligates him to fight alone to help his people “while breath still comes to his lips.”(pg43, Li768) Beowulf is approaching death, but is loyal to them. Nothing worthies more than what surround him. the loyalty of Beowulf and other minor characters reflect the way in which the Anglo-Saxons understands loyalty, because they consider a loyal person, the one who gives his life for a honorable and reasonable cause, and is available to serve several times. It is clearly explained, the use of Loyalty throughout this epic.
During this epic poem, bravery, one of the most important and necessary heroic character traits are displayed by “the mighty protector of men.” At the beginning of this narrative poem, Beowulf and his crew set their ship when crossing the whale’s way “out on the waves, under the cliffs,”(pg25, Li126) he says to the soldiers, “I have stand on these cliffs, “(pg25,Li154) and adds “longer that you know.”(pg25, Li155) In other words, he shows bravery, because he convinces the soldiers, that he has sailed voluminously, most sarcastic situations. In the battle with “the guardian of crime,”(pg29, Li325) Beowulf’s mind is full of fear.”(pg29,Li327) He is so brave that nothing could take “his talons and himself from that tight.”(pg29, Li329) Further, in the battle against Grendel’s mother, Beowulf resolves to kill the lady monster. When he arrives the lake under she lives, he “sinks for hours through the waves, “(pg36, Li469) denoting his bravery of not accomplishing the mission of sla 892 ying her. Also, in this under-water adventure, the young hero has to combat other beasts, like one of them who “welcomes him in her claws.”(pg36,Li475) Beowulf has clear in his mind, that if he confrontates the dragon, he will be killed , but he knows death is the final destiny of this great career; “to the death that was waiting,”(pg46, Li837) Beowulf” follows them,”(pg46,Li838) (the ones who go to heaven). For the Anglo-Saxons, bravery was a very unique and peerless characteristic, because only heroes as Beowulf, were fulfilled of bravery. Throughout “Beowulf,” bravery is displayed in a singular and understandable manner.
In the epic “Beowulf,” one can clearly see the heroic elements that represent the effects of the AngloSaxons on society such as strength, loyalty, and bravery. For a conclusion, heroic elements represent all the great actions that the Anglo-Saxons believed in, practiced by heroes, so they could keep on maintaining hope. In this epic, Beowulf uses strength in all fights to get out victoriously. He and some minor characters demonstrates loyalty during the battles to serve the warriors who where there. Finally, Beowulf displays bravery, during fights, and struggles with natural facts. In my opinion, heroism is one of the greatest traits throughout the world that each day hesitates for a better living. Quotes as “Some talk of Alexander, and some of Hercules, Of Hector and Lysander, and such great names as these; but all of the world’s brave heroes there is none that can compare with a tow, row, row, row for the British Grenadier,”1 “They died to save their country and they only saved the world,”2 “I think continually of those who were truly great. The names of those who in their lives fought for life, Who wore at their hearts the fire’s centre,”3 reflect the massive affect and love people have towards heroes. Beowulf is one of these, who saved Herot from Grendel, the enormous monster.