What is a Hero? A hero is someone that is admired for their courage, achievements, and noble qualities. In Anglo-Saxon culture to be a hero they had to be warriors, they had to be strong, intelligent, have courage, face and fight to the death for glory. The Anglo-Saxon hero could be all of this and still be able to be humble. Beowulf defines the perfect characteristics of a Anglo-Saxon hero. In the poem, Beowulf is admired for his achievements, intelligents, his physical strength, and courage when facing danger. Beowulf is an ideal hero and king as displayed by his bravery and courage and his intangible characteristics; however, this does not mean that he doesn’t have his flaws/shortcoming. Beowulf wants all the attention on him asks for no help when it comes to fighting, lets his warriors die, has no family to become the next leader, keeps trying to fight battles but is getting too old.
In the first part of the poem Hrothgar, king of the danes, built a hall called Heorot where all the the warriors celebrate the numerous victories irritated by the noise Grendel, a giant man-eating demon, attacks Heorot and eats most of the warriors, Beowulf hears about Hrothgar trouble and gathers up 14 of his men and sets sail. That night when Beowulf and his men are in the Heorot, Grendel comes bursting through the door and snatches the first geat “ripped him apart cut his body to bits with powerful jaws,drank the blood from his veins and bolted him down, hands and feet; death” ( line 263) Grendel then reaches for the next victim which is Beowulf but is surprised when Beowulf grip is stronger than anything Grendel has felt before, he becomes frightened and tries to escape but Beowulf’s grip is too strong and rips Grendel’s arm from the socket, mortally wounded, Grendel flees back to his home to die. Beowulf places Grendel’s arm on the wall of Heorot as a trophy.
When Grendel’s Mother finds out about Grendel’s death she becomes anger and wants revenge after the celebration is over, while everyone is asleep Grendel’s Mother enters the Heorot and snatches Hrothgar closest friend Aeschere and steals back Grendel’s arm. When Hrothgar hears what had happened he is devastated he puts his faith in Beowulf “Grendel’s Mother is hidden in her terrible home, in a place you’ve not seen. Seek it, if you dare! save us, once more, and again twisted gold, heaped-up ancient treasure, will reward you for the battle you win!” (line 445) Beowulf and his men ride out, tracking Grendel’s mother steps they end up at the lake where Grendel’s Mother lives.
Beowulf leaps into the lake, took him hours before he reached the bottom, Grendel’s mother welcome Beowulf by snatching him by her talon, but his body is protected by his chain-mail armor. Beowulf swings his sword down onto her head with great force, but the sword fails to cut her. Beowulf throws his sword aside and fights Grendel’s mother with his bare hands, wrestling and struggling Beowulf spots a ponderous, ancient sword. He swings it toward Grendel’s mother cutting deeply into her neck and killing her. He then finds Grendel’s body and, decapitates it. The giant sword that Beowulf found melts quickly because the blood of Grendel is so poisonous that it destroys metal. Beowulf sees enormous amounts of treasure in Grendel’s mother’s lair, but all he takes is the melted sword and Grendel’s decapitated head. Beowulf swims back to the surface where his warriors are thrilled to see him. They returned back to Heorot to celebrate. The next morning Beowulf and his men sailed back home.
Beowulf has defeated Grendel and his mother, and has ruled the Geats for fifty years. Until a thief who stumbles across the dragon’s secret cave filled with treasure, tries to steal a golden cup, to repay his master for a crime he committed. The dragon woke up and found out he has been robbed and took revenge on the nearby people destroying everything in his path even Beowulf’s home, Beowulf is pretty old by this point in time but still decides to take on the dragon. Beowulf and his men set off to fight the dragon during the battle Beowulf strikes his sword against the dragon’s thick scales, but his strength is weak now. When the dragon blew flames of fire all of Beowulf’s men run in terror besides one warrior, Wiglaf. He tells the others that they are cowards for not being loyal to their leader. During the battle the dragon snips at Beowulf and slices his neck.
Beowulf manages to pull out a knife tucked in his belt and stabs the dragon. Together, Beowulf and Wiglaf kill the dragon. Beowulf’s last words “I thank God that I can give my people these gifts of gold. But you must see to the people’s needs now, Wiglaf. I cannot be here anymore. tell my warriors to build a great burial mound on the cliffs that stick out into the sea and call it Beowulf’s Barrow, and my people will remember me.”
In the end Beowulf proves that he is great as he claims to be. He performed many brave stunts, risked his life for others, and had no problem putting himself in danger. Beowulf is an Anglo-Saxon hero till this day.