Throughout the story of Beowulf, the author talks of the character of Beowulf and his traits of heroism. This poem explores his tales and his progression within the story. His transformation into a hero occurs gradually throughout his whole life, from his youth to his death. His path for glory and heroism is found through the main conflicts—Grendel, Grendel’s Mother, and the Dragon—respectively, each being a tougher fight than the last.
In Act I of the poem, the setting and characterization of Beowulf is revealed more. It is known that Beowulf already has shown many heroic traits through his actions. He has purged Denmark of its plague and is ready to advance his life. Beowulf is told of the monster Grendel, who was terrorizing the Danes. He chooses to venture to the Danes to help King Hrothgar and his people. Beowulf faces Grendel and ends victorious after hand to hand combat with the monster. This battle shows the audience how strong and honorable Beowulf actually is choosing to go hand to hand. To Hrothgar, it shows that Beowulf is indeed as a good as his word and is a brave and noble warrior, all traits of which are important for a hero.
In Act II, Grendel’s mother comes for vengeance for the death of Grendel. She takes one of Hrothgar’s closest allies and Beowulf decides to step in and help find the monster. Beowulf tells the king with his men and are offered treasure. Beowulf accepts, but not just for the treasure. Beowulf sees this act of violence as his job to fix and decides to fight the monster on his own. He doesn’t think twice and swims to the lair in the lake of which, is surrounded with sea monsters. Although more difficult than his last fight, Beowulf is a fighter and is willing to do whatever it takes for his glory. He is grasped by her and uses a giant’s sword and chainmail armor to defeat her, which is different from the last fight. Although it seems unhonorable, Beowulf needed the weapon to defeat the monster, and without it, he may not have been able to return from the battle alive. Beowulf ultimately return Grendel’s head and lives to his word as a loyal warrior for the king.
In Act III, Beowulf returns from Heorot and becomes king of the Geats and rules peacefully for fifty years. An angry dragon upset from greed ruthlessly burns Geatish homes and lands, so, Beowulf decides to fight and kill the monster for his people. He decides to leave with his men (the thanes) to the dragon’s lair to confront the monster. Upon arrival, the thanes cower and back out from fighting the beast. The character Wiglaf is the only one who stays and puts his life in the hands of his trustworthy king. The dragon fights the two and Beowulf is fatally wounded after Wiglaf finally slays it. As Beowulf is dying, he gives his golden necklace to Wiglaf. Beowulf’s necklace is most likely meant to symbolize the transfer of heroism and duty to his inheritor. His last battle displays the most out of Beowulf’s unwavering courage for his people. This act reflects on Beowulf’s transformation from a warrior to a king.
Throughout all three encounters, Beowulf has progressed as a character and has demonstrated what it is like to be a hero. He was strong, an outstanding fighter, and was very loyal to all who came into his presence. The story gives examples of his tremendous courage and strength through the description of experiences he has had. All the way up until the day he died, he lived by honor and skillfully took every battle in fair fight. He was loyal to others and earned his respect and his glory through his heroism. He feared no enemies.