Skip to content

Beowulf Essay Characteristics Of An Epic Hero

Beowulf embodies several traits that make him a textbook epic hero. Some of these traits include his larger-than-life physical strength, his courage in the face of extreme danger, and his loyalty to both his superiors and to the men who serve him.

An epic hero is not perfect or immortal, but he is a sort of super human. He is larger-than-life in the sense that his qualities exceed those of regular humans. For example, an...

Beowulf embodies several traits that make him a textbook epic hero. Some of these traits include his larger-than-life physical strength, his courage in the face of extreme danger, and his loyalty to both his superiors and to the men who serve him.

An epic hero is not perfect or immortal, but he is a sort of super human. He is larger-than-life in the sense that his qualities exceed those of regular humans. For example, an epic hero will have extraordinary strength. Beowulf displays this best when he fights Grendel and rips his arm from his body. Grendel is an imposing beast who has already easily destroyed a number of men, including warriors who are strong and experienced fighters. Beowulf's feat in killing Grendel perfectly displays how his physical strength sets him apart from others. 

Beowulf is also incredibly brave and willing to put himself into physical danger to save the lives of others. First, he decides to go to Hrothgar's kingdom of his own volition despite hearing the horrific reports about the damage Grendel has caused. He seeks out Grendel's mother in her cave, so he is putting himself into a foreign environment to face off with an angry, violent monster. Later in his life, when he is much older, Beowulf sacrifices himself fighting a dragon to protect his kingdom. 

Finally, Beowulf is loyal to superiors and to the men who serve him. Before he goes into a battle or fights any of the monsters he faces, he makes sure his men will be taken care of. He is their lord, and they swear fealty to him. He is responsible for them, and he holds up his end of the bargain. Beowulf is repaid by one of his men, who finishes off the dragon after it has mortally wounded Beowulf himself. His men also honor him after his death, memorializing him as the epic hero he has proven himself to be. 

"Beowulf" An Epic Hero Essay

Beowulf: An Epic Hero

Something that is extraordinary must come from a superbly made original. This is true with the subject of the epic hero, and more specifically with the work of Beowulf. Beowulf, which is the oldest surviving epic in Anglo-Saxon literature, is a rich fabric of fact and fantasy. Written by an anonymous scop in 6th century A.D., Beowulf tells the story of a protagonist who rids lands of monsters and all things evil. The main character, Beowulf, is an epic hero because he fulfills the Anglo-Saxon traits of strength, nobility, and courage. Three specific examples of these traits that occur in the poem are Beowulf's battle with the monster Grendel, Beowulf's battle with Grendel's mother the Sea-Hag, and finally his last encounter with the fire breathing dragon.

A hero is a person noted for their act of courage and the nobleness of their purpose. The hero of an epic poem embodies the ideals of conduct that are most valued by the culture in which the epic was composed. Beowulf is described as a perfect hero who fights for his people and vanquishes evil with his extraordinary abilities to bring peace and justice. Three of Beowulf's traits that support this are his amazing physical strength, his nobleness and decency toward people, and his fearless and courageous nature.

Beowulf is a hero in the eyes of his fellow men through his amazing physical strength. He fights in numerous battles and returns victorious from all but his last. Beowulf is strong enough to kill the monster Grendel, who has been terrorizing the Danes for twelve years, with his bare hands by ripping off Grendel's arm: "He [Grendel] twisted in pain, and the bleeding sinews deep in his shoulder snapped, muscle and bone split and broke" (105-108). This feat of great strength really opened the eyes of the Danes to Beowulf's greatness. Beowulf proves himself worthy of the people's praise once again when he is fighting Grendel's mother, who is seeking revenge on her son's death. "Then he saw, hanging on the wall, a heavy sword, hammered by giants, strong and blessed with their magic, the best of all weapons but so massive that no ordinary man could lift its carved and decorated length" (242-246). He is able to slay her by slashing the monster's neck with a giant's sword that can only be lifted by a person as strong as Beowulf. This strength is a key trait of Beowulf's heroism. Beowulf's greatest physical accomplishment ends up to be his final hour against the fire breathing dragon. "...that final day was the first time when Beowulf fought and fate denied him glory in battle" (332-334). Although Beowulf's life was put to an end, his acts of great strength led to other people's lives being spared because of his slaying of the...

Loading: Checking Spelling

0%

Read more

Beowulf--author unknown....another paper on beowulf as an epic hero

651 words - 3 pages Beowulf was written during the Anglo-Saxon era. The Anglo-Saxons admired those who upheld the ethics of their society through leadership, loyalty, strength and bravery. These epic heroes prevailed over insurmountable odds, and were glorified by the people who progressed because of their victories. Beowulf did so and he ultimately surpassed the qualities of...

Epic of Beowulf Essay - Beowulf as Epic Hero

871 words - 3 pages Beowulf as Epic Hero Epic heroes usually exemplify the character traits most admired in their societies, and Beowulf is no exception.  "Beowulf" is set in the Anglo-Saxon society, a time when war was rampant among the many peoples trying to take over the different kingdoms of England.  In this dangerous, violent time people lived in constant peril and jeopardy.  These conditions only allowed people of great bravery to survive and men of...

Beowulf--unknown author...this is a paper on beowulf that tells how he is an epic hero

708 words - 3 pages The earliest recorded epic poem, Beowulf, was anonymously written during the Anglo-Saxon era (approximately 700AD). The Anglo-Saxons admired epic heroes who upheld the ethics of their society through exemplary leadership, loyalty, strength and bravery. These epic heroes prevailed over...

Heroism displayed in the epic novel of BEOWULF and Sir Gawain. This essay compares and contrasts these two characters and defines what makes a true hero.

1116 words - 4 pages Beowulf was written in the eighth century by monks. The word Beowulf means bee-hunter. It was the first book ever written. The Norse tale is principally concerning the exploits of the warrior...

Odysseus, an Epic Hero

838 words - 3 pages Picture this, a hero of great legends who travels to the underworld and back to get directions to his home from a blind prophet. It sounds like quite an impossible journey, but that’s exactly what makes Odysseus all the more interesting. The Odyssey, an epic poem orally transmitted by Homer, a Greek poet, had to contain some sort of attributes that Greeks valued in a person. That one embodiment of what the Greeks found intriguing in a character...

Beowulf: An Epic Literary Work

1955 words - 8 pages Beowulf is arguably one of the most riveting, and influential epic poems in Anglo-Saxon history. The author of this epic is still unknown as is the exact date that it was written though historians predict that it was written somewhere in between the 8th and 11th Centuries. The story is set in Scandinavia and is about a Geatish hero named Beowulf and his epics and heroics. It is a poem that follows Beowulf through his life as he comes to the...

What Makes An Epic Hero?

2714 words - 11 pages References to epic hero stories are around us all the time, although we may not realize it. For example, why do we have trophies? What are they for? Well the answer to this lies in Beowulf; the trophies are put up to remember the deeds that we have done. Epic heroes have been around for a very long time, their stories born as the creation tale for the places of their origin. The people needed their epic heroes to outline the proper way to act and...

Odysseus Defines an Epic Hero

1385 words - 6 pages Odysseus Defines an Epic Hero On a website posted by teachers at Harker Heights High, an epic hero is someone who embodies the values of a particular society. He is superhuman. An epic hero is braver, stronger, and cleverer than an ordinary person. He is on a quest for something of great value to him or his people. The villains that try to keep the hero from his quest are usually uglier, more evil, and more cunning than anyone we know...

Odysseus as an Epic Hero

1320 words - 5 pages The Odyssey is an example of Greek history portrayed in literature. As in all Greek literature, the epic hero Odysseus answers a call to action, suffers through great confrontation, and returns with a better understanding of life. Greek stories such as, The Odyssey set the stage for today's modern action movies with epic heroes such as Indiana Jones, Frodo from the Lord of the Rings, and Western cowboys like Roy Rogers and The Lone Ranger. The...

Odysseus as an Epic Hero.

632 words - 3 pages Odysseus As An Epic HeroIn the story of the Odyssey, Odysseus was put through many ordeals through which we see his moral and physical characteristics. After evaluating such characteristics we can see that Odysseus is a great epic hero. We can see that not only is he superior to most...

Beowulf: An Anglo-Saxon Epic Poem

1311 words - 5 pages The epic poem Beowulf, is a work of fiction and was composed sometime between the middle of the seventh and the end of the tenth century of the first millennium, in the language today called Anglo- Saxon or Old English. This story is a heroic narrative, more than three thousand lines long, concerning the deeds of the Scandinavian prince, also called Beowulf, and it stands as one of the foundation works of poetry in English. Beowulf is...