When the word “hero” is discussed, a person with superhuman strength and bravery battling equally superhuman beings is what is pictured. The epic poem Beowulf is no exception to that, with its ruthless monsters Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the dragon terrorizing the people of Heorot to various degrees. Beowulf himself is the poem’s namesake for a reason; his history of bravery is what allows him to slay the monsters that no one else could defeat, and he dies protecting his people from another. How much of this superhuman strength is actually Beowulf’s, and how much of it is because the monsters are so fantastical? The supernatural aspects of this poem are crucial to its success, for Beowulf would not be half the hero that he is without the fantastical beasts and monsters within the story. The supernatural is essential to not only make Beowulf an epic, but to also solidify Beowulf’s reputation as gallant hero. If these monsters were taken at just face value, with their supernatural aspects disregarded, Beowulf’s heroism would not be nearly as impressive. What exactly is a monster, and when does it become supernatural? The Collins English Dictionary defines a “monster” as “a person, animal, or plant with a marked structural deformity; a cruel, wicked, or inhuman person; a very large person, animal, or thing.” By his description alone, Grendel fulfills all aspects of the textbook definition of a monster. His true horror is described with everything from his ogre-like appearance to his blatant lack of remorse for ruthlessly killing innocent people. Grendel attacking “the Sovereign of Heaven” garners him the interesting descriptor of “dark death-shadow” (149, 139). This juxtaposition is no accident, and is used to emphasize Grendel’s demon-like presence within Heorot. Calling Grendel a demon suggests a correlation with the Devil, which has even more significance when the connection between the throne and God is realized. “Sovereign of Heaven” is a reference to both God and Hrothgar, for divine right chooses who sits upon the throne. Therefore, Grendel attacking Hrothgar’s throne is not just an attack on Heorot, but on God himself. The references to Grendel descending from Cain make this an inference that brings Grendel to supernatural status more than him being described as an ugly, ruthless killer. These associations bring Grendel from a simple, disturbed monster to one of literal Biblical proportions. In modern times, someone being referred to as a God is someone who is gracious and infallible; if the same someone is referred to as a Devil, they are the epitome of terrible, evil deeds. That is, comparison to something otherworldly elevates a person to superhuman or supernatural status. Grendel doesn’t just receive a comparison to an otherworldly being—he is related by blood to one. Grendel may be described to be stronger than the mighty Beowulf, but it is his physical characteristics along with his associations with the Bible that are what elevate him from unnatural to supernatural. Unlike with Grendel, if monstrosity were based solely on appearance, Grendel’s Mother would not gain the title of monster as easily as her son does. Being referred to as a “hellish hag” is the harshest description of her appearance that she receives (1345). More focus is put on her “bitterly brooding” manner, and rightfully so (1111). Beowulf is regarded as a man with insurmountable strength throughout the course of the poem, so it is surprising to both reader and hero that he struggles so while battling Grendel’s Mother. She is just a weak, simple woman, and therefore the battle should be easy. After all, her “wrathful fingers/failed to rip open the armor he wore” during their encounter when Beowulf initially enters her cave. Of course she cannot break through the armor he wears; he is Beowulf and she is a weak woman. That is, a weak woman fueled by revenge. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, especially a woman whose son was just
Beowulf was written in the eighth century by an unknown author. This story is centered on Beowulf, the main character, who goes to Denmark to offer his aid in fighting off, Grendel, the monster who has been haunting them. Beowulf most definitely proves to be a hero. His heroism is demonstrated first when he kills Grendel, then when he kills Grendel’s mother, and finally when he kills the dragon, called Worm. This makes him a hero because he risks his own life to save the people of…
Beowulf is perhaps the most important work from Anglo-Saxon literature. The poem tells the story of Beowulf, a warrior from Geatland, which is now present-day Sweden. His self-imposed purpose in life is to help others, and eventually sacrifices his own life in doing so. Beowulf's battle with the dragon serves as a critique of the notion that Beowulf is a hero. Even though Beowulf was seeking glory, he still was a hero.
Beowulf is a hero because the definition of a hero is “the…
17 October 2014
Beowulf as An Epic Novel
In the novel, Beowulf there are many examples of archetypes and symbols used. A few archetypes that the reader is sure to contemplate while reading Beowulf are heroic and evil forces. Symbols brought to attention in Beowulf are Grendel’s Hand and Mead Hall (Heorot). With the use of archetypes and symbols, the novel of Beowulf is easily classified as an epic.
Beowulf’s heroism is the main archetype expressed in the novel. As…
Beowulf, one of the oldest surviving epic poems of Anglo-Saxon literature, is a heroic adventure of a great Scandinavian warrior battling dragons and ogres. Beowulf is a very memorable story because it makes use of exemplary examples of literary elements. It also demonstrates values of bravery and loyalty that were important during the warrior era. Three elements that help develop the poem are bravery, antagonists, and imagery.
Bravery is one of the key elements of this poem. Beowulf…
Decline of a Monster
Beowulf perfectly illustrates the characteristics of what it means to be considered a perfect hero. The poem clearly shows his heroism in two completely different eras, Beowulf as a young man and then again when he is much older. This is shown through battles of three monsters, Grendel, Grendel’s Mother, and the dragon; each is progressively more difficult than the last. But as the poem digresses it is easy to see that the biggest monster that Beowulf fights is himself.
The various adaptations of the Beowulf legend provide a form of courageousness. The following are sources concerning the Beowulf myth: Grendel, a novel by John Gardner, and Beowulf and Grendel, a film directed by Sturla Gunnarson. These pieces contain acts of genuine bravery, but they also depict instances where lack of courage is shown. The prevalence of bravery juxtaposed with cowardice within the novel and the film suggests that acts of heroism are situational and dependent upon one’s exhibited…
22 October 2013
Warrior code in Beowulf
Beowulf, which was written centuries ago, was one of the most important works of English literature. The context of the epic is the sixth century in what is now known as Denmark and Sweden. In such a society where Beowulf takes place, the warrior code, which includes reputation, courage, loyalty and revenge, defined how a noble person should act. This heroic adventure tells the tale of Beowulf, a brave knight, whose fame is known throughout…
The epic Beowulf showed many mythological elements in it. Beowulf is filled with references to Norse gods, mythical monsters, weapons with magical powers, and races of giants. A big give away that it contains mythological elements is it makes references to pagan elements that indicate myths and legends in early medieval times. The elements contain the basic concept of heroism. The main topic of monsters and magic in the epic also are evidence that this movie comes from an older, pagan tradition inclosing…
September 2, 2014
The Anglo-Saxons historical and cultural background has a lot of influence on Beowulf. Beowulf poses as a great heroic warrior, because of his willingness to fight and kill off the blood-hungry Grendel during what is known as the Dark Ages. Through an all bloody battle between the two Beowulf is able to show off his heroism. Beowulf is willing to risk his life in order to save others and to kill the unstoppable blood-seeking Grendel.
Beowulf vs Achilles Who’s the better hero?
February 18, 2015
The qualities of the main characters in both
characteristics of a hero in an epic. Both Beowulf, and Achilles are highly positioned in their
societies, determine the fate of a nation, and have supernatural powers. Differences in
Beowulf and Achilles include their motives for battle, and their loyalty to their people.
Beowulf and Achilles were both born into royal blood…