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.
As a young man, Beowulf is an extremely successful warrior, shown by his ginormous wins of both bravery and strength. He also exemplifies the characteristics of loyalty, respect and most importantly pride. When the poem begins, Beowulf shows little maturity as he has always had his inhuman powers. The great king Hrothgar quickly becomes a father like figure to Beowulf and begins to give wisdom about how to be a great king. This foreshadows the second half of the poem, his impressive past as a undefeated warrior has in some ways prepared Beowulf to take claim of the throne. Years later the Geat King Hygelac dies, this is important because Beowulf doesn’t simply take the throne in which he has rightfully earned instead he chooses to support Hygelac’s son as he is whom should be the king. This act of respect only further proves his characteristics as a hero.
Beowulf progresses throughout the poem from a very unrealistic portrayal of a hero to an extremely realistic man. For his first battle Beowulf defeats Grendel simply with only his hands. Wilson 2
Here is a great monster that has been terrorizing people for years and literally as soon as the fight begins its over.
As soon as that shepard of sins discovered That he had never met on middle-earth, In any region of the world, another man With a greater handgrip, in his heart he was Afraid for his life, but none the sooner could he flee. (Lines 750-754).
This is interesting because the monster is afraid of Beowulf, which in advertently means that Beowulf is exactly that, a bigger monster. Beowulf has no problem not only defeating Grendel but he even rips off his arm as a trophy to be displayed in the hall. His next battle is rather soon by a slightly more worthy adversary, Grendel’s mother.
Quickly she gave him requital for that with a grim grasp, and grappled him to her weary, he stumbled, strongest of warriors, of foot soldiers, and took a fall. (Lines 1541-1544).
This is extremely important because for the first time in his career Beowulf actually falls. He is losing this fight to Grendel’s mother, she is able to grab him and throw him off guard which results in him tripping and falling. In addition to this in order to beat her Beowulf must use the help of a magical sword crafted by giants. Beowulf wins the fight but it is obviously evident that he needed help.
For Beowulf’s final battle with the dragon the poet illustrates that to be a good king one must think of his people not just of himself, this is where the poem becomes truly interesting Wilson 3 because Beowulf does not share this idea. The poet says that by making this sacrifice to fight the dragon Beowulf leaves his people for an unjustified reason Here we see that not only