The Role Of Heroes In Beowulf

Superior Essays
Through all ages and in all cultures, humans have admired and revered those who stand up for what they believe in and often display immense strength. We call them heroes. Everyone defines what a hero is differently depending on their own experiences and beliefs. Heroes come in many different forms and types but all possess one quality which define who they are. The heroes in all three of the major time periods that will be focused on have this quality in abundance. Every element and aspect of a hero can all be traced back to this singular quality that from which other virtues such as strength of character and bravery are a byproduct of. To truly be a hero, one must have a sacrificial attitude and often put the good of others before their own. …show more content…
In this time period, heroes lived by a set of virtues similar to a code. They believed in values such as loyalty, nobility, generosity, and honor. They were great warriors who won fierce victories and brought home the spoils of war to their king or dryhten. In Beowulf, Wiglaf displays great loyalty and self-sacrifice when he said “I would rather my body were robbed in the same burning blaze as my gold-givers body than go back home bearing arms” (2650-2652). At this time, he is lecturing the other cowardly men who ran away. Wiglaf is willing to give his life in the defense of his leader as a loyal servant. Beowulf’s loyal thane has the attitude of self-sacrifice because he cares for his commander so much he would rather die than come back in shame for not coming to his aid. This is true heroism. However, Beowulf is the title character for a reason. “Once again the king gathered his strength and drew a stabbing knife…He stuck it deep into the dragon’s flank… Beowulf discovered deadly poison suppurating inside him” (Beowulf 2701-2703, 2713-2714). Beowulf gave his life and with his final act defeated the dragon. He knew he had to defend his people. Without his sacrifice, all of the Geats would have died. His self-sacrificial attitude saved his people. Both Beowulf and Wiglaf display the important quality of a hero, their willingness to give their lives for their people or leaders. Although these …show more content…
Nevertheless, we have heroes in our culture today. They are often portrayed in movies and TV shows as people with extraordinary powers that do extraordinary thing,s but this is not always the case. To be a hero one does not need super speed or the ability to fly but rather the strength of character that comes with having a loving and sacrificial attitude. Public servants, such as firemen and police officers are often referred to, correctly, as heroes. On September 11, 2001, the World Trade Center in New York was attacked in an act of terrorism that eventually brought the buildings down. Thousands of local and out of state firefighters and disaster response personal bravely ventured into the collapsing buildings to save people trapped inside by fires and other hazards. Timothy Stackpole was a 21 year veteran New York firefighter who went into the burning building and saved a woman from the flames and a collapsing ceiling before his legs were pinned and he suffered 3rd degree burns all over his body. He did not survive. Timothy and many other brave public servants risk their live day in and day out for the safety of other people who they often have never met. It is this self-sacrificial attitude that defines a modern day hero. To risk your life for someone who’s name you don’t even know takes a special person that puts others before themselves. Very few

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