Human Traits In Beowulf

1369 Words 6 Pages
Throughout literature, every culture has created their own idea of the perfect man and hero. These cultures were trying to formulate a man who could fight in wars, slay dragons, and rule a country all at the same time. For the Anglo-Saxon people, this ideal hero meant a hero that housed superhuman abilities, the bravery of a lion, a royal background, and glory beyond belief. From the time the reader meets Beowulf; he exhibits the Anglo-Saxon qualities of an epic hero that include superhuman abilities, above average bravery, and excessive glorification of his deeds.
When classifying a character such as Beowulf as an epic hero, evidence of superhuman abilities would be a necessary characteristic to identify. Beowulf exhibits these superhuman
…show more content…
The reader first sees Beowulf’s superhuman strength while he is fighting Grendel in Herot. The scene is described vividly in the text, “The monster’s hatred rose higher, / but his power had gone. He twisted in pain, / and the bleeding sinews deep in his shoulder/ snapped, muscle and bone split/ and broke” (337-341). In this instance, Beowulf rips Grendel’s arm from his body, but not just his arm; he rips the arm, the shoulder, and all. No human is capable of doing this to another human being, much less a monster that is probably multiple times their size. The next shining example of Beowulf’s superhuman abilities occurs while he is battling Grendel’s mother. On his way to battle Grendel’s mother, Beowulf walks “For hours he sank through waves“(452). This feat is yet another example of Beowulf’s superhuman abilities because the average human could not walk underwater for more than a few minutes, much less hours. The last major example of Beowulf’s superhuman abilities is presented just after Beowulf defeats Grendel’s mother. As Beowulf ascends from the depths of the lake, he is dragging a head behind him; the head of Grendel. To give the reader an idea of exactly how massive this head is, it is described, “Brave men/ staggering under the …show more content…
His willingness to sacrifice his life for his people is yet another characteristic of an epic hero. The first major example of Beowulf’s bravery is presented to the reader when he decides to fight Grendel with his bare hands saying, “I have heard, / too, that the monster’s scorn of men/ is so great that he needs no weapons and fears none. / Nor will I” (166-169). In this instance, Beowulf presents his bravery by stating that he refuses to fight Grendel with a weapon, simply because Grendel would not be using one. Beowulf knows that there is a possibility that he could get hurt, or even worse die, but his bravery and willingness to protect others overpowers those thoughts. This spirit of bravery is an attribute that one would most likely not expect from the average man, who would flee from this type of fight, or would refuse to go into this fight without a strong weapon. Perhaps the greatest example of Beowulf’s bravery was his willingness to descend to great depths to face a mother’s wrath alone. After accepting Hrothgar’s challenge to defeat Grendel’s mother, Beowulf goes to make well on his promise. Beowulf, without hesitation, “leaped into the lake, would not wait for anyone’s/ Answer; the heaving water covered him over” (450-452). Beowulf not only leaps into a place of immense danger, but he willingly does so

Related Documents

Related Topics