Meaning Of Heroism In Beowulf

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Dorothy L. Sayers once said, “Death seems to provide the minds of the Anglo-Saxon race with a greater fund of amusement than any other single subject”. The epic of Beowulf, translated by Seamus Heaney, describes one of the most well known heroisms from Anglo-Saxon literature—Beowulf’s heroic journey. In the poem, Beowulf fulfills his heroic journey by having three increasingly tough battles with Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the dragon respectively. Beowulf’s victory in these battles establishes him totally as a hero and validates his bravery and power, which proves that heroes are, firstly, defined by action and strength. However, not only is Beowulf showing his heroism by his power, he also perfectly conforms the Germanic heroic code from …show more content…
Gift-giving is reflected in the poem when “Halfdane’s son presented Beowulf/with a gold standard as a victory gift,/an embroidered banner; also breast-mail/and a helmet; and a sword carried high,/that was both precious object and token of honour”(Beowulf1019-1023). When Beowulf kills Grendel and Grendel’s mother for Danes, both Hrothgar and Hygelac gives Beowulf a large amount of treasure to honor the hero’s victory. In the poem, gift-giving can not only praise warriors’ triumphs, but also show the generosity of leadership. In the Anglo-Saxon culture, the king also calls treasure-giver or ring-giver, which means a good king needs to provide treasure in return for the support of his men. Among tribal communities, a generous king can attract more warriors and give warriors more incentives to win the battle with the foe. In contrast, a lord without generosity will lose the loyalty and power among his men ultimately. In Beowulf, Horthgar is considered as an esteemed king in Dan partly because he is pretty generous to praise his warriors’ triumphs and give people treasure. Consequently, the Anglo-Saxon leadership are supposed to emphasize the significance of gift-giving to show their generosity and praise warriors, which is a good way to improve his own reputation among …show more content…
In the poem, Beowulf proves his bravery and courage by facing each battle fearlessly, even though the foe is a brutal monster. “He had scant regard /for the dragon as a threat, no dread at all/ of its courage or strength, for he had kept going/ often in the past, through perils and ordeals /of every sort, after he had purged/ Hrothgar’s hall, triumphed in Heorot /and beaten Grendel”(Beowulf 2347-2353). This quote summarizes Beowulf’s bravery towards three main battles in his life. No matter how dangerous the monster is, Beowulf can fight with them without fear. In the wartime, bravery is the heart of comitatus which is a code values courage in battle above all. In Anglo-Saxon culture, every warrior is dreamed to display the heroic ideal and be famous for a courageous deed to show their bravery. In the poem, Beowulf’s courage in battle always comes from his amazing strength and confidence from his previous success, and he was brave until he died. Even though sometimes people think Beowulf’s bravery leads him to be over-proud, his courage to fight with monsters with bare hands need to be admired. That is because courage is the leading virtue for a warrior, even in modern society. Therefore, Beowulf’s courageous spirit in battle reflects the ideal of Anglo-Saxon lifestyle and echoes the Anglo-Saxon warrior

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