The Characteristics Of Beowulf As An Epic Hero

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“Keenest to win fame”: Beowulf’s epic life
The Anglo-Saxon culture, a culture known for placing the needs of others before oneself, became prevalent at the beginning of the fifth century. The Anglo-Saxon people showed loyalty to their king even if they did not believe in his cause. In the epic poem Beowulf, the protagonist parallels the Anglo-Saxon’s culture with his loyalty to King Hrothgar. Beowulf’s courage to willingly go fight for another country shows that he has not only courage, but strength, leadership, and bravery. Beowulf exemplifies hero-like qualities by obeying his king and fighting for fame. In Seamus Heaney 's translation of Beowulf, Beowulf defines the qualities of an epic hero through his bravery, leadership, and strength;
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Martin Puhvel, a lecturer at McGill University and a Literature researcher of Estonian origin, highlights Beowulf’s strengths, “The fantastic swimming prowess of Beowulf may well stand out as one of the most amazing abilities of a hero endowed with seemingly supernatural powers” (276). Puhvel believes that Beowulf’s supernatural abilities and strength prove his appearance as a hero. Not only do his strengths classify him as a hero but his ability to put others safety before himself define him as an epic hero. Beowulf gives his proclamation on how he will defeat Grendel, “hand-to-hand is how it will be, a life-and-death fight with the fiend” (31.438-440). Beowulf has enough confidence to fight Grendel without a weapon, which displays his great strength and capabilities. To the Anglo-Saxon people, Beowulf appears to be a symbol of strength and protection; likewise, Beowulf’s people see him as their hero. Although his supernatural strengths and close following of the heroic code defines him as an epic hero, people sought out to dishonor his name. Unferth has brought up Beowulf’s bet with Brecca to try and defame him in front of King Hrothgar. Beowulf dispels Unferth’s condemnation of his strengths, “The truth is this: when the going was heavy in those high waves, I was the strongest swimmer of all” (37.532-534). Unferth attempts to discredit Beowulf to damage his appearance as an epic hero; however, Beowulf instantly disproves Unferth in order to clear his name because he longs for a noble and honest reputation. His reputation had a great importance to him because if it did not portray him as the strongest, his people would not see him as the great hero he appeared to the people. Even in the toughest of conditions, Beowulf still comes out as the victor and the strongest of them all, which proves to his people

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