The Hero Of Beowulf: The King And Hero
In Beowulf by Seamus Heaney, Beowulf serves as a hero and a king. He proves himself a strong and brave hero, but as a king, it is debatable whether he is ideal. His predecessor, King Hrothgar, was a paragon king, he was generous, humble, wise, and was loved by the people. Beowulf is many of those things, and more, but he is not always humble which leads to faulty, stubborn decision making. In the end, this is a fatal flaw, and it causes the Danes and Geats a lot of trouble.
Beowulf’s character personifies what a hero is: strong, brave and good. In the beginning of the book, when Beowulf takes on the task of defeating Grendel, it is made clear that Beowulf is a special man, “There was no one else like him alive / …show more content…
Prior to being appointed the new ruler, Hrothgar enlightens Beowulf on what makes a good king. He says, “Do not give way to pride”, warning more times than just this once of the evils in pride (1760). Although Beowulf is a great king in many ways, it is clear he is prideful due to his boastfulness and attitude. His pride is merited, he has served the Geats and Danes well and proven that he truly is stronger than any other warrior, but hubris is still an unseemly trait for a king to have. He has become a celebrity, and in the people’s eyes he doesn’t have flaws, which creates a problem when he does have a fault. Even though, the people respect him, which is very important as a leader, it is likely, that they don’t know what’s best for themselves in terms of leadership; they could not predict what is to come because of Beowulf’s pride. “Boasts” from Beowulf like this one: “all knew of my awesome strength” (418) “I battled and bound five beasts, / raided a troll-nest and in the night-sea / slaughtered sea-brutes” (420-2), represent his prideful demeanor. Ultimately, his pride kills him. In his last battle against the dragon, “the prince of the rings was too proud / to line up with a large army” (2345-6). This passage refers to his desire for glory, even though he was old, he wanted to defeat the dragon by himself and would not allow his fellow soldiers to fight with him initially; causing his death. He did defeat the dragon with help from one brave soldier, Wiglaf, but it still cost him his life. If two soldiers could defeat the dragon, Beowulf and all of his soldiers probably could have defeated the dragon without casualties. Had Beowulf been capable of humbling himself just enough to fight with other men his life would have been spared and so would the fate of his country. Inevitably, everyone will one day reach the end, as