Heroism in Beowulf
Uploaded by PeachiKiwi on Apr 21, 2001
There are many traits that are possessed by those who seek heroism. Whether it is in real life or in fiction, every hero desires these character traits in the past, present, and future. IN my opinion, the two traits that are most prominent in the poem Beowulf are bravery and goodness.
In this poem, Beowulf exhibits the trait of bravery by defeating the monster, Grendel. This monster was a very powerful monster that plagued the town of Herot. “He slipped through the door… Snatched up thirty men, smashed them/ Unknowing in their beds and ran out with their bodies/ The blood dripping behind him, back/ To his liar, delighted with his night’s slaughter. (11)”
The society that he terrorized was happy and always rejoicing. “As now warriors sang of their pleasure/ So Hrothgar’s men lived happily in this hall… (11)”
Bravery today has changed from that of Anglo-Saxon times. In the poem, Beowulf uses his bare hands to defeat the evil, monstrous Grendel. He believes that it would be braver and mightier if he were to defeat Grendel without use of a weapon. “My lord Higlac/ Might thing less of me if I let my sword/ Go where my feet were afraid to, if I hid/ Behind some broad linen shield: my hands/ Alone shall fight for me, struggle for life/ Against the monster (15).” However, in modern times, bravery is associated and accompanied by weaponry.
In the movie “Jaws”, which is a 20th century film, the preying shark terrorizes the beaches of New England. After he is finally trapped, he is killed- but not in the same fashion as Grendel was. The shark was shot in the mouth and then blew up to do a CO2 tank he had swallowed. The way in which each antagonist was killed was in two very different ways: with and without weaponry, respectively.
These two scenarios from Anglo-Saxon and modern times are similar, as well. They are similar because of the continuity of “monsters” terrorizing a society being a great influence among audiences of the past and present. The two works of both eras demonstrate the continual interest in defeating villains and “feeding” it’s listeners with tales such as these.
Bravery is not the only trait in which a hero possesses. A hero needs and has more than one heroic quality, just like no flower is complete without its vibrant colors and sweet smell. Goodness can be compared...