The Heroic Analysis of Beowulf
The Heroic Analysis of Beowulf The term hero has been a source of desire since the beginning of our written history. So much so that the first piece of literature recorded in the english language was that of a hero. Beowulf is a prince who bests numerous creatures for fame and glory and saves countless people from destruction with his supernatural prowess. Beowulf was created to be a living example of what the Ancient Anglo Saxons had determined to be heroic and honorable.
Today we have countless heroes who we look at in wonder and admire because of who they are and what they do with what they are born with.
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And although time has changed and the ideals of a hero have changed with it, heroes still reflect what society embodies as good and evil through those like beowulf and superman through their similarities yet show how it has changed through their differences. The ideals of the ancient Anglo Saxon society can be reflected through the hero beowulfs actions and abilities as he fights evil for fame and glory. A prominent trait hat Beowulf expresses through most all of the story is his ability to brag and boast.
Everywhere he goes he arrogantly tells of how “Higlac is [his] cousin and [his] king; the days of [his] youth have been filled with glory'(47). He is bragging of his noble descent as if it somehow makes him a better person.
He thinks highly of himself not just for his feats but because of the fact that he is a noble. When speaking with Hrothgar he goes on to explain the reason he has come is because his wise men decided he was fit to kill Grendel for “They have seen [his] strength for themselves ave watched [him] rise from the darkness of war, dripping with [his] enemies blood. he] drove five great giants into chains, chase all of that race from the earth”(47). He boasts at defeating mighty foes and surviving war but he turns barbaric and cruel by how he is proud of being bathed in blood and killing off an entire race of giants. His idea of heroism is more of a sport to earn fame than it is to really protect people.
He doesn’t truly care for the well being of anyone so long as he gains fame. When Grendel entered Herot “Human eyes [watched] his evil steps, waiting to see his swift ard claws.
Grendel snatched at the first Geat he came to, ripped him apart, cut his body to bits with powerful Jaws”(51). Beowulf sat by as his men were slaughtered and devoured when he could have tried to save them. He cared nothing about their safety because he was only focused on trying to surprise Grendel. And even after all that has happened and all the people that are killed by Grendel’s Mother, Beowulf has to be pleaded by the king “Save us, once more, and again twisted gold, heaped up ancient treasure, will reward you for the battle you win”(56).
Beowulf has to be bribed ith gold and treasure to kill the monster because he won’t do it out of the kindness in his heart. He nas saved Herot once and nas earned his tame ut b this is not enough for him so he has to be bribed. The modern ideals of today’s society can be exemplified through numerous heroes, including superman, who live simple or average lives while secretly protecting the planet from danger. Superman was raised in a simple country home where he learned the ideals of being a kind man. He does not boast or brag of his prowess, so much so that he creates a secret identity to hide the fact that he is uperman.
He knows he has strength and power but he is taught to use it for good and for the protection of others.
He doesn’t raise a hand against those that mean to do good and protects those that cannot protect themselves. He takes the weight of the world upon himself because he wishes to help others, not for fame or fortune and he does this with his superhuman powers. He can fly, shoot lasers from his eyes, and has x-ray vision. Everything he does is done because he believes that he is the only one who can protect humanity and even in the face of death he continues to do o, even if it costs him his life.
Both men are excellent examples of how society embodies its ideals of a hero and they even share many similar characteristics which shows that the properties of a hero havent changed that much through history. Both Beowulf and Superman are heroes with super strength.
Even when Beowulf enters the lake to fight Grendel’s Mother he remained under for hours without needing air. And while superman is the strongest man in the universe, Beowulf is described as “greater and stronger than anyone anywhere in this world”(46).
They both are heroes because they both risk their lives to protect people, no matter the reasons, and they both fght nearly indestructible monsters that would bring death to humanity. Superman fights off armies of invading monsters and Beowulf fghts Grendel whose skin could not be scratched by “the sharpest and hardest iron”(52). They both prove themselves heroes through their actions and both show what society determines to be honorable and above the normal. The story of Beowulf is a lasting example of what the Ancient Anglo Saxon society once embodied as a hero.
He was strong, good looking, of noble descent, and bold. It tells what the members of the society had wished to strive for. Today we have a new kind of hero, one who puts others before themselves because it is the right thing to do and stand up for what they believe in no matter the cost. This is what the people of today look up to and admire in their heroes. So even though the time between beowulf and superman is great, they both show us what it means to be good and heroic so that we too can try to embody what society has determined to be the true nature of a hero.