Why Beowulf Is Not A Hero Essay (2023)

Beowulf is not a hero. He is actually quite the opposite. First and foremost, Beowulf is known for being extremely arrogant. For example, he boasts about his accomplishments and how he is the strongest and bravest man alive. This type of behavior is not consistent with that of a hero. A true hero would be humble and modest, not boastful and full of themselves.

Additionally, Beowulf is often motivated by greed and self-interest. For instance, he agrees to fight Grendel only after learning that there is a great reward waiting for him if he wins. And when Grendel’s mother appears, Beowulf goes after her not out of concern for others, but rather for the treasure she is rumored to possess. Clearly, Beowulf is not motivated by the best interests of others, which again is not consistent with heroism.

Lastly, Beowulf often resorts to violence and brutality in order to achieve his goals. For example, he kills Grendel’s mother by tearing her head off with his bare hands. He also kills a dragon by cutting off its head. Violence and bloodshed are not hallmarks of heroism.

Beowulf is not a hero for one primary reason. His actions are motivated by conceit and self-aggrandizement rather than the desire to assist others. This becomes clear as we look at Beowulf’s major three fights, as well as their associated events. The conflict between Grendel and Beowulf reveals that while Beowulf fought Grendel with his bare hands, his followers watched him fight Grendel one-on-one.

(Video) Beowulf: Analysis of a Hero

Beowulf says ” I, Beowulf, am willing to fight this monster here and now with my bare hands. If I win, let all the people of Geatland know that I did it. Let them call me a hero.” Beowulf is not fighting for the people of Geatland but for his own glory. He knew he could kill Grendel with his bare hands which gives him even more glory.

Beowulfs second battle, against the dragon, is also motivated by Beowulfs desire for glory. After Beowulf killed the dragon, he says ” So I have fulfilled my boast. I have killed the dragon and avenged the people of Hrothgar” Beowulf was not fighting for the people of Hrothgar but for his own glory.

Beowulfs third battle, against the sea beast, is also motivated by Beowulfs desire for glory. After Beowulf killed the sea beast, he says ” I have now fulfilled my boast. I have killed the sea beast and avenged the people of Denmark” Beowulf was not fighting for the people of Denmark but for his own glory.

In order to rise beyond the competition, they needed to revive the narrative. However, in line with the old version of Beowulf, Grendel had been slain by a taro and was then brought back through dark magic. The new narrative is more contemporary. In addition, he will be remembered as having won glory for his country while sacrificing friends and loved ones along the way.

(Video) What are important characteristics within Beowulf that make Beowulf an epic hero?

Beowulf is a great warrior and did many heroic deeds but because of his need for recognition and glory he is not a hero. Heroes are more concerned with helping people and doing the right thing than they are with personal gain. Beowulf is not a hero because of his actions in defeating Grendel.

Why would he take Grendel’s head as a symbol of his great might, when the battle was entirely unnecessary? Given Grendel mother had her vengeance and may not have returned to the mead hall, this fight didn’t even need to happen. Because it gave him another opportunity to be renowned, but not for the better good. In Beowulf’s last battle with the dragon, his behavior comes to an end. This is after the dragon has stopped attacking and is likely to do so no more.

Beowulf is greedy for the treasure and stabs the dragon in a vulnerable spot. This was not a fight to the death but Beowulf killed the dragon for no reason. So, Beowulf is not a hero because he is motivated by personal gain instead of what is best for others.

When most people think of a hero, they think of someone who puts others before themselves and does what is right, even if it is difficult. Beowulf, the main character in the epic poem Beowulf, does not fit this description. While Beowulf does perform some heroic deeds, such as defeating Grendel and his mother, he also commits several acts that are not heroic.

(Video) Beowulf Hero Lesson

Beowulf does not have to go after the dragon, but he does so anyhow, ignoring Hrothgar’s caution about watching for pride and age. So for the primary reason of pride and glory, Beowulf goes after the dragon in an insane way. Beowulf gathers eleven thanes who are not supposed to assist him in battle and even suggests that he would have fought the dragon with his bare hands except it breathes fire rather than having a whole army dispatch it with himself leading.

Beowulf, again for pride, goes out in front of the dragon and gets his abdomen sliced open. So Beowulf isnt a hero because of his extreme pride which leads to many deaths including his own.

Beowulf is not a hero because of his extreme pride which leads to many deaths including his own. Beowulf goes after the dragon even though he doesnt need to, and ignores Hrothgars warning of watching for old age and pride. He brings eleven thanes who arent even supposed to help in the battle, and suggests he would have fought the dragon with his bare hands if he hadnt breathed fire. Beowulf goes out in front of the dragon and gets his abdomen sliced open, dying in the process. His extreme pride was his downfall, costing him his life as well as the lives of many others.

The conflict between Beowulf and the dragon proceeds, and they eventually kill each other. Now that their great leader has died, the Weders are doomed. These three situations represent a recurring theme. As time goes on, Beowulf’s actions become less beneficial until they finally have an adverse effect. His desire for glory and pride is what causes his downfall over time. This is why Beowulf isn’t a hero but a gloater.

(Video) The Heroic Ideal in Beowulf

Beowulf is not a hero because he is motivated by his own interests instead of helping others. Beowulf’s first deed as a young warrior was to help Hrothgar rid his mead hall of Grendel, a vicious monster. Beowulf did this purely out of the goodness of his heart and not for any reward. However, over time Beowulf’s deeds become less and less selfless.

For example, Beowulf kills the dragon not to protect his people but in order to claim the treasure that the dragon was guarding. Beowulf’s final deed is also motivated by personal gain rather than helping others. He kills himself in order to go to Valhalla, where he believes he will receive glory. Beowulf’s actions throughout his life show that he is not motivated by helping others but by satisfying his own desires.

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Why is Beowulf not a true hero? ›

A true hero is gone as he won his victory of the treasure one last time. Beowulf the brave and mighty hero fought his many of fights against the enemy. He won many of them, but the last one just was not enough for his age.

Is Beowulf a hero Why or why not essay? ›

Beowulf shows ability and bravery, lasting fame, and caring out his royal duties; all these personality traits show that Beowulf is an epic hero. By slaughtering Grendel and the Dragon, Beowulf demonstrated ability and bravery to his people by demonstrating his force of will and survival.

Is Beowulf a successful hero or a failed hero Why or why not? ›

Beowulf is considered an epic hero because his bravery has won many battles. This bravery also makes him a tragic hero because he is a great man with the tragic flaw of pride, which leads to his death.

In what ways was Beowulf really selfish instead of heroic? ›

The Selfish Hero In the Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf, the stupendous hero's many great deeds often appear to be for other's benefit, yet Beowulf's final conquest exposes his lust for glory and fame, thereby showing his lack of concern for anything else.

What are the bad traits of Beowulf? ›

He has few character flaws, but his biggest and fatal flaw is his hubris. The extreme self-pride and arrogance led him to fight monsters with his bare hands and even take on a dragon in his old age, when he was no longer able to win such battles. This flaw doesn't diminish Beowulf's status as an epic hero.

Why is Beowulf not a good leader? ›

He ensures that his warriors trust in him enough to believe that they may be able to achieve a definite goal together. Beowulf, however, does allow his pride to obscure his vision of the future, therefore he does not possess all the necessary skills a leader should have.


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