Beowulf Essay, Research Paper
Beowulf was considered by many people throughout the poem to be a distinguished, noble leader. After his famous battle with Grendel, he became known as a hero who helped a troubled, helpless king out. It isn’t until the end of the poem that we see any criticism about Beowulf at all. However, there are certain times in the poem where Beowulf does not seem to stand as a model of the heroic virtue. There are times where his intentions did not seem so heroic; instead, they seemed shallow, not filled with so much value or respect. Beowulf may have deserved more criticism than he actually received.
For many aspects of the word, it can be considered true that Beowulf was a hero. His first impression on people left them filled with awe and respect, solely by his appearance. His awesome strength and fighting ability left no doubt in anyone’s mind that he was no ordinary soldier. He was a man unlike any other. His determination was very visible. These are all the qualities of a hero that Beowulf did possess. However, there are other characteristics of Beowulf that overlook these heroic qualities and give another perspective on Beowulf.
There are two instances where he states clearly that he will die fighting or come out alive. However, a statement like that can be taken two different ways. If it is not taken as a declaration made by only a hero, it can be taken as something said by a soldier too proud to walk away from a fight the loser. Beowulf would rather die than be a known as someone who was defeated. He wanted to be known as the best of the best. He did not want to live letting it be known that there was another person or being who was better than he was.
Beowulf’s greatest incentive to even begin to fight any battle was for the fame that he would receive coming out of it alive. He was always very concerned that his own name, the name of his people, and the name of his king would be known far and wide. He wanted to be recognized for his awesome strength and fighting ability. Besides the fact that Beowulf owed Hrothgar a fight because of his father, Beowulf’s main motivation to help Hrothgar was not completely because he was a kind, thoughtful person. It may be true that Beowulf did want to help Hrothgar win back his hall and power because he truly felt bad for this poor, powerless king. However, the main reason that Beowulf wanted to fight in a battle with the man-eating monster, Grendel, was to show that he was really a man among all men. There had been generations of Hrothgar’s men who had been killed because they could not defeat this monster. If Beowulf could beat him, then he could prove that he was a better soldier and fighter than all of the men who had tried before him to help Hrothgar.
When Beowulf fought his final opponent, he did not give much thought to the people and the kingdom that he would be leaving behind. He did not think of the consequences that his actions would have. And Beowulf did sense that his death was coming. In his speech to his thanes, he set the tone that said he knew what he was up against; that he was old and this would be a hard battle to win. He seemed to give enough thought into the battle that he was armed with the proper war-gear and that he had thanes with him to help him if the need arose. He thought about the riches and the treasure that he was risking his life for. However, he did not think much about the people that lived under his ruling.
If he was truly a heroic king, he would have realized that the best way for him to win this battle, would be to send more able soldiers to fight and to make sure that his well being was kept safe. This way, he would be able to continue to rule the Geat people strongly for many more years. He did not have to enter into the battle. There were men who would have been willing to fight in his place. However, Beowulf still wanted to prove that he was able to fight in battles as he once had. He wanted to show his people that he was a king who had worked for the name and fame that he now held. The fact that Beowulf wanted to fight against the dragon himself shows that this last fight was more selfish and greedy than it was noble and honorable.