Beowulf Essay, Research Paper
The story of Beowulf is one of courage, nobility, and heroism. Beowulf possesses each of these attributes both as a young prince and an elder king. These qualities allow him to become the honored king that he was, yet they also lead to his death. His actions are to be viewed as a precedent for young princes and future kings.
Clearly every young prince inspires to earn enough respect to become king in their latter years. Beowulf first earns this respect when he sails to Herot to kill Grendel, the monster that has been keeping the soldiers out of their home. Upon arrival in Herot, Beowulf brags of his past accomplishments, in order to earn some respect from Hrothgar and his men.
In my youth I have set about many brave deeds?I had bound five, destroyed a family of giants, and at night in the waves slain water-monsters, suffered great pain, avenged an affliction of the Weater-Geats on those who had asked for trouble- ground enemies to bits. And now alone I shall settle affairs with Grendel, the monster, the demon. (Page 32)
While this beast has killed many of Hrothgar?s men, Beowulf vows to destroy him with his bare hands.
Even after doing as he so promised, Beowulf has still not finished his duties. The following day, he is faced with another challenge; killing Grendel?s angry mother. When Beowulf is asked to perform this task, he accepts whole heatedly , as he sees it as another chance to gain fame, “Let him who may get glory before death: that is best for the warrior after he has gone from life.”(page 45) Once again, Beowulf returns successful in his battle with the monster, only to increase his popularity within his people.
These courageous and heroic deeds are expected of any young or aging prince. Clearly Beowulf?s brave encounters with these monsters show his king and followers that he is worthy of becoming a fearless leader. However, his ability to rule goes beyond those feats in battle. Beowulf was showered with gifts of gold and riches for his tremendous achievements of killing the monsters. This is where his manner is shown to be one of strong moral. While he could have easily kept them all for himself, Beowulf gives his rewards to his king, Higlac; as he was instructed to do. In addition, Beowulf declined his first offering at the throne. His sense of morality and loyalty to Higlac tells him that it is only right for Higlac?s son to take the throne before himself. These decent acts should be wisely followed by a young prince.
When Beowulf accepts the role of King of the Geats, he does not change as a person or as a warrior. Once again, a monster is brought to the attention of Beowulf, this time in his own land. Even in his old age, Beowulf vows to fight this dragon on his own. Yet this battle was not to be fought for his own fame, yet for the safety of his people. Beowulf attacks the dragon as he had done so many times in the past, in hope of a victory. However, he quickly learns that his strength and armor are no match for the fire breathing dragon. As the fight comes to a close, Beowulf lies dying on the ground, with all but one man left to his aid.
Although the dragon was defeated, the Geats lost their honorable king. He died doing what any good leader would, defending his land and people. Beowulf?s mistake was to let his ego take over, as he tried to take on the dragon alone. This is especially notable for a young prince to follow. While it is necessary to be brave and courageous, a prince of king must know his own limitations in order to succeed.