Beowulf 4 Essay, Research Paper
Back in the day of the Viking, how they viewed and thought of themselves, is in some ways different than how we view them today. Beowulf was one of many of these so-called Viking “heroes”, and even today people view Beowulf in different ways. Some people think that he was an Ideal Germanic hero; while others think he was a “Christ figure” ;yet still others thought of Beowulf as the human condition. I feel that if you read the story carefully you will find out that Beowulf was nothing more than a fallen flawed hero. Along with Beowulf’s actions, he showed nothing more than a self-centered “typical” Viking that thought of nothing more than killing anyone and anything he could to become immortal for his deeds through the poems and songs written about them. Beowulf was a flawed hero and showed it in many different ways with the way he acted and things he said. If you look beneath the surface of Beowulf to his character you will see that he only stood for himself and himself alone.
The first, and one of the biggest problems that Beowulf shows is boastfulness, even for a Viking. One example to show how boastful Beowulf was, is when he talked about the swimming contest with Brecca. It all started after Beowulf and his men arrived at the Meadhall, in the process of trying to get permission to fight Grendel, he was questioned on how he intended to fight a monster as strong as Grendel when he could not beat a human (Brecca), and was “outstayed” in swimming contest. Beowulf did not get upset at all, he just simply replied:
…A cruel ravager dragged me down to the sea bed, a fierce monster held me tightly in its grasp… but I escaped with my life from the enemies’ clutches, worn out by my venture…I have not heard tell that you have taken part in such contests, in the peril of sword-play….(478- 501)
In addition to Beowulf’s egotistical actions, he tries show a strong sense of power by ripping off Grendel’s arm, slowly Grendel could “feel his fingers cracking” and after Beowulf successfully tore it off, he put it over his head so that everyone could see, but this only further proves how self-indulged he is. Beowulf only does this action trying to justifiably prove to his fellow Vikings that he is the best there is because no one else had the physical or mental strength to do what he did, so he
Thought. A similar event occurred when Beowulf followed home and killed Dam Grendel with the invincible sword:
…He struck such a savage blow… the blade slashed through her neck…it severed her head from the fated body….(1257-1260)
Beowulf later brought back Gendel’s head as some sort of symbolic trophy. He gave the head Hrothgar as some kind of gift to try to show to everyone what a great warrior he is, but if he were a true great warrior he would not have to bring anything back to prove his greatness.
Besides Beowulf’s boastfulness and egotistical actions he was also very greedy, not just from the treasures he got with the victory of each battle but also from the strive to become immortal, whether it be by song or poem. Beowulf’s boastful and greedy ways had a lot to do with each other in the story because most of his actions were meant to benefit him in some way or another. For instance Beowulf’s greediness was his one and only motive for killing Grendel alone. Beowulf wanted to fight Grendel all by himself so that he alone would get all of the glory and for his great deed could become immortal by getting a song or poem written about him. The only reason why Beowulf even went to the Meadhall and offered to help Kill Grendel is because he knew that he would be handsomely rewarded for his duties:
…Hrothgar gave Beowulf Healfdene’s sword, and a banner, woven with gold, and a helmet and a corslet, as rewards for victory….(845-847)
The whole time he was at the Meadhall he was thinking of only himself and how he could become a greater warrior in everyone’s eyes. Finally another example that showed how greedy Beowulf real was, was his last request. Before Beowulf died after losing the fight he had with the dragon he had only one request for if he did not live:
…Now hurry, dear Wiglaf; rummage the hoard under the grey rock, for the dragon sleeps, riddled with wounds…be quick so that I may see the age-old golden treasure…once I have set eyes on such a store, it will be more easy for me to die….(1900-1908)
Therefore, if you have read the story closely you would be able to see that Beowulf was a fallen hero that brought everything upon himself. Almost all of Beowulf’s actions proves what a flawed hero he was, and how he thought of no one but himself. Beowulf was a fake, he tried to make everyone think he was this “wonderful person” that just wanted to help them get rid of Grendel and that was all:
…I shall crush the giant Grendel in single combat…I alone…will cleanse Heorot….(375-381)
Little did they know that he had his own reasons for the things he did. In the process of trying to achieve something all by himself and receive all of the glory for it, Beowulf ended up receiving death.