Was Beowulf a Good Leader?

Real leadership is leaders recognizing that they serve the people they lead. This quote by Pete Hoekstra, a Dutch-American politician, perfectly describes the character of Beowulf. Beowulf is a good leader because he shows bravery, honor, and loyalty to his people in spite of the dangers he faces throughout the poem. In the story, Beowulf knew that his people needed a leader and that he was the only one who could save them.

Leadership in Beowulf

To be labeled a good leader, a person must exhibit bravery. At the beginning of the poem, Beowulf and fourteen of his men sailed to Denmark to rid the kingdom of an evil monster named Grendel, a descendant from Cain. Beowulf had heard many stories about how Grendel killed all of King Hrothgars men. Beowulf travels to Denmark because he wants to fight Grendel to test his bravery and to save the kingdom. He knew that he would be the only one in the land with enough courage to battle the enemy. After killing Grendel in the mead hall, Beowulf was honored by hundreds of people in the kingdom for being their brave hero. Beowulf was able to be victorious over Grendel because he did not let his fear of failure stop him from saving the lives of many people (Leadership in Literature).

Another quality of a good leader is someone who is honorable. An honorable person is someone who is noble, trustworthy, and ethical. Before leaving for his fight with Grendel, Beowulf throws away his sword and armor so the fight would be fair, since Grendel has no idea of the arts of war, / or shield or swordplay (681-682).

Beowulf states that he would find no satisfaction in beating Grendel unless the fight was completely fair, which meant he would have to fight the monster bare-handed. Beowulf shows his true character in this scene of the poem because only the most honorable of men would risk his life so that no person had the greater advantage over the other. Grendel, on the other hand, shows his moral inferiority once he attacks Beowulf and his men in their sleep. Beowulfs honorable heart is rewarded at the end of this battle by being able to defeat his unworthy foe (Brave New World).

Loyalty is one of the most paramount qualities of a great leader. A good leader must be trustworthy, leaving his/her people without a hint of doubt that they will not be let down. After the tragic death of the young King Heardred, the kingdom was in dire need of a new leader. This was when Beowulf steps in. Not only does Beowulf rule the Geats, but he did so for over fifty years. During his time as king, Beowulf fought in two more treacherous battles, allied with the Danes, and brought the kingdom significant amount of riches. Beowulf was a devoted leader to his people and showed his loyalty to them by his courageous heart and wise mind. The Danes not only praised Beowulf for being a fearless warrior but also for being the loyal ruler they needed so gravely for their kingdoms sake (Brave New World).

A leader is someone who serves the people they lead. Beowulf recognized the desperate need for a leader and he knew he was the only one suited for the task at hand. Beowulf makes a good leader because he exhibits great amounts of bravery, honor, and loyalty to his people. Beowulf selflessly risked his life multiple times for the sake of the Geats. Beowulfs exceptional leadership qualities of bravery, honor, and loyalty will be remembered by readers for years and years to come.  

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