The poem Beowulf describes his continued quest for glory; with a moral directed at young adults and teens warning them of the emptiness caused by putting their career before family and friends. During his life he made a singular commitment not to have a family in order that he may prevail when challenged in combat. He gave no thought to being married and baring heirs, in lieu of living a solitary life. His military training taught him to travel at his master’s orders, living with other men, and placing God above himself. He learned to recognize and respect rank and his position among the soldiers. Over the course of time, he rose through the ranks from being a commander in the fighting unit, to eventually becoming king. Beowulf is related to Hygelac and Ecgtheow during his various adventures he battles with monsters; Grendel and his mother, including the black dragon later in his journey.
The author explicitly describes and demonstrates Beowulf’s courage by not hesitating, not showing fear, and being smart in tactics and strategy. Confident in his abilities, Beowulf is able to successfully defeat the mortal enemies, Grendel and Grendel’s mother. During Beowulf’s journey, he accepts any challenge. “We are retainers from Hygelac’s band. Beowulf is my name. I am ready and willing to report my errand” (I. 342-345).
This demonstrates that Beowulf is ready for anything and anyone, striking down any and all of his enemies. Not only is Beowulf honorable and well respected by the Danes, but he is also brave, he battles bare-handed with nothing but the skin of his back. His courage is displayed in his actions, not hesitating to risk his own life to pursue his employer’s enemies. When the land was threatened by a dragon burning villages to the ground, Beowulf plans to pursue the dragon, the epic poem states, “I’ve never known fear, as a youth I fought in endless battles.
I am old now, but I will fight again, seek fame still, if the dragon hiding in his tower dares to face me” (I. 2511-2515). In this passage, Beowulf feels no fear, confident in fighting the dragon alone, and has no qualms in risking his life to save others. He declares his bravery by saying “When he comes to me I mean to stand, not run from his shooting flames, stand till fate decides which of us wins…No one else could do what I mean to, here, no man but me could hope to defeat this monster” (l. 2525-2534). Beowulf is demonstrating the will to never back down from a fight, staying strong in the face of danger, and fighting till the last one standing. Beowulf is victorious in all of his battles; however, in doing this he lives in isolation; never marries and has no close friends.
Grendel is impatient in battle and attacks without a plan or strategy. Beowulf meets Grendel in combat and kills him. Unlike her son, Grendel’s mother uses ambush when attacking the Danes. She attacks at night and takes one of Hrothgar’s men as a prisoner, forcing Beowulf to come to her lair in order to rescue the soldier. Beowulf displays no fear in entering the cave, nor does he exude any hesitation in his actions. He allows his actions to speak for him and him alone. Grendel’s mother attacks out of revenge for her fallen son but ends up failing as Beowulf succeeds in slaying her.
Comparing the epic poem to the animated film version, Beowulf’s mission is viewed differently. In the poem, the battle with Grendel was explicit, using literary devices to creating vivid imagery, bringing the story to life in the mind of the reader. The movie underplays the battle washing out the vivid details described in the poem, seems that the overall battle between man and monster was less engaging. In the poem, the battle between Beowulf and Grendel’s mother was an actual combat, resulting in Beowulf prevailing victoriously killing her, whereas in the movie the fight never occurs. The movie further implies that Beowulf had an affair with Grendel’s mother and the dragon, appearing later in the story, was the offspring of that affair. During the movie, Beowulf received dreams about a man that was golden and appeared to call him father.
Beowulf had a foreboding that the next threat to Heorot was of his bloodline. In the poem, however, he had no inkling that the dragon was his son or of any relation to him. The dragon just appeared and started terrorizing the town, luring Beowulf out to fight.
In conclusion, Beowulf’s bravery is explicitly displayed throughout the poem. A final example of heroic qualities displayed by Beowulf and his own human power. The mental and physical strength that s required of a hero. No Dane, before Beowulf’s arrival, was able to defeat the monsters, much less Grendel himself.
Throughout the poem, Beowulf’s actions display confidence, anger, sadness, pride, bravery, and love for those he’s sworn to protect. In his quest, he gains wisdom and a selflessness to protect people even at his own peril. Beowulf is an inspirational poem that helps the reader understand that pride is good when applied properly and tempered with humility. but that isn’t what makes them better. The poem inspires consideration for others and a selfless regard to defend the innocent and helpless and the consequence of ignoring the call.
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