Today, the word "epic" is widely used to describe literature, movies, TV shows and more. It is used to relate to specific deeds or adventures of a legendary figure in any situation; either in a story, poem, or scene. It is used as an adjective to mean heroic or something impressively great. Beowulf is described as an epic poem because he became a magnificent hero. He is considered a brave warrior particularly in his responsibility of defending his people and kingdom as well as his strength in the battle. In this paper, I will focus on the theme of heroism.
Beowulf is an epic figure in his poem and this makes him fit to be considered a hero. The poem employs the theme heroism to show Beowulf's network of social responsibility. The king is forced to be a generous person and for this reason, he is known as a giver, particularly when he rewards Beowulf and other great fighters. Beowulf is a brave warrior who becomes a brilliant hero because of his strength in the battle. He portrays his bravery skills when he conquers Grendel's mother who is known as the Troll wife (Rollin 438). Also, Beowulf demonstrates the bravery skills when he engages in a battle with a dragon. When he was fighting with the dragon, he gave up his own life in that he was not sure whether he will make it; these traits show that he is a great conqueror and hero who was responsible for his duties.
The other aspect that shows Beowulf's heroism is made king upon Hrothgar's death (Harris 164). He did not assume his roles and responsibility; he realized that his main goal is to rule and protect people in the kingdom. He battles with a dragon to defend his people from a fiery death. Beowulf is ready to protect his people from any kind of attack. For instance, Beowulf says "I must carry out my royal duties" (Rollin 437). He is a king who means his words or rather what he says. He repays Hygelac a land because he had given his a sword, which served him well during the battle. Beowulf understands that the best thing he can do to repay his people is slaughtering a dragon that was a danger to the people. Indeed, he fulfills his duties including slaughtering the dragon as well as Grendel, the Troll Wife (Rollin 438).
With the many reputations and deeds Beowulf did, he receives superior tribute when he dies. At the ending of the heroic poem, the people are sad and they continue promising that his kingdom will always remember him (Harris 159). For this reason, the entire trait shows the characteristics of an epic hero. His lasting fame, bravery, responsibility, and caring about his royal duties. By slaughtering the dragon and Grendel shows how he was dedicated to protecting his kingdom despite the risks that he was putting his life; he knew that the ending might result in his death. However, he did not give up and as such Beowulf is an epic hero.
In conclusion, an epic hero is always larger than life. There can be little doubt but Beowulf was an epic hero during his time. In literature, English epics can speak to them and their condition, but sometimes they aspire and seldom achieve their purpose. Beowulf's life conveys less conception of the poem than the case of epic.
Harris, Joseph. "Beowulf as epic." (2000). https://mospace.umsystem.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/10355/64801/OralTradition15-1-harris.pdf?sequence=1
Rollin, Roger B. "Beowulf to Batman: The epic hero and pop culture." College English 31.5 (1970): 431-449. http://jerrywbrown.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Beowulf-to-Batman.pdf
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