What Does It Take to Be a Hero
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The poem, Beowulf, by Seamus Heaney, depicts Beowulf as a perfect hero. Beowulf is the mythical son of Edgetho and later becomes the king of the Geats. In the poem, Beowulfs shows heroism in two different phases of his life, youth and old age. Throughout the poem, Beowulf faces three difficult conflicts with Grendel, Grendels mother, and the dragon. Throughout the novel Beowulf is a noted and respected warrior from Geatland.
During Beowulfs youth, he is considered to be a great warrior, portrayed by his strength, courage, and bravery. Beowulf begins his legacy in Denmark with an evil monster, Grendel. Grendel is ruining King Hrothgars kingdom and is ritually tormenting him. The monster breaks into the castle and eats as many of Hrothgars men as he can hold each night. King Hrothgar calls Beowulf for help because the king has tried everything else. Beowulf arrives with a ship of his warriors to help King Hrothgar in stopping Grendel. King Hrothgar accepts Beowulfs pledge to kill Grendel. Beowulf pledges to face Grendel with, “no weapons, therefore, for either this night; unarmed he shall face me if face me he dares” (47). When Beowulf meets Grendel he fights barehanded and rips his arm off. Beowulf comes back with Grendels arm. It is hung in the battle hall as a trophy of Beowulfs bravery, courage, and victory over the monster. Beowulfs defeat of Grendel certifies his reputation for bravery and establishes him as a full hero.
Even though Grendel is dead, the danger has not passed. Grendels mother comes to King Hrothgars battle hall. She retrieves, “their trophy, Grendels bloodied hand” (91). Hrothgar is very disappointed and calls on the hero, Beowulf, once again. Beowulf travels with his men to the fiery lake where Grendels mother lives. Beowulf fights Grendels mother, however, she is unable to harm Beowulf because he has his armor on. He kills Grendels mother by cutting of her head. When the fight is over Beowulf swims back to through the lake to his men. The men rejoice with Beowulf and they all go back to Hrothgars battle hall. When they arrived back Beowulf shows, “Grendels headdragged across the floor…. They stared in awe. It was an astonishing sight” (113). Hrothgar rewards Beowulf with gold and important advice about being a king. Beowulfs defeat of Grendel and Grendels mother certifies his reputation for bravery and establishes him as a full hero.
When Beowulf returns to Geatland the narrator focuses on the very end of his life. In Beowulfs later years he is crowned King of Geatland, and considers himself