Representation of The Themes of Honor and Heroism in Beowulf 

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1188 |

Pages: 3|

6 min read

Published: Dec 16, 2021

Words: 1188|Pages: 3|6 min read

Published: Dec 16, 2021

When we read fiction, it takes us to a place that we can only make up in our heads. However, these same stories teach us valuable lessons. Usually these lessons are ones we may not pick up usually in everyday life. These kinds of values are ethical values and we see that displayed in Beowulf. Beowulf, an old Anglo-Saxon poem is about a warrior who battles and defeats three terrifying monsters. This poem is an epic. Beowulf has many stories to back up his many abilities. He earns respect because of his adventures. As you read, we encounter many situations with him as he is challenged. He is put to the test and proves his strength each time. He in turn became the king. His also earns a kingdom that believes in all his strength. This essay will explore how the narrator constructs themes such as being a hero and having honor with the use of literary devices: alliteration and imagery.

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Not only is Beowulf extremely determined, but he is also a true hero. He is noble, honest and highly trained with several skills. His deeds serve as a symbol of his strength. Beowulf has three major encounters throughout the poem which illustrate his grit. When Beowulf arrives Heorot, Unfearth approaches Beowulf and questions the race. The conversation continued to him saying that whatever he had accomplished before didn’t mean anything because he would not be able to defeat Grendel. He said this because many great warriors before him tried and he wasn’t different from any of them. He plans to be a match Grendel so that he could be the one to bring peace back to Heorot. “The news of Grendel, hard to ignore, reached me at home: sailors brought stories of the plight you suffer in this legendary hall, how it lies deserted, empty and useless once the evening light hides itself under heavens dome. Now I mean to be a match for Grendel, settle the outcome in single combat.” He explains how he isn’t afraid of death. This empowers him during his conquests. It allowed him to be able to defeat Grendel. This proved very worthy to the king. He decided to take this mission because he wants to prove to everyone, he is like no other warrior before him. Although the negativity, Beowulf has trust in his skills. Beowulf’s reason for the fight is to get revenge for what Grendel did to the Danes. Grendel terrorized the Danes for a total of twelve years. Beowulf was very selfless and was always willing to go to battle to defend innocent people. He was able to defeat Grendel as he stormed the castle. He swiped his sword leaving Grendel wounded and with one arm. He later died as he got to his cave. Beowulf demonstrated heroic attributes during the entire poem with his courageous actions. After Grendel died, his mother became enraged. His mother decided to wreak havoc on the city because Beowulf has killed her son. Grendel’s mother wants to avenge the death of her son. In return she attacks Herot and kills one of the advisors. Beowulf is then motivated to kill Grendel’s mother to avenge the death of the killed advisor. He began to pursue her. As he got close, the mother attacked him. She was closed to killing him, when he got the upper hand. After that he tried to slice her, but it didn’t work. He then found a sword that was able to cut her and defeat her. This also was for the glory of being the one who brings peace to Herot. That reason backed his actions for killing Grendel as well. However, his final fight was more personal. He felt as though he had to defeat the dragon because he had to continue to prove his resilience as a king. He decided he didn’t need an army because of his many accomplishments. He told his subjects to wait for him close by the fight so that once again he can prove to them that he is capable of any battle. “for the first time, fate did not make Beowulf the winner in battle.' Even though he was prepared, he was able to defeat this last monster. The dragon killed Beowulf in the fight. However, he was praised after his death “No better king had ever lived, no prince so mild, no man so open to his people, so deserving of praise.” This description of his heroic actions he displayed proves how he was celebrated. He was grateful to his people. He became a true leader for them. This also proved his worth to even have the throne. After numerous times of proving himself he was able to obtain the respect he fought hard.

Alliteration and imagery helped build Beowulf courageous character. These literary devices are important in the anglo saxon poetry. This creates a need for the character to have to prove themselves to people. They may have experienced several things that cause them to behave the way they do. For instance Beoulf say, “ I swam in the blackness of night hunting monsters.” Beowulf experienced a lot in his time and he shared many of his stories as he traveled. He was able to use these stories to mold him to be the hero he continues to show. He puts his safety on the line each time there is a threat to his kingdom. He travels and defeats monsters because that is a noble thing to do. As mentioned before, Beowulf goes to fight rendel. He chooses to not go with a sword. He shows his grit when he goes to battle with Grendel without a weapon proving that he is heroic. Beowulf still was able to defeat the monster and keep his status of a fierce warrior. The imagery used to express his courage was able to paint a picture of true grit, he didn't back down from the challenge. Actually he faced the challenges with no back up . this was one way he was able to stand against his many obstacles he faces throughout the poem. All in all, both devices build Beowulf’s character.

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In conclusion, although fiction, the emotions expressed within this work, emotions of bravery, valor, and ethics still speak to us now. We see Beowulf proves his diligence over and over. He has stories as he comes to the kingdom. He then defeats Grendel, later goes on to killing Grendel’s mother as well. Finally, he faces his last competitor, the dragon, and he loses. The point wasn't the loss, but it was the action that he took to approach the dragon. He wants to protect and serve his kingdom and the only way he knew how to kill any monster that threatens the good people of his kingdom. Imagery and alliteration developed his courageous character. This is a common Anglo Saxon trait that the main character obtains. They both paint pictures for the reader to be right there with Beowulf as he goes on each journey. It opens the doors to Herot and we explore the sides to which he travels.      

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Representation Of The Themes Of Honor And Heroism In Beowulf . (2021, December 16). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 28, 2024, from
“Representation Of The Themes Of Honor And Heroism In Beowulf .” GradesFixer, 16 Dec. 2021,
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