Beowulf The Titular Character Of Essay


Nevertheless, he is resolute in his decision to face the dragon in order to continue on towards his attainment of the paradoxical heroic ideal, even if he recognizes that this ideal may be the cause of unwarranted pain and suffering, and thus tells his men that "this fight is not yours, / nor is it up to any man except me / to measure his strength against the monster / or to prove his worth. I shall win the gold / by my courage, or else mortal combat / doom of battle, will bear your lord away" (Heaney 169, 171). Beowulf knows that his end is near, and thus he does not want assistance from his men, because he would rather they be safe than risk the possibility that their aid keeps him from dying altogether, or worse, allows him to die a peaceful, disgraceful death. Beowulf is eventually aided by his kinsman Wiglaf, but this does not lessen the heroic nature of his death because the assistance he receives actually marks a kind of transference of the mantle of hero from Beowulf to Wiglaf. As the older hero Beowulf is on his way out after having completed the last of his great deeds, Wiglaf is only at the beginning of his life, and thus marks the transmission of the heroic ideal to the next generation. As he is finally dying, having suffered a mortal wound in his battle with the dragon, Beowulf is consoled by the fact that he has led a life according to the heroic...


In fact, one might argue that only in his final moments does Beowulf truly find any peace in his life, because only just before he dies is finally able to be contented that he has done everything he can in order to fulfill the ideal of the Anglo-Saxon hero, including passing that ideal on to his descendants while ensuring a noble death for himself.
Beowulf is clearly representative of the Anglo-Saxon heroic ideal, and the paradoxical requirement for living a heroic life that dictates that this life must similarly end in a heroic death. The beginning of the poem features a young, almost brash Beowulf who is much more concerned with living and demonstrating his prowess in battle than anything having to do with his own death, but by the end of the poem, he has seen enough of the violence in the world to know that his own death is inevitable. Though he reflects on the violence of his society and the pain that is sometimes caused by the constant desire to fulfill this ideal, he nevertheless endeavors to ensure that his own death will be as heroic as his life, and thus goes off to face a dragon on his own. Even though one of his kinsmen aids him the end, it is a fitting ending for Beowulf's character, because quite simply there is no other way it could have ended; Beowulf was able to achieve all of his amazing feats of strength and skill because his only motivation was the attainment of the heroic ideal, and thus so long as he had control over his mental and physical faculties, there was no way he would allow himself to end his journey with anything less than an epic, heroic death.

Works Cited


Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited

Heany, Seamus. Beowulf: A New Verse Translation. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2000.

Cite this Document:

"Beowulf The Titular Character Of" (2012, March 26) Retrieved May 24, 2024, from

"Beowulf The Titular Character Of" 26 March 2012. Web.24 May. 2024. <>

"Beowulf The Titular Character Of", 26 March 2012, Accessed.24 May. 2024,

Related Documents

Beowulf, Grendel, and Grendel's Mother Monstrous? To be monstrous is to be something other than human, but monstrous means more than extraordinary; it is a term with a bad or evil connotation, so that those who are monstrous are not only outside of the realm of the average human being, but also outside of it in a negative way. In the novel Beowulf, one encounters three different characters who have

Beowulf and the Anglo-Saxons Part 1: Introduction Although the epic Old English poem Beowulf has all the characteristics of myth and legend that pertain to fiction, as a historical document it is useful in teaching about the past—the values and culture of the medieval Anglo-Saxon society and how Christian culture intersected with the pagan world at a time when Christian conversion was spreading. Not only does Beowulf refer to real kings of