“Beowulf”, an Anglo-Saxon long poem composed in the early 18th century, observes a heroic protagonist in three increasingly difficult tasks against the poem’s antagonists. The poem’s formation is deeply focused on Beowulf’s embodiment of the heroic code through the stages of his maturity. The heroic code is a very important preoccupation of this poem, as it includes the traits that act to define the Geatish prince, Beowulf. Strength, courage, pride, loyalty, and hospitality are amongst a few of the qualities dictated by this noble code.
Ultimately, his epic defeat of Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the fire-breathing dragon establishes Beowulf’s heroic qualities.Young Beowulf is portrayed as a courageous and noble leader. His arrival on the Danish coast further analyses the way the young Geatish prince carries himself and is perceived by others. There, the watchman concludes that because of the way Beowulf leads his troops he must be noble, this thereby foreshadows his loyalty and courage to conquer the tasks he will be faced with. His courage and loyalty are first depicted when he is willing to put his own life at risk to defeat Grendel and his mother, both descendants of Cain, who have plagued Heorot for 12 years. Beowulf’s strength is characterized when he defeats the monster, half-man, and half-beast called Grendel, who was said to have superhuman strength.
He proves himself when he rips off the monster’s arms in the battle between the two. He is being put to the test again when he sets out to defeat Grendel’s Mother. He confirms his abilities and establishes himself as a true, and loyal hero to the people of Heorot, by slaying Grendel’s Mother in an underwater battle. Towards the end of this part, Beowulf does not fail to stay nobel, when he gives gratitude to God and Hrothgar, the King of the Danes, who has become a mentor-like figure to Beowulf in his heroic actions.In his old age and the second part of the poem, Beowulf is in Geatland again.
There, the missing stint of his life is depicted by flashbacks and recollections. Through these, Beowulf’s self is shown to be a heroic warrior and king to his people. The final episode demonstrates this to an extent. Here, the story follows how the brave hero defeats the fire-breathing dragon and thereby sacrifices his life for the good of his kingdom, proving he is more than a warrior. Therefore, he is celebrated by his people. However, the poet suggests that by giving his life for the kingdom, he leaves his kingdom unprotected and vulnerable to threats imminent to the kingdom. This view is important because it implies that even though Beowulf gave everything for his country, his actions are no longer heroic.
Instead, they are greedy in a sense that he died preventing only one threat when there are much more to come, contradicting what he lived his whole life as. Instead establish a new view, that Beowulf is indeed only a warrior, not a hero, and acts as one regardless of the challenges he was faced with.Beowulf’s heroic actions are built throughout this epic poem. As his age increased, he continued to establish himself, until the day he gave his life to save his kingdom. His strength and loyalty proved him, again and again, to have doubtlessly embodied the qualities found in the heroic code.