Beowulf : a Tale of Heroism

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Beowulf is the conventional name of an Old English epic poem. It survives in a single manuscript known as the Nowell Codex. Its composition by an anonymous Anglo-Saxon poet is dated between the 8th and the early 11th century. Beowulf was one of the first literary super heroes. Like the common day Spiderman, Beowulf has ordinary human characteristics, as well as superhuman powers. Like the people of Beowulf’s time, he is arrogant, macho, and willing to do anything to vanquish all competitors. The only difference between him and the rest of the Anglo-Saxons is that he possesses extreme physical prowess. Grendel, the antagonist of the story, was feared by all men. He both consumed and attacked people while they slept. Many men had attempted to kill Grendel, however, before Beowulf, no man could prevail. " Grendel ruled, fought with the righteous, One against many and won..."(Beowulf line 81,82).Despite being faced with the certainty of his own demise, Beowulf still insist attacking Grendel, and defeating him. Beowulf kills Grendel in a most unusual way. In this violent scene, rather than attacking him with a sword like every other Geat, he grabs onto Grendel’s arm and squeezes until the torture is unbearable. The violence is exponentially more horrific as Grendel loses his strength, his body parts, and his blood. He later bleeds to death in a slow, painful and agonizing climax. "Saw that his strength was deserting him, his claws Bound fast, Higlac’s brave follower tearing at his hands."(Beowulf line 464-466) Beowulf’s unusual and courageous method of killing Grendel demonstrates his bravery and physical strength. Before, Unferth had taunted Beowulf about his foolish bravery, but when he and all the rest of the Geats saw that Beowulf’s strength and power were worth boasting about, they were humbled. To prove Beowulf was powerful, he hung Grendel’s arm, claw, and

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