Beowulf: the Archetypal Hero

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In the novel, Beowulf, the main character is the epitome of an epic hero. He has great strength, he is morally sound, and, for the most part, he thinks of others before he thinks of himself. Beowulf comes to the Geats’ aid when an evil monster named Grendel terrorizes their mead hall. He courageously defeats the monster and defeats the monster’s vengeful mother. Through these battles, Beowulf’s strength, humbleness and courageousness is revealed. These are characteristics that are crucial in defining an epic hero. However, every epic hero has a tragic flaw. Beowulf’s tragic flaw is his pride. His tragic flaw is evident throughout the novel thinking he can win them all. Beowulf defeats the evil monster Grendel and his mother with ease. However, when it is time to battle the dragon, his pride causes him to be defeated. Beowulf is portrayed as a classic epic hero and, like many other heroes of the time, has a tragic flaw that ultimately leads to his demise. Beowulf possesses many of the traits of an archetypal epic hero; he is strong, humble, and willing to fight to death if necessary. One of the most obvious heroic traits of Beowulf’s is his strength, which is a vital feature in Anglo-Saxon heroes. Beowulf had the strength of thirty men and is blessed with strength beyond that of an ordinary man. Although strength is a key characteristic in defining an epic hero, it alone is not enough to define an epic hero (Greenfield 3). Along with strength, one must have other distinguishing traits to be considered an epic hero. Overall, heroes are morally and principally sound. They have good character and usually lack evil traits (Patton 1). A hero should not seek glorification or attention for their aid; they should be concerned only with doing good. Although Beowulf does seek a little glorification, he shows that a hero must be humble. When the Danes praise him for his

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