Beowulf's Heroism

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Chelsea Doyle Survey: English Literature I 2-22-11 Beowulf’s Heroism In the poem Beowulf, one's value as a hero is built on what he has done, and what he will do or the good of other people. A hero is someone who puts his or her own needs aside to do what is best for others. Heroism comes in many forms, but they all share a fundamental similarity: self-sacrifice. In Beowulf's case, there is no question as to whether or not he is a hero. He travels far and wide, telling tales of his exploits and undertaking new challenges in the name of his king. Beowulf is a hero because he puts himself in harm's way for the benefit of others. Beowulf's first heroic exploit is his selfless defense of Heorot from the rampages of Grendel. Although Heorot is not his own hall, Beowulf is willing to protect its people and possibly die in the attempt. Upon arriving in Heorot, Beowulf announces, "And so, my request...is that you won't refuse me, who have come this far, the privilege of purifying Heorot.” (Lines 427-431). He is willing to put himself between Grendel and Heorot, and even humbles himself by calling it his "privilege" instead of a service. Beowulf steps up to save Heorot from the terrorism of Cain's descendant without asking for a reward, knowing that Grendel has yet to be defeated or denied blood. He knows that he may die in the attempt but doesn't back down, a clear example of his heroic qualities. Beowulf does not have anything personal to gain from fighting Grendel. As stated before, Heorot is not his hall, and the people there are not his own people. If he wasn't a hero, Beowulf would have allowed Grendel's attacks to continue because the safety of Page 2 Heorot isn't his problem. Beowulf makes it his problem by taking Grendel off of the Danes' shoulders. He is morally compelled to help the Danes by his own heroism

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