Unferth- A Hidden Hero

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As seen in “A Hero Theory”, Joseph Campell believes that a hero should be someone “from whom something has been taken, who feels something is lacking from the normal experiences available or permitted to the members of his society” (Campell 14). He also mentions that a hero should be knowledgeable and different from those around him. In general, heroes are supposed to be incredibly strong, smart, witty, and charismatic. However, anyone with all of these qualities would have to be perfect, and everyone knows that perfection is impossible to create in a human being. Heroes do not have to be all of these things in order to be valiant. In fact, a hero does not need to really stand out from the crowd at all. A hero is simply someone who does more than what is required of them in order to help other people, which may later make him stand out. Heroes do not even need to constantly succeed at what they do. In Grendel, many people think that Unferth is not a hero because he never accomplishes anything and never seems any better than those around him. However, Unferth always had the good intention of destroying Grendel and helping the people around him. Unferth does everything that he can throughout the entire story, which makes him very heroic, although some would argue that he is not. Unferth in Grendel by John Gardner is actually a hero who never gets his shining moment yet he still displays bravery, the want to help others, and integrity. A quality that is present in obvious and hidden victors and that is necessary for any hero is bravery. When Grendel comes to attack the meadhall for the first time, he comes into contact with a drunken Unferth, and Grendel describes the scene: “The hallfloor between us, Unferth and myself, lay open. ’Monster, prepare to die!’ he said. Very righteous” (Gardner 82). While he is in a very unstable state, Unferth is still
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