Last Updated 26 Jan 2021

Beowulf, the Tragic Hero

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Beowulf, the Tragic Hero In the epic poem “Beowulf” the protagonist, Beowulf, portrays a tragic hero in a variety of ways. Although Beowulf was not a perfect being, he embraces many characteristics of a tragic hero. Beowulf’s ego put him into many difficult situations. For example the battles he fought against Grendel, Grendels Mother, and the dragon. Other then his enormous ego along with his cockiness that put him into bad situations, he also embraced the characteristics of a great leader that many looked up to.

In many parts of the poem Beowulf performs many courageous tasks that no one else would even try, making him one that should be idolized. To start off, Beowulf plans out his battle with Grendel. In the very beginning Beowulf tells his people and Hrothgar that he wants to battle and kill Grendel with his owns hands. This part shows his over confident ego because he thinks he is so mighty and strong. While Grendel made his way to attack Herot, Beowulf pretended that he was asleep just as Grendel would see.

As it says in lines (739-746) Grendel snatched at the first Geat… (Line745) He then stepped to another still body, clutched at Beowulf with his claws. Beowulf suddenly leaned up against Grendel’s arm attempting to get back at him. Grendel was very fearful and at that very moment he didn’t even want to kill, he wanted to get away. Grendel struggled until he was free, but he ran free without his arm. Beowulf ego once again ties into this because he claims that it was “fate” that he got away and was not his fault. On the other hand, Beowulf went out of his way to protect Hrothgar and his people when no one else would stand up.

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The second instance where Beowulf finds himself in another situation is when Grendel’s Mother demands to avenge the death of her son. She then decides to kill one of Hrothgars men, who so happens to be Esher, his dearest advisor. After finding out that he had been killed, Hrothgar had summoned Beowulf asking for help once more. Beowulf agrees and battles her at her wretched home. In this confrontation Beowulf decides yet once again to be on his own and defeat the nasty old hag. With one slash of his sword he gets rid of her and is repeatedly praised for his courageous actions. As mentioned reviously, Beowulf always put people before himself, which embraced his characteristics of a tragic hero. Last but not least, Beowulf battles the dragon. It began with a slave that had stolen a golden cup from the dragon’s lair. For the final time, Beowulf’s over confident ego ties into it one final time. We know at this point in time, that Beowulf is at an old age and is becoming weak. Therefore, he insists to fight the dragon by himself. Beowulf’s decision to fight alone is a reoccurring action, if you can not tell. Ultimately the dragon begins to beat Beowulf; his haughty attitude does not comply with his initial strength.

At this moment in time, it leads to Beowulf’s downfall with his final attempt at battle. As he dies he finds the strength to slay the dragon hoping to save his people, one last time. With the death of Beowulf he achieves the fame he has always longed for. Beowulf’s courageous and brave actions along with his tragic death prove that he is a true hero. The events of this epic poem conclude that even heroes too are acceptable to tragedies. Although Beowulf was not perfect, he without a doubt portrayed the definition of a tragic hero.

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