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Beowulf as an epic poem

Updated on August 23, 2012

Why Beowulf is considered as a great hero

For a detailed study of heroism of Beowulf check the link below

Beowulf, the synonym of heroism and bravery


Beowulf poem as an epic

Beowulf is a wonderful epic poem and one of the best pieces of literature in the English language. The poem is in the language of the Saxons, in Old English language. The poem is famous for its Scandinavian hero and his bravery acts. The adventures of the hero are the primary focus of the poem. The historical elements of the poem makes it’s a great epic. The heroism of the main character, the fight of good and bad, the differing beliefs, the introduction of paganism and Christianity; the mix of all these factors makes the poem a great epic (Beowulf).

Beowulf en epic hero

Beowulf is a hero in the eyes of all people. Except for the last battle he was victorious in all the battles he fought. In the swimming match we find him swimming for seven nights and killing nine dangerous sea creatures (that lived in the depth of the ocean) during the swimming. We also find him killing the great monster Grendel that was frightening the Danes for almost twelve years. Beowulf was strong enough to rip off the arm of Grendel. We also find Beowulf fighting against Grendel’s mother (Beowulf). Grendel’s mother attacked Beowulf for killing her son. Beowulf slays her also and cut off her neck with a big sword which only he can lift. After chopping her head off he takes it from the ocean easily. Beowulf had great strength that made him a real hero. The heroism of Beowulf makes the poem a real epic.

Beowulf Poem analysis, heroism of Beowulf making the poem an epic

The willingness of Beowulf to sacrifice his life for helping others is yet another major heroic character of Beowulf. He always tried to put his before him. Beowulf is sent to destroy the evil Grendel and save Danes. We find Beowulf taking help from no one and risking his life to save Danes. Even though he realizes the danger he was afraid of losing life. Even in his old age he goes to battle and defeats a deadly dragon so that his people will be protected. Even in death he desired to help others. A tall lighthouse is erected so that people can find their way back from sea. The heroism and sacrifice of Beowulf is what makes the poem a great epic. Beowulf never feared death. We find his telling his death wishes every time he goes to fight. He desired his wealth to be given to his people. He says "And if death does take me, send the hammered mail of my armor to Higlac, return the inheritance I had from Hrehtel, and from Wayland. Fate will unwind as it must! (Beowulf, p. 18)." He was well aware of the immortal glory which he will receive. This heroism is the major feature of all epics. This only makes Beowulf an epic poem. He knew about the eternal rewards of his ventures. He knew that for fighting with ferocious creatures like Grendel he would receive immortality even if become the loser.

Bravery of Beowulf

Beowulf wanted to bring success for his people even if it happens to take his life. His purpose was to fight for his people and restore their fortune. He was not reluctant to die in the battlefield. He was aware that his name will be glorified in life as well as death. He says "When we crossed the sea, my comrades and I, I already knew that all my purpose was this: to win the good will of your people or die in battle, pressed in Grendel's fierce grip. Let me live in greatness and courage, or here in this hall welcome my death! (Beowulf, p. 22)" He always faced reality without any fear. He was least bothered about the outcome and never feared. He was confident in everything and believed that Wyrd or fate would operate no matter he is killed or kept alive in the battle. He was always ready to sacrifice his life. He boldly faces everything. This very bravery of the main character makes the poem a celebrated epic.

Heroes in great epics: Beowulf, the brave hero

Beowulf, a pagan poem illustrating fight between good and evil

In great epics we often find brave heroes. While looking at the values (strengths) of these heroes, we can see that as much as they were strong in their respective values, equally they were found to be weak and vulnerable. They made their faults of life. However, these faults would not discount from their accomplishments and only added to their fame. Beowulf makes the poem a great epic. In the story, good and evil fight and wipe out each other. Good is illustrated by God. We can see Beowulf pleading to God for power to strengthen him in the battle. Evil is found to be defeated by good. However, evil continues in good stand for a long time. Fight between good and evil is one of the main conflicts in the poem Beowulf, and ultimately both Grendel (the first opponent of Beowulf) killed lots of men before meeting his match. They do consume innocent people and are defiling the laws. Beowulf however helped people when they require, and believed that God himself is with him. In the poem wyrd or fate is the most important belief. Beowulf is a pagan poem and this wyrd is a pagan belief. Grendel is illustrated as an antagonist and as an evil villain. This fight between good and bad makes the poem a great epic.


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    • Mili-AL profile image


      2 years ago

      good.Hope help and my in this/

    • profile image


      3 years ago


    • profile image


      4 years ago

      thank you for your helpful notes about beowulf.

    • dhannyya profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      thank you Lastheart for your comment...happy that you liked the information

    • Lastheart profile image

      Maria Magdalena Ruiz O'Farrill 

      6 years ago from Borikén the great land of the valiant and noble Lord

      Thanks for sharing, good job! Voted up and more. It is a very interesting story.


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