In the epic poem “Beowulf”, the poet presents both the elements courage and cowardice. These elements are very important and show up continuously throughout the poem. Although the poem is mainly about heroic battles, there are also many cowardly acts among the villagers. The poet significantly develops courage throughout the poem. It is shown when Beowulf challenges Grendel to a battle and ends up defeating him. It is stated that Beowulf fought without any armor and still won. Once done with the fight, he is faced with another battle which is Grendel’s mother.
After a tough and long fight, Beowulf ends up winning as well. The brave and courageous thing about Beowulf is that he is willing to do anything and fight for his people, he gives it all his strength to save his village. For example, the challenge with Grendel started because he was terrorizing the Danes. Another example of courage in the poem is when Beowulf fights the dragon, it is clear that this is one of his toughest battles but he cares for his people and puts himself in danger. Beowulf accomplishes a lot for the survival of the Danes and the Geats.
On the other hand, cowardice is also shown in the poem through Unferth. Unferth does not want to live under the “courageous” culture that is so popular in many men anymore. By this, he is letting so much happen to his kingdom and doesn’t care. The most coward thing that Unferth does is give away his sword, it was known back then that a virtuous warrior never parted from his sword. Just like Beowulf is very brave, he has his bad moment as well, he doesn’t want to admit that his time has come and that he is too old to fight the dragon.
But the people in Geats show cowardice by not helping their king on his battle. Instead, they hide and just watch not even helping their king who has done so much for them. In conclusion, the epic poem “Beowulf” may have many brave people but it also shows how some throw away their position as king or do not want to fight for their people anymore, as well as the inconsiderate villagers. Both courage and cowardice are very well portrayed in the poem.