Following the actual meaning of an epic: “long poem, typically one derived from ancient oral tradition, narrating the deeds and adventure of heroic or legendary figures or the history of a nation” we can start seeing why beowulf might not be an actual hero. In an epic the hero is on a journey to accomplish one thing and learn from it to accomplish something quite different from the actual goal. In actuality, Beowulf does not apply to that term, he’s basically a pride man looking for glory.
Although, he fought and saved a lot of people from an sure death, he just did it because he wanted more glory, fame to himself and to his kingdom. So that lead us to think that Beowulf and his historical battles were just more for attention that for the real relief of saving somebody’s lives risking his own. When we study the actual path of a hero, Beowulf didn’t make it on the list, a hero fights to save lives without seeking the glory that comes after, it has someone that helps him on the path more like a mentor and last he has a certain goal that is proposed by a mystic force.
Although Beowulf is idolized throughout the poem as a hero-figure, he has shown his conceited-nature by seeking glory only for himself and not giving credit to those who aid him in his battles. As we see on the first battle with Grendel. He fought him with his bare hands not asking for any kind of help nor the facilities of a weapon.
He fought it while everyone were watching not thinking about how dangerous it was for the people in Danes. These actions emphasizes that he only thought about the glory that was going to bring him once he killed Grendel. The outcome of the first battle, was of course, Beowulf winning and the people showering him affection and praise. The definition of a hero is a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. With this definition Beowulf might do it at the category of a hero, but because he’s prideful he might not have the heart that a hero needs to have and we can see how prideful he is on page 55 when he says :”No one else could do what i mean to, here, no man but me could hope to defeat this monster”. Here beowulf is elevating himself above others in order to bring an eventual glory to his name when, on Grendel’s fight, he watched one of his own men die in order to collect a deeper understanding of Grendel, to eventually fight him and collect glory only for himself.
A tragic hero is destroyed by something he did not knowing, not realizing that he has been mistaken all along. In the next battle with Grendel’s mother, Beowulf drive this hunger for more glory seeking than in the first battle. First he goes alone into the cave to look for her, second he tries to do everything what it takes to kill her and he makes sure that the other monsters are watching him as well and third, after successfully kill her, he takes Grendel’s head. Why does he takes it? He does it to take it as a token and to be more praised by the people. This battle didn’t even need to take place considering Grendel’s mother already had a revenge and may not have come back to the mead hall. This battle is doubtful because he took another opportunity that gave him glory but this time it wasn’t for the greater good. I’m trying to use the idea that beowulf has a flaw of excessive pride, is informed that he has this problem, but fails to fix his fault at the end of the poem. A hero has to go on a journey. He has to struggle throughout the story to grow as a character. He was born being strong and we as an audience do not identify with that. Beowulf has qualities that any other man had but he didn’t struggle to get them, although we do not only look for someone that is sure of his supernatural strength. A hero is someone that gives the people hope and this admirable because he keeps struggling on reaching the goals he has. A hero must have suffered challenges that make him a better person. Epic heroes associate nobility and honor with war. Beowulf attacks his enemy looking for their eyes with pride and without fear.
Beowulf’s final battle with the dragon is where his actions come to and end. It might be the most significant battle on the whole story but it foreshadowed Beowulf’s dead. This is after the dragon attacked and probably wont do it again. Beowulf doesn’t need to go after the dragon but does it anyways ignoring Hrothgars warning of watching for pride at an old age. In page 55 he says:”no one else could do what i meant to, here, no man but me could hope to defeat this monster”. So the main reason he wanted to fight that dragon was for more glory and fame, but his pride lead him to a very fatal death. So first of all, Beowulf goes to the dragon in the most insane way possible. Beowulf brings eleven thanes who aren’t even supposed to help in the battle and even suggests he would have fought the dragon with his bare hands but because of the dragon’s fire-breath he decided to go with some support, instead of having a whole army helping him with himself leading. Now the outcome of this battle is the dragon and Beowulf both are killed. The effect is bad for Beowulf’s people The Weders because now their great leader is dead and they are doomed. He preferred to left his people and die to just let the dragon alone when it stopped attacking.
These three examples show a pattern. As time goes on Beowulf deeds to less and less good until he actually goes really bad. His pride and hunger for glory allowed him go on a path of a terrible death. Although many people praise Beowulf as a big and prosperous hero, they don’t see what it really meant for him saving all those people and killing all those monsters :He just wanted the people to praise him and see how powerful he was just like an almighty creature. This ending is
very concerning seeing that Beowulf’s people are left in confusion and desperation. The constant thought in his lust for glory and pride eventually ended up being his downfall which is why Beowulf is not a hero but a glory monger.