The Idea of Larger Than Life Quality in the Hero Beowulf

Categories: BeowulfGrendelHero

As a hero, Beowulf exemplifies the concept of having a “larger than life” quality. He is shown on his journey to clearly be the hero to others, standing out amongst the rest with his might, or size, or whatever it may be. Everything about him exudes that he is no normal man, which right away leads other characters to understand that he is a hero. In the first section of the epic poem, when Beowulf is grappling with Grendel, even the monster senses Beowulf has extraordinary heroic qualities about him.

Grendel is the monstrous beast that has been terrorizing Heorot for twelve years and killing many without fail; he is thought to be a mass bringer of death and destruction, and unbeatable by any man. Hrothgar and all of his subjects feared that there would be no stopping Grendel ever, yet, as soon as Beowulf attacks the beast, all the monster can think about is trying to flee as soon as possible.

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As soon as Beowulf grabs ahold of Grendel, it is said that “never before had [Grendel] felt in any man other in all the earth a mightier hand-grip; his mood was humbled” (Lines 568-570).

This is the first time that Beowulf proves himself to have the efficacy to do what no other man could dream of doing. The next time Beowulf portrays his larger than life quality is during his battle against Grendel’s mom. Again, no one thinks they can defeat the villain at hand that is reeking havoc amongst the kingdom, so Beowulf takes the initiative and steps forward, volunteering to fight against the monster single-handedly, since he knows he is the only one able to do so.

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In the midst of the fight, Beowulf realizes no ordinary human weapons will work in defeating Grendel’s mom, so, he picks up what will work: a sword made by giants. This is a sword that has never been held by any other human, and it is said that the sword is “so heavy no hand but his own could hold it,” meaning Beowulf is the only human that could ever wield this sword (1050). The hero uses his larger than life quality in order to get himself out of a most dire situation and do what no other man would be able to, yet again.

The last instance in which Beowulf shows his larger than life heroic quality is during his last battle, with the Dragon. He is in the plight of his life, now old and gray instead of the young, fit hero he once was. But even so, Beowulf still says he wants to take on the dragon on his own. After a hard fight, he manages to slay the beast, but gets wounded himself in the process. If it were one of his other men taking on the worm, they would have been dead in a instant, but Be owulf managed to conquer his last trial. Also, at Beowulf’s funeral, his pyre is made to be “broad and high on the row of the cliff” so that it can be “seen from afar by seafaring men” and show to all that did not know him that Beowulf was in fact bigger than all of the rest (875-876). His larger than life personality and qualities are mimicked in the larger than life pyre, a last homage to the beloved and powerful king and warrior. Beowulf shows the heroic concept of having a larger than life quality throughout the en tirety of the epic poem. He is brave, and strong, and he can do what no other man is able to. Be owulf gives off this impressive aura about him, which makes him immediately known to be a hero, and earns him the respect and devotion from others for all of his hard work in protecting whatever kingdom may need his help.

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The Idea of Larger Than Life Quality in the Hero Beowulf. (2022, Sep 18). Retrieved from

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