PAGE TURNER: Beowulf definitely not hero material


We recently studied Beowulf in English class and he may be perceived as a great hero in many people’s eye– one who defeats many monsters and protects his people.   

  Although Beowulf does defeat monsters, I would never consider him a hero. I think that Beowulf is a selfish, greedy narcissist who acts like he is the best. He is actually the opposite of what a hero should be.

  When I think of a hero, I think of someone great, someone who has integrity and doesn’t care who is watching and just wants to help people no matter what. I do not see Beowulf this way. When I first started reading Beowulf I assumed he would be a great hero like the other heroes that I am familiar with, but the more I read, the more I realized that he wasn’t. 

  The first thing that set me off was when he let people die at the hands of Grendel just so he could have his little moment. He watched as people died so he could be dramatic and make eye contact with Grendel before beginning to attack. At this point Grendel had entered the hall, to which we see Beowulf sitting there watching as per the graphic novel. This really shows that he didn’t really care as much about helping the people since he didn’t spring to action once people were being attacked. What kind of hero just watches people die when something can easily be done about it?

  Another thing that sets me off is that Beowulf basically just brings all these people to all his fights just so everyone can watch him win. We see this occurrence with every fight that we read about with Beowulf. With Grendel, he brought 14 Geats along with him and didn’t allow them to help. Now I understand that he might’ve brought them to help with sailing and to keep him company on his journey, but he also allowed them to sleep in the hall where death had occurred for 12 years, and he allowed them to die right in front of his eyes. Also, in his fight with Grendel’s mother, he brings a group of people along with him only for them to be witnesses while he swims down to fight comes back with the hilt of the sword and Grendel’s head. We see this again in his fight with the dragon. He brings people to witness his fight with the dragon because he wants these people to see him win. What kind of hero brings people into possible danger just so these people can witness what he’s done? That’s not a hero; that’s a person who’s full of himself and just wants glory.

  Beowulf was happy when people knew of what he’d done and when he had fame and glory, but after he’d ruled for 50 years and all his comrades had perished, he became sorrowful. I understand being sad because everyone you know is gone, but Beowulf stated that he was sad because he had no one to remember the great deeds he had done. 

  Beowulf was also very selfish. As hee was dying, taking his last breaths, he just wanted to see the treasure, which incidentally he didn’t win all by himself. He didn’t want anyone to have the gold which he had won with Wiglaf, even though he was dying and would never be able to use it. He was greedy even in death.

  Beowulf never seemed to care about those around him or his subjects unless it would benefit him and his fame somehow. Not only did Beowulf have a big ego, but he was also extremely selfish. He wanted everyone to look at him and he wanted glory. Beowulf was no hero.