Beowulf was written during the Anglo-Saxon time period. Beowulf is a story about a young warrior and his quest through life. Some people consider Beowulf a tragic hero, and some people just consider him a hero period. Whether Beowulf is a tragic hero or not, he fights many great battles. The reason Beowulf fights stays basically the same but it changes a little.
In the beginning of the book, Beowulf goes to help the Danes out by killing Grendel. Grendel is a ferocious monster that has been killing the Danes in the mead hall (115). During this time period, warriors will celebrate their victories and tell of their accomplishments by singing. This social gathering has started bothering Grendel because he can hear all the noise and happiness coming from the mead hall. This is making Grendel jealous because he is a descendant from Cain, and knows he will never feel happy (106). Grendel goes into the mead hall at night, and he begins killing everyone in there. News of how Grendel is murdering the Danes starts to spread all over. When Beowulf hears about Grendel, he feels that it is his obligation to stop Grendel from killing anymore. Beowulf leaves to go to Herot to kill Grendel. He is mostly being praised for his long journey to face this terrible monster. Beowulf says, “Grendel is no braver, no stronger than I am! I could kill him with my sword; I shall not” (677). Beowulf feels that he can defeat Grendel even without a weapon. The first night, they have a celebration in the mead hall, and the warriors fall asleep in the hall. Grendel makes his usual nightly visit and finds many victims waiting to be killed (725). To his surprise, he meets his match, which happens to be Beowulf (748). After a brief confrontation, Beowulf rips Grendel’s arm off, and Grendel runs away to die (823).
Beowulf is considered a hero now for risking his life to stop Grendel from killing anymore Danes (837). Not only does Beowulf protect all the Danes, he also receives many rewards. Beowulf is doing a good thing, but all his motives are not the most honorable motives. This shows the Pagan values of the time. Materialistic things meant a lot to people during this time.
The next day, there is a celebration of Grendel’s death. Beowulf and his group of warriors leave the mead hall to go sleep in their beds (1300). While they are gone, Grendel’s mother decides to extract revenge (1257) by going to the mead hall and killing the king’s best friend (1296). The king sends for Beowulf and tells him what has happened. The king asks Beowulf to kill Grendel’s mother (1379). Beowulf feels that he must extract revenge and keep this monster from killing anymore people. Beowulf’s motives are nobler now. He accepts the fact that he might not come out of the battle alive. Beowulf goes to the monster’s home in the swamp. Beowulf starts to fight the monster but he is not hurting it. All of a sudden, a light from God shines on a sword on the wall. Beowulf gets the sword and kills the monster (1569). Beowulf’s belief that God shows him the way to kill the monster shows the Christian values in the book.
Beowulf returns home and becomes king after years pass by. One day, a slave finds a tower filled with treasures and a dragon guarding them. The slave decides to steal a golden cup that is there. When the dragon awakens, he leaves the tower in search of his golden cup (2221). This is one cup out of all the treasures he has, so the dragon’s evil represents greediness. The dragon is upset and starts burning up the countryside looking for the person that stole a piece of his treasure (2313). Beowulf decides that it is his duty to kill the dragon to protect his people (2310). Although he defeats the dragon with help from Wiglaf, he ends up losing his life (2821). As Beowulf is getting older, he starts to become nobler.
Is Beowulf a hero or a tragic hero? Beowulf is a hero, not a tragic hero. He does not have a trait or attitude that would lead to his downfall. He does not have a downfall; he just died as a hero because he is old. He keeps his loyalty to his people by fighting the dragon to keep it from killing or destroying anymore of his kingdom, even though all his warriors are not loyal to him. All the soldiers but one leave Beowulf to fight the dragon.
The main three evils that Beowulf is faced with are jealousy, revenge, and greediness. Even though Beowulf starts out with more self-beneficial motives, his major motive stays the same. That motive is to protect the good from the evil. What is a person that protects the good from the evil? This person is a hero.