Essay Sample on Beowulf, an Archetypal Hero

Paper Type:  Literature review
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1178 Words
Date:  2022-09-11


There are a few main characteristics that are used to distinguish between a hero and an archetypal hero. Archetypal heroes are known for having distinct traits like their strength, fighting skills, bravery, nobility, thriving whenever a tragic accident happens, leaving behind their native lands in pursuit of helping people and being a hero in general.

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There are few examples of archetypal heroes from epics and mythologies, and they include; Hercules as portrayed in the book of Hercules, d'Artagnan represented from the Three Musketeers, Gordon, Hecate and finally Beowulf. The following essay thus focuses on Beowulf as an archetypal hero and describes the steps he took to get there through the service he provided for his people and country (Lapidge 30).

The story of Beowulf begins when a thriving king called King Hrothgar of Denmark leads his country into a victorious triumphant and starts enjoying the fruits of his prosperity and reign in general. He even goes ahead and builds his people a great renown mead hall that is named Heorot. All this joy and jubilation from his success and the noise that they keep, however, anger the evil demon called Grendel, who lives just adjacent to their kingdom in the swamp-like environment.

The demon out of spite, hate and annoyance decide to terrorize the entire kingdom. Grendel does this by entering the country every night and kills them in large numbers and always demoralizing their efforts to fight back regardless of the energy they apply. As a result, the kingdom suffers a long reign of suffering, terror, and death until Beowulf a Geatish young warrior decides to intervene and save the people. This marks the beginning of the beginning of Beowulf's rise to heroism.

First and foremost, this portrays the first characteristic of an archetypal hero, and that is bravery. In a kingdom where a demon has thrived and instilled fear in everyone, he stands out and decides to go up against the most feared demon. This directly translates to bravery and courage and it begins the first takes towards making him a renown archetypal hero. Beowulf does not go alone, but he instead gathers a small team of his peers who are men, motivates them and they all become determined that their sole mission would be defeating Grendel.

Having known Beowulf through his father, king Hrothgar accepted the offer made him help the nation and for this gesture, he decided to gift him and his men a heroic feast. During the feast prepared an envious Dane soldier teases Beowulf and accuses him of not being competent and fit to take up such a task, in return Beowulf responds with a description of his past achievements, and this moves the audience even more into liking him. He portrays a lot of confidence when answering the Dane soldiers, and in return, all of the Danish warriors end up cheering him which even boosts his confidence more.

Another description of an archetypal hero is their trait of being liked by the people, and clearly, Beowulf won the hearts of the warriors and all the people who were present at the feast making him even more determined to take up the demon. The banquet ended, and it was now time for Beowulf to accomplish the mission that had brought him to Dane, which was to defeat the devil and restore peace, harmony, and joy back to the people as they had lived earlier (Orchard 56).

In addition to that, what sets aside archetypal heroes from heroes is their extraordinary abilities to fight. Having been undefeated for the longest time, Grendel is confident that no man nor soldier would be able to challenge and defeat the powers of the demon. However, this time when the beast returns it is met with a group of men determined to kill it and stop its terror.

Beowulf shows off his fighting abilities by going up against the demon himself and unarmed. He fights the beast with his arms, and the devil eventually tries to escape and in the process Beowulf tears Grendel's arm off. This leaves the devil wounded and exposes his mortally, and Grendel sneaks back to the swamp where it came from and dies as a result of the wound.

Beowulf's decision to take on the demon with his bare arms and unarmed Cleary shows that his fighting skills are unique and stand out from the rest. Another factor that qualifies him as an archetypal hero is his strength because he took on the demon unarmed and still managed to match its power and finally outmatch Grendel. This was a sign of high energy and courage and his fighting skills.

However, the fight is not yet over because Grendel's mother is annoyed and seeks revenge for his son's death. In the process of seeking revenge, she kills one of Hrothgar's most trusted advisors, and this annoys Beowulf and his team even more than they decide to go to the swamp to look for Grendel's mother. This is another sign of courage and strength as Beowulf chooses to brave the unknown in pursuit of victory.

This time when Beowulf gets to the swamp, he does not hesitate but instead dives in the marshy swamp, and the water fights Grendel's mother and defeats her by killing her. This time he, however, uses a sword that is specially forged to kill a giant and uses it to put an end to Grendel's mother lives.

In the process, he discovers the corpse of Grendel and decapitates and takes his head as a prize to the king. This leaves the Danish people safe from the treacherous demons and monsters that once terrorized them. This goes the Danes overjoyed and they began singing praises of their hero, Beowulf, who overcame all odds and defeated a monster people once thought was unmatched an undefeated. Within no time the fame of Beowulf spreads all over, and he became acknowledged as an archetypal hero who plunged the Danish people from darkness.

Beowulf returns to his country, and his victory overjoys his people. He gives the gifts and treasures awarded to him by king Hrothgar and gives them to his king Hygelac who in turns rewards him too. This shows his nobility to his people and his king and also his selflessness for not deciding to keep all the treasure and gifts to himself. He, however, is faced with the challenge of taking over the throne when his king is killed in a war.

Beowulf as a king rules wisely and prospers for over fifty years until he meets his death fighting an escaped dragon. He dies a hero by sacrificing himself in the battle against the dragon because he kills the dragon and is wounded in the process and he also succumbs to the wound. Beowulf dies a hero, and this makes him an archetypal hero because he dies in service of his people, by sacrificing himself for the greater good.

Works Cited

Lapidge, Michael. "The archetype of Beowulf." Anglo-Saxon England 29 (2000): 5-41.

Orchard, Andy. A critical companion to Beowulf. Boydell & Brewer Ltd, 2003.

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