What Makes Beowulf An Epic Poem Ap Literature Essay

700 words - 3 pages

Damewood 1
Damewood 2
Damewood 3
Claire Damewood
Mr. Ramseyer
College Prep English
6 November 2018
Epic Elements of Beowulf
The story of Beowulf is a story that takes you back a few hundred years. This is a story, not of a mere man, but a savior and a god to his people. There are three key epic elements of a hero that are shown in Beowulf. These are his superhuman abilities, his willingness to sacrifice his life for others, and the difficult challenges he faces in order to show his bravery.
Beowulf is not a mere human being, he is a god compared to men. He has incredible powers both physically and mentally when it comes to fighting. This is shown in the first fight scene when Grendel, “the captain of evil discovered himself in a handgrip harder than anything he had ever encountered in any man" (1023). Beowulf is so incredibly strong that even Grendel, the monster that an entire town couldn't kill, couldn't believe his strength throughout the battle. Beowulf is a mighty warrior, but he is still a average man and enjoys normal things just as everyone else. Even back home he still enjoyed swimming just as any other man would. But this isn't just any swimming he would swim great distances in waters swarmed with sea monsters like it is an easy task for him and in his own words he tells us that he is “the strongest swimmer of all" (920). Due to Beowulf's inhuman strength, he is able to swim through the rough water and fight monsters like its nothing.
Throughout the poem Beowulf displays his willingness to sacrifice his life for the better of his people. Beowulf cared a great deal about his people and believed that the common people deserved "his God-given” gifts whether “young or old” (1550), he always made sure his people were safe. Once he even gifted all of his people his treasures he had come by just to show his appreciation to them. He didn't just give them wealth too, he gave his life for them. When the dragon came and attacked the town "none of his comrades came to help him, his brave and noble followers; they ran for their lives," (1920). Instead of fleeing and saving himself, he did the biggest sacrifice of all for his people and died saving his followers. Beowulf loved treasure and gold, but he put all of that behind him and showed that his people mean more to him than anything else in his life, including his life.
Through the tough challenges that are presented to Beowulf throughout the poem his bravery is shown above all else. This is the element that is by far the most important to obtain. Every foe he versed was much larger, scarier, and more dangerous than he was, but that never stopped him he always triumphed through these difficult situations. Before Beowulf fought the dragon, not a thought in his mind was negative. He thought that before he would fight the dragon that he was going to win and that "He had scant regard for the dragon as a threat, no dread at all of its courage or strength" (1249). But before he fought the dragon, he took on Grendel "grim demon...he had dwelt for a time in misery among the banished monsters" (1420) that has killed twenty plus of his people in one night due to his anger. But that had no effect on Beowulf's mindset during this last battle.
Beowulf was a classic hero in every possible way. He was beyond strong, willing to risk his life for the people, and took on so many difficult challenges and was brave no matter what. He ultimately died for his people and sacrificed everything. He also was incredibly strong leader to his people and was looked up upon by many. And last but not least, he fought a dragon, a disgusting monster, and Grendel's mother. No man has ever gotten close to killing any of these creatures let alone injuring them and the fact that they had no effect on Beowulf is truly impressive because of these reasons, Beowulf is truly an epic hero.


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