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What are important characteristics within Beowulf that make Beowulf an epic hero. Give...

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qbice1480 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 11, 2007 at 7:40 AM via web

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What are important characteristics within Beowulf that make Beowulf an epic hero. Give specific examples.

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luannw | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted December 11, 2007 at 8:47 AM (Answer #1)

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An epic hero has to perform heroic deeds.  Beowulf kills Grendel, Grendel's mother, and the dragon all of which are heroic deeds that no one else was able or willing to take on.  The foes that Beowulf fought were all beyond human strength and capabilities and required superhuman abilities to bring down.  Beowulf performed these deeds for the good of others which is another quality of an epic hero.  In the end though, it was the human mortality of Beowulf which brought him down when the  poison wound caused by the dragon resulted in Beowulf's death.

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msmegmaynard | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted September 5, 2011 at 11:56 PM (Answer #2)

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There are 4 characteristics that all epic heroes must have - they are Glorified, On a Quest, Ethical, and Strong. Beowulf is glorified not only because of his noble birth, but because of his past deeds and accomplishments. Beowulf is on a quest, no only at the beginning of the poem (to kill Grendel), but throughout the poem - his mission is to gain more fame and fortune. He is considered ethical because of his protective nature and willingness to help the Danes with their problem. Although it is debated, I would argue that Beowulf gradually loses this trait through the story. Lastly, Beowulf is strong. His strength is exemplified through his capability to complete tasks no other man can complete, such as ripping off Grendel's arm, lifting and wielding the giant-forged sword, and carrying Grendel's head without assistance.

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