In the epic poem Beowulf , how is Beowulf a flawed character?

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Jay Gilbert, Ph.D. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Beowulf is not a story that can be easily categorized according to modern terms; if it has a tragic element, however, it is in the fact that its hero does not live beyond the end of the poem, although his deeds survive him. As in the best tragedies, then, there is a "fatal flaw" in Beowulf which leads him to his doom in the final section of the poem.

Beowulf's youth, vigor, and self-confidence, which carried him to victory on previous occasions, cannot do so when he sets himself to the task of fighting the dragon in the third battle of the epic. While Beowulf is depicted as a hero, there is one...

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I would actually have to disagree with mshurn. Beowulf is flawed because he does not boast enough. In this time period the vikings are all worried about achieving val-halla (viking heaven) and the only way to do so is to die noble in battle. To be humble and not boast would be the christian side of the story however the vikings religion is Norse in which it is expected to boast, almost always otherwise you are frowned upon. Eventually Beowulf's men do frown upon him so he goes to kill the dragon.

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