How does Beowulf protect his people throughout the poem Beowulf?

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wshoe eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the epic poem Beowulf, the hero bravely protects his people. The strongest example of this is his battle with the dragon.  At this point Beowulf is an old man.  Although he knows that fate will not be on his side in this battle, he realizes that no one else has a chance of defeating this monster.  Beowulf states, "No one else could do/ What I mean to, here, no man but me/ Could hope to defeat this monster" (l.682-4).  Facing almost certain death, he does not hesitate to fight the dragon to save the Geats.  Beowulf knows that the dragon is going to continue to lay waste to their land and he feels that it is his duty as king to protect his people.  

Another way Beowulf protects his people occurs in the final moments before his death.  Although he kills the dragon, he is mortally wounded.  Even though none of his men, other than Wiglaf, helped him in the battle, he still instructs Wiglaf that the dragon's hoard should be used to care for his people. He names Wiglaf as the next leader because he is the only one who possesses any of the Anglo-Saxon values.  Beowulf's final wishes involve the care of his people, even though they deserted him in his greatest time of need.