Beowulf Characteristics

What are the major characteristics of Beowulf?

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Beowulf’s personal characteristics include the heroic traits of loyalty, honor, bravery, faith, and superhuman strength. He demonstrates his sense of honor and his loyalty to Hrothgar by volunteering to kill Grendel and then Grendel’s mother. He proves his bravery by battling these two monsters and, at the end his life, the dragon. His strength can also be seen in these battles, as he rips off Grendel’s arm with his bare hands and holds his breath for a superhuman length of time in Grendel’s mother’s underwater lair. Beowulf demonstrates his faith by giving thanks to God for his victories.


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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Beowulf is an exemplary human being who functions as an ideal person. His courage and effectiveness in fighting is balanced by his love for family, generosity, compassion, and overall avoidance of unnecessary violence.

Some of Beowulf's characteristics are as follows:

Loving and loyal to family: Beowulf was raised by his grandfather from age seven. He loves and remains loyal to his grandfather, Hrethel, as well as to his uncle, Hygelac.

Compassionate towards others: Beowulf offers sympathy and words of comfort to Hrothgar when his son dies, and he worries about Freawaru's marriage. He defeats monsters, but we learn of him killing only two humans, despite his being a great warrior. He also rules his kingdom peacefully.

Faith-filled: Beowulf has a strong faith in God's presence in his life and believes that God guides human affairs. He is able to, with trust, put his fate in God's hands.

Dutiful: Beowulf takes responsibility for civilization beyond his own family and homeland, traveling across the sea to aid Hrothgar in defeating Grendel. He is selflessly willing to risk himself for others.

Strength: Beowulf has immense physical strength. This bodily trait is essential to his ability to defeat Grendel.

Courage: Beowulf models courage in his fearless willingness to confront monsters in order to protect the larger social order.

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Hollis Sanders eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Beowulf is depicted as the most ideal of leaders. His most immediately recognizable characteristics are his prodigious strength and endurance, which more often than not fall directly into the category of the superhuman. Indeed, he is able to defeat the vile Grendel single-handedly and go on to defeat Grendel's mother immediately afterward. He does all of this for his people and purely on a volunteer basis, demonstrating his steadfast devotion to his people and his courage in the face of danger.

Furthermore, Beowulf even fights a dragon at the end of his life, against incredible odds, going above and beyond the call of duty for his people. Perhaps most telling of his character is his unfaltering faith, as he thanks and consults God in all that he does, asking that he show him the right course of action and give him the strength needed to pursue justice.

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Queen Langosh eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Obviously, the defining characteristic of Beowulf is his bravery,...

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clairewait eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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anything00 | Student

Human Mightier than any man KingPowerful Serves his people Loyal to king Hero Ruthless to his enemies Good fighter Strong Brave Confident Has a dad Fearless Nobel He has allies Proud Generous He has friends Uses weapons Wears Armor Mercenary Loves Treasure Believes in fate Warrior Mighty Courage Faith Gratitude

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badrlaw | Student

Beowulf, like so many heroes, is described as a great fighter and a man of tremendous strength.  He is brave, and he has self confidence bordering on insanity.  He chooses to fight Grendel unarmed and without any protection because he has total confidence in his own strength.  Also like many other heroes, Achilles in particular, he is boastful and hubris is one of his primary weaknesses.

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