Beowulf: a Great Hero Of Our Time
Beowulf: Hero Comparisons and Differences Then and Now
Beowulf is an excellent story of good verses evil. The story is both fantasy and reality of the ideal qualities a hero should possess. Although the story was written many moons ago, it serves as a great source of reference for what a would be hero should strive to achieve in modern times. Although Beowulf was a great hero of his time, how would he compare to today’s heroes? How are today’s heroes the same and how are they different?
The author of this story knew what he was doing when he chose not to take recognition. What I am trying to say is that Beowulf was a truly great man and a very inspiring story. By not taking credit for writing it, allows for interpretation of characters rather then the author’s intent. People need heroes and Beowulf was a character one could look up too. He was very brave and he loved his kingdom. He would do anything in his power to protect them from evil. He was also very loyal to his men and in battle he would not allow any of them to die in vain. Beowulf was a true warrior and a true hero. Even by today’s standards.
People today are always judging others to see if they measure up to a preconceived idea of what they believe a hero’s attributes should be. In Beowulf’s day heroes were mainly the protectors of the country. They were warriors and kings. But today with everyone having a preconceived idea about heroes, some people choose to look up to celebrities and athletes. Others even choose to elect their heroes in a democratic election even though that person whom they have elected has never served a day in the armed forces guarding their country. These people believe that if a person can make them more money then that person is a hero at least in their mind. In Beowulf’s day if the people thought that way then they would soon find themselves being ruled by a tyrant and any extra money they might be so lucky to earn would be given to their new king. Many people today are content with reaping the rewards earned by others so long as it doesn’t effect them. They are content with hiding out and remaining quiet. If Beowulf was alive today to see their cowardness he would surely find a way to teach them a lesson. I don’t believe he would foresaken them because he was always faithful to his countrymen and he put their needs above his own.
Personalities and job titles have changed but some heroic attributes haven’t changed. In the United States instead of a king we have a president. Some of his duties are much like Beowulf’s duties were. He must still keep up with the foreign affairs including wars in order to protect our country. He must also be able to foresee any affect that foreign affairs might have on the country in the long run. It is our president’s responsibility to ensure that our military divisions, including the airforce, navy, army, and marines are prepared and able to defend our nation or our nation’s allies in time of war. Of course our president also rents out rooms in the White house to visiters and Beowulf would have let them stay as guests for free in the castle, but this is primarily a cultural difference and lets hope it is a short lived cultural trend. The story of Beowulf also speaks about the historic background of the Germanic people. Throughout the story great examples of how people should conduct themselves are given. The story defines a hero by telling a story of one who was victorious in battle and unafraid in death. It is centered around respect and qualities of a person such as honor and bravery. Times have changed for us for many people in the United States it is better to be an athlete who possesses these qualities only during an event when people are watching and when they aren’t the athletes tend to be content with their big salaries and attending big parties in order to keep their popularity high. For they know that as long as they are rich and famous then people will look up to them and in their minds this makes them wise men for others seek their approval.
Beowulf possessed many super human powers, at least he was able to call on them in his time of need. This mystique is what helps to hold how attention. Beowulf began as a humble man who did not have very much money. He was honest and had a big heart. He was content letting others boast of valor and wouldn’t think of challenging someone for the accuracy of their tales. It is only by chance that Beowulf is even discovered as the rightful heir to the throne. But he never forgets his humble beginnings. This is true even today when our country has been at war many a silent hero has emerged. There have been many selfless acts performed in order to save a fallen comrad. People who never thought of themselves as a hero risked death so that others might live. Some of these men have gone on to be very successful in business but they have never forgotten where they came from. This is evedent every year on Veterans Day you can see bike rallies, parades, and special functions given in honor of the men and woman that have defended our country and at each of these events you will find the true heroes telling others in their speeches that what they did they did because we are all Americans. Rich or poor if you allowed one to die because you were to scared to help him then what right do you have to be free? They give inspiring speeches and tell others how they might be able to contribute to the war efforts even if they don’t physically pick up a weapon. Mental support and encouragement are very important to a soldier. Beowulf had the support of his kingdom and that helped to inspire the other knights to continue to press on. Of course his men weren’t always as brave as he might have liked but he never stopped setting the example of what a true hero is to be. This brought much humility and shame upon his knights and many were re-inspired and returned to fight with honor. It is the duty of any great hero to be able to inspire others to do the right thing even when your mind is telling you to run. The hero will tell you to listen to your heart. This was true in Beowulf’s time and it is still true today.
Today people don’t want to think of combat as a way of determining who is a hero and who possess the necessary skills to kill someone. Perhaps this is why Americans and even the world are turning to athletes to find their heroes. As a parent myself I would not want to think of my child as having to go to combat in order to achieve hero status. I would hope that there are other examples that my child could look up to. I know that in Beowulf’s day there were no other examples because the kingdom was always being threatened by outside forces and fighting was a way of life. Today an athlete who stands up and tells children that if they want to succeed in life then they shouldn’t use drugs in my eyes is a hero. This is because there are a great number of negative influences out there that. You can’t see them but they are evil just as the evil forces that threatened Beowulf’s kingdom these forces threaten ours. Whether it is drugs, which craft, communism, or what ever, if a great athlete can take time out to send a positive message to the public and inspire them to make the right decision then they are considered to be a hero.
Beowulf risked his life many times in order to protect his fellow knights and warriors. He always did his part on the battlefield just as each of his men did theirs. He knew teamwork was important. Today there are many other heroes who also believe in teamwork. The silent heroes, the ones you never hear about. They are the teachers who work with our children everyday, they know that everyone must be on the same sheet of music in order for the message to be clear. The firemen who risk their lives everyday, they know how important teamwork is for if they don’t do their part then someone might die. Policemen who help to make our streets safer also know of the importance of teamwork, and to each of these groups not a single hero emerges because they are all heroes. Just as the brave knights that fought along side Beowulf are also heroes.
Beowulf selflessly attempts to dispose of the dragon in order to alleviate the fears of his people. His own men because of fear abandon him when they were faced with the dragons fire. All except for one, Wiglaf who was another great warrior tried to save Beowulf’s life but was unable too. He did manage though to avege his death by killing the dragon himself. Later Wiglaf becomes king and fulfills Beowulf’s last request by building a tall monument in which Beowulf’s treasures and ashes remain. The tower serves as a guide to saiors in directing them for safe passage. That tower is the final gift to his people. By todays standards Beowulf is a true hero. For many people have followed his example. Many a wealthy person has died and willed their belongings to a hospital or a charity in order to help others after they have gone.
I guess all in all Beowulf as a hero of his time would still be a great hero of our time. He has shown us that a hero is not a hero because he is wealthy or popular. A hero is someone who through their selfless acts have improved the quality of life for others, and Beowulf shows us that it is never to late to become a hero. Of course many may argue that the story is to far fetched and there is no way a person in modern times can compare to Beowulf. But I say to them that believe this that it is true that he was able to receive special powers in order to stay under water for long periods of time and he had special armor that protected him from harm, he also had a brain and mighty courage. Today we are able to call on special powers that will give us super human strength and we can also call on this source to provide us with more courage and wisdom. Today we call this the power of God. Maybe Beowulf as a hero back then is not so different then the heroes of today. Jesus is a good example of a timeless hero.
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Beowulf: Hero Comparisons and Differences Then and Now Beowulf is an excellent story of good verses evil. The story is both fantasy and reality of the ideal qualities a hero […]