Beowulf Characterization Essay

Evil monsters, greedy dragons, and heroes as strong as a bear can all be found in the literary masterpiece, Beowulf. This book is a classic fantasy that can be enjoyed by all ages. The book is about the main character Beowulf, a strong king who goes through many challenges during his lengthy rule of the Geats. He was a good king who always held his ground and fought for what was right. Beowulf’s character shines the brightest during combat, which can be seen in the fights with Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the Dragon.

The battle with Grendel was the first one in the book and introduced us to Beowulf’s character qualities. Grendel was a monster who descended from “Cain’s Clan.” He terrorized the Danes for 12 years before he was slayed. He was described as being, “warped in the shape of a man, moves beyond the pale bigger than any man, an unnatural birth called Grendel.” (Heaney, 1351-54) Grendel was a monster that no one could seem to defeat. He was huge and powerful, unable to be hurt by any weapons.

Grendel was feared by all except for Beowulf. Beowulf had heard of the monster and sought to defeat it. He went to the land of the Danes and talked to the king there about killing Grendel. The king, at first did not believe him until Beowulf boast about himself. This gave the king hope, and he agreed to let Beowulf try to kill the “Dark Death-Shadow” During the night a violent battle ensues in which Beowulf ultimately comes out on top. The hero killed the beast with his bare hands by ripping off an arm from the fiend. This scene showed Beowulf’s amazing strength. The victory however, is short lived as the mother of Grendel came to seek her revenge.

Grendel’s mother is a foul beast looking for revenge. Beowulf knew something had to be done and quickly got ready for battle. Beowulf, with the king of the Danes and his company, marched to the marsh. There at the edge of the water Beowulf gave a confident speech. His final words were, “with Hrunting (his sword) I shall gain glory or die.”(Heaney, 491) Immediately after these bold words Beowulf, without hesitation, dove straight into the lake. This part of the book really captures the bravery of Beowulf. He blindly goes after the evil beast, swimming through the depths of its’ territory without knowing where the fiend is, or what will happen.

Beowulf gets briefly captured by Grendel’s mother but soon escapes her grasp, narrowly missing death because of his fine chain-mail armor. In Beowulf’s quick thinking, he finds and grabs an ancient relic from the lake bottom and kills Grendel’s mother with a slice to her neck. Meanwhile, the battle had taken so long that the king of the Danes had lost hope and left. Only a few of the villagers remained long enough to see his return. Beowulf’s confidence and bravery led him on to rule a peaceful kingdom for 50 years before another threat came about.

Beowulf had one final battle against a mighty dragon. The dragon was the guardian of treasures within a mountain. Someone had enraged the dragon by stealing some of its treasure. This caused the dragon to seek revenge by wreaking havoc upon the Geats. Even in his old age, Beowulf knew he had to do something about the terrible monster. So off he went up the mountain with a shield of iron and his trusty sword. Beowulf faced off with the dragon but this time his luck had failed him, and his sword shattered into pieces on the monsters’ skull. Beowulf, not giving up, decided to try to kill the beast with his bare hands. This did not go well for him, and he started to lose the fight. Beowulf’s armed guard being so afraid of the dragon, fled from the scene. Only one man remained to help Beowulf and his name was Wiglaf. Wiglaf was a young warrior and this was his first time seeing combat. Despite this he bravely jumped in and stabbed the dragon in the belly. It was too late however, and Beowulf had been bit on the neck by the winged demon. Despite having blood rush down his body and poison running through his veins, Beowulf was still able to catch the dragon in the neck with a dagger. The dragon met his end, but sadly so did Beowulf. Beowulf fought for what was right. He stayed brave and confident in himself despite his old age. After a long fight and even longer life, the great hero spoke his final words Wiglaf. “You are the last of us, the only one left of the waegmundings. Fate swept us away, sent my whole brave high-born clan to their final doom. Now I must follow them.” (Heaney 2813-16)

Beowulf’s Character traits of bravery, confidence, and pride, can be seen in every battle the hero had. He killed the “Dark Death-Shadow” Grendel. He dove into the deep waters to slay the revenge crazed mother of Grendel. In his old age he fought and defeated the dragon that had destroyed his throne and terrorized his country. Beowulf’s bravery and confidence can be seen in every battle. He could things without hesitation and with excellence. Though in the end he died protecting what he loved and worked so hard for, Beowulf’s story captures our imagination and teaches us to be brave and bold in all aspects of life.