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Epic of Beowulf Essay - Beowulf as Heroic Archetype

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Beowulf as Heroic Archetype


Monsters, their mothers, and dragons! The epic poem Beowulf, author unknown, includes all these mystical creatures and an impervious protagonist after which the poem is named. As the main character in the poem, Beowulf exemplifies the heroic archetype physically, spiritually, and ethically.

Beowulf is superior to the average person in many areas, among them physical strength. Throughout the poem, Beowulf accomplishes feats that no other man would be able to survive and proves his boundless might. Beowulf is described to Hrothgar, king of the Danes, by a messenger as "...a mighty warrior, powerful and wise" (line 370). Beowulf himself challenges the insults of Unferth by saying, "...no strength is a match for mine" (line 534). Also, Beowulf tells Hrothgar and his company of a time when he had to face several sea monsters in the dark by himself, and still managed to kill them and swim to shore:

...nine was the number
Of sea-huge monsters I killed. What man,
Anywhere under Heaven's high arch, has
fought In such darkness, endur...


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