Beowulf: A Study of Kingship


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For the most part, Beowulf’s characteristics describe those of a triumphant warrior who played a major role in defending the lives of his fellow citizens, while leading a thriving country. Although Beowulf soon became king, he died for his people, and was remembered as a victorious fighter. Beowulf is at least in part a study of kingship because it discusses the qualities that produce a good king, the disadvantages during his rule and how he overcame them, and the problems that arose upon his death.

     Beowulf portrays the life a warrior turned king who demonstrates the qualities that not only the ideal king should have, but also the ideal warrior should exhibit. This allows the reader to notice how kings in the past were, and the power they possessed over the people of the area.
“Our eternal lord grants some men wisdom, some wealth and makes others great.” (1726-1729)
This quote displays Beowulf’s greatness as told to him by Hrothgar. He believes that the eternal lord grants this to him, and that this is not initially under Beowulf’s control. Despite that, Beowulf still uses that inborn quality to further his achievements as a king and warrior.

Throughout the story, Beowulf handles many tough situations in which he almost always comes out the hero, saving the lives of the citizens. Beowulf pays a lot of attention to the people, and in turn, becomes a strong king with many admirers.
“…My purpose was this: to win the good will of your people or die in the battle, pressed in Grendel’s fierce grip.” (634-636)
As you can see, Beowulf feels strongly about the people. From this point, you can tell that Beowulf will make a good king, because of his desire to please the people. According to him, it was his main focus of the battle.
Not only was Beowulf known for being a brave warrior and a strong king, but he was also known for being Edgetho’s son. Although never a king, Edgetho was victorious warrior just like his son.
“So Edgetho’s son survived no matter what battles he fought, brave and triumphant, till the day fate sent him to the dragon and sent him death.” (2397-2400)
This quote explains that Beowulf, Edgetho’s son, endured many battles till he died. These people believe in many debated topics, such as fate, or wyrd. This shows that they didn’t feel that Beowulf lost the battle per say, but fate sent him to fight the dragon, which killed him.

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     The span of the book goes through a succession of kings, many of them valiant and admired by countless people. Although Beowulf dies, he finds the one young kinsman who does not run away from the dragon and helps Beowulf, therefore making him a suitable successor to Beowulf.
“You’re the last of our far-flung family. Fate has swept our race away, taken warriors in their strength and led them to the death that was waiting. And now I follow them.” (2813-2816)
This quote is an example of how much Wiglaf’s loyalty meant to Beowulf. He felt that even though Wiglaf was not truly his successor, in the sense that he is not Beowulf’s son, Beowulf still felt that Wiglaf was worthy of the kingship that he had deserved for his gallantry. Beowulf also believes in fate taking lives, according to the quote. Besides that, Beowulf also views himself as a strong warrior, when he said “…taken warriors in their strength…and now I follow them.” This shows also that he has faith in Wiglaf, because Wiglaf is the next king in succession.

In conclusion, Beowulf is a perfect example of the study of kingship. Also, it shows the victory of a warrior and how he goes through challenges, the qualities that hinder or better the difficulties he faces, and the trust in another warrior to be king. This book is a classic tale of a man who seeks a name for himself early on in life, but later, he must depend on fate to finish his life.


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