You’re probably waaaaay more clued in than
I am, but just a note. Beow, the character who appears in line 12, is not Beowulf. Yeah. Up next, we’ll talk about Beowulf—main character
and hero. Because even though he isn’t named until line 340, Beowulf is still the most
important guy in Beowulf. This poem is about what it means to be a hero.
And the poem’s definition of heroism—and how that definition changes—is all wrapped
up in Beowulf’s character. Beowulf exemplifies two different kinds of
heroism in this poem. At first, Beowulf embodies youthful heroism—expressed
mainly through his feats of courage and cunning, like fighting Grendel unarmed and slaying
Grendel’s mother in an epic underwater battle. But even as a young man, Beowulf is more than
just a warrior. He also expresses loyalty and courtesy—key qualities of the heroic
code. In the second portion of the poem, Beowulf
showcases the heroism that comes with being a reliable king. During flashbacks, we learn
that after Hygelac’s death, Beowulf showed loyalty and respect by supporting the king’s
rightful heir. And, in perhaps one of the most heroic moments
of all, we watch as a dying King Beowulf rejoices in the dragon’s treasure—not for his own
sake, but because it gives him some hope that his people will be cared for after he’s gone.