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Essay/Term paper: Beowulf: first literary superhero

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Beowulf

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Beowulf: First Literary Superhero

Beowulf was the first literary super hero. Like the common day superman,
Beowulf has ordinary human characteristics, as well as superhuman powers. Like
the Anglo-Saxons of Beowulf's time, he is boastful, manly, and willing to outdo
his fellow neighbor. The only difference between him and the rest of the Anglo-
Saxons is that he possesses extreme amounts of physical power.
Grendel, the antagonist of the story, was feared by all men. He ate
humans and attacked them in their sleep. Many men had attempted to kill Grendel,
but until Beowulf, no man had ever succeeded. "...so Grendel ruled, fought with
the righteous, One against many and won..."(line 81,82).
Despite the probability of Beowulf's death against Grendel, he still
insists on attacking him and defeating him. Beowulf kills Grendel in an unusual
way. Rather than attacking him with a sword like every other Geat, he grabs onto
Grendel's arm and squeezes until the torture is unbearable. Grendel loses his
strength, his body parts, and his blood in this violent scene. He later bleeds
to death. "Saw that his strength was deserting him, his claws Bound fast,
Higlac's brave follower tearing at his hands."(line 464-466)
Beowulf's unusual and courageous method of killing Grendel demonstrates
his bravery and physical strength. Before, Unferth had taunted Beowulf about his
foolish bravery but when he and all the rest of the Geats saw that Beowulf's
strength and power were worth boasting about, they were humbled. To prove
Beowulf was powerful, he hung Grendel's arm, claw, and shoulders from the
rafters of the meeting hall."No Dane doubted The victory, for the proof, hanging
high From the rafters where Beowulf had hung it, was the monster's Arm, claw and
shoulder and all."(line 485-488)
Had Beowulf attacked Grendel with a sword, the events would not have
turned out the same. Many men before Beowulf had attacked Grendel with a sword
and all with no effect to Grendel. If Beowulf had used a sword instead of his
bare hands to kill Grendel, not only would Grendel have survived but the brawl
would not have such a significance in the history of the Geats. Beowulf would
not seem as brave, and even if Beowulf had died, the battle would not have been
as legendary. There would be no arm, shoulder, or claw to symbolize Grendel's
death or stunned crowds to admire Beowulf's courage.
Beowulf's quest to conquer Grendel was successful, not only did he prove
to everyone that he was a "true man" but he conquered one of the most feared
creatures of the time. Beowulf's life after Grendel's death was blessed and his
courageous acts from then and afterwards reached legendary heights.


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