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The Wanderer Vs. Beowulf

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Beowulf was not a hero of ingratitude, however, he struggled with boasting. He was very thankful for the life he has because he knew every battle he faced, his life could be taken away from him. Beowulf is a hero that gives all the glory to God, but also is thankful that God allows the things he does. Beowulf stated at Heorot, “I don’t boast when I say that neither you nor Breca were ever much celebrated for swordsmanship or for facing danger on the field of battle” (Beowulf 583-586). Beowulf is not boasting when he states that he was ever much, but he is just stating the fact that they were not. Beowulf is not being boastful at this time; however, he is very boastful throughout the epic poem. Beowulf does not rub in the other Danes’ faces, but instead give glory and honor to his Lord. Even when given the beautiful amour, Beowulf is still blown away. He could not believe the beautiful treasure that he receives out of love. Beowulf showed gratitude because he does not act snobby, but instead grateful that he is the man receiving the great and valued treasures. However, Beowulf has moments where he is very boastful. Beowulf cut off Grendel’s mother’s head out of fury, rage, and boastfulness. He wants to show that he is strong enough to defeat Grendel’s mother without anyone else’s help. The Danes do not want a boastful hero, instead someone who is humble and full of gratitude, which is not Beowulf. This is another area that Beowulf failed at the attempt of being a wise man, as found in “The Wanderer,” and is labeled as a flawed hero.

Beowulf would be described as a flawed hero. Beowulf obtained many great heroic characteristics; however, he did not contain the characteristics stated in “The Wanderer.” “The Wanderer” states,

A wise man must be patient,

neither too hot-hearted nor too hasty with words,

nor too weak in war nor too unwise in thoughts,

neither fretting nor frivolous nor greedy for wealth,

never eager for boasting before he truly understands;

a man must wait, when he makes a boast,

until the brave spirit understands truly

whither the thoughts of his heart will turn. (“The Wanderer” 65-72)

It is very clear stated what “The Wanderer” believes to be a wise man. A man must be patient, not hot headed, too weak, not wise, greedy, boastful, and much more. Beowulf struggles fitting these characteristics because his boasting got in the way. The King of the Danes stated, “Do not give way to pride. For a brief while your strength is in bloom but it fades quickly; and soon there will follow illness or the sword to lay you low, or a sudden fire or surge of water or jabbing blade or javelin from the air or repellant age” (Beowulf 1760-1767). The King is stating that it is time for Beowulf to stop being cocky and greedy and self-centered. Beowulf has risked his life for others; however, the King saw Beowulf as being greedy about his triumphs. The King told Beowulf it is time to stop being so greedy and full of yourself because soon death would catch up to him. This actually happened, Beowulf dies from his greed and self-centeredness. He does not change, and he had to suffer death because of it. This results in Beowulf being labeled as a flawed hero.

Beowulf was viewed as a great and strong hero to some. However, when being compared to “The Wanderer,” he was viewed as a flawed hero. His pride is what lead to him to be killed. Beowulf is very strong; however, his pride gets in the way. Beowulf is a flawed character because his pride causes him to die. He wanted to defeat the dragon by himself, which resulted in him being killed by the dragon biting him in the neck. If he would have taken on the dragon with a group of men behind him, he would have a possibility of not dying. But because he was very prideful in this strength, it leads to his death. Therefore, Beowulf is found to be a flawed hero even though he had many heroic characteristics about him.

Work Cited

"Beowulf." The Norton Anthology World Literature, Edited by Martin Puchner, W.W. Norton and Comp., 2013, 891-860.

“The Wanderer.” Trans. R. M. Liuzza. PDF.


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