The epic poem Beowulf incorporates contradictions about the heroic character of the protagonist Beowulf. Two certain passages in Beowulf, one initially of the textual content and one close to the end, provide proof of inconsistencies inside Beowulf’s character. We must ask one query of the poem’s protagonist: Is he actually the hero he claims to be? Certain features of Beowulf’s integrity, primarily his lies about people’s perceptions of him, contradict the conventional classification of a hero.
The legend of Beowulf begins with King Hrothgar, who’s in a dilemma because Grendel, an evil monster, has been unremittingly attacking Heorot for twelve years.
Beowulf, a warrior and thane of the Geat King Hygelac, hears of this and decides that he should go to Heorot to assist Hrothgar, for he is the only one who can accomplish this nice feat:
;He introduced his plan:
to sail the swan’s highway and seek out that king,
that well-known prince who needed defenders.
Nobody tried to keep him from going,
No elder denied him, dear as he was to them.
Instead they inspected omens and spurred
His ambition to go […] (200-209).
This passage is one of the primary introductions to Beowulf as a character. The sentence “…prince who want defenders” portrays Beowulf as a noble warrior, well revered at residence. He would “seek out that king,” the king who needed Beowulf the good warrior. Here, the poet’s word selection implies that Beowulf is fearless. Beowulf is aware of that he is the one one who can help Hrothgar, the “famous prince who needed defenders.” But Hrothgar had other warriors who helped to defend Heorot from Grendel, “…powerful counselors, the highest within the land, would lend advice, plotting how greatest the bold defenders might resist and beat off sudden attacks” (171-74). Here, it’s evident that Beowulf has informed a lie. It is not true that Hrothgar wanted defenders. Although Hrothgar had defenders that will have been unsuccessful in the slaying of the monster, that doesn’t suggest that he needed defenders, or extra particularly, Beowulf himself.
A different version of how the elders seen Beowulf turns into apparent after his victorious defeats of both Grendel and his mom. Beowulf returns house to be greeted with this speech from Hygelac:
“How did you fare in your foreign voyage,
dear Beowulf, when you abruptly decided
to sail away throughout the salt water
and battle at Heorot? Did you assist Hrothgar
much in the end? […] (1987-1991).
Apparently, Hygelac did not absolutely support Beowulf’s ambitions to rescue Heorot. It is obvious Hygelac views Beowulf’s enterprise as childish and quite impulsive, which is made clear by his using of the word “abruptly.” When Hygelac says “did you help Hrothgar much in the end?” he doubts Beowulf’s capability to defeat Grendel. It is obvious that he didn’t think he would see Beowulf alive again. This feeling is reinforced a quantity of strains later when Hygelac says, “I dreaded the outcome of your expedition […]” (1993-94).
The sudden apprehensiveness on Hygelac’s part creates a sharp distinction to the first introduction to Beowulf, where he is seemingly the Geat’s prime warrior, who couldn’t be defeated; “he was the mightiest man on earth” (197). This poses the question; are we to consider anything Beowulf has mentioned thus far in relation to his heroic accomplishments? Does this contradiction make him a liar? If he’s a liar, does it diminish the feats he has achieved, such as the slaying of Grendel and Grendel’s mother?
Another one of Beowulf’s contradictory lies may be found within these passages. The first passage states that “… no elder denied him,” while within the second passage the poet’s words, corresponding to when Hygelac asks Beowulf if he “helped Hrothgar a lot ultimately,” imply that the Geats were less than thrilled about Beowulf’s choice to go to Heorot. It is apparent that Hygelac’s words are contemptuous and that he is not asking Beowulf what happened at Heorot as a result of he truly needs to know if Heorot is saved. Hygelac is asking Beowulf in a mocking method as a outcome of the elders did indeed deny Beowulf in his endeavor to help Heorot.
Evidence of the true sentiments toward Beowulf from his kin may be seen when the poet writes “he had been poorly regarded for a really long time, was taken by the Geats for less than he was price: and their lord too had by no means a lot esteemed him within the mead-hall”(2183-2186). This sentence explains that Beowulf was not held in such high esteem as he would have appreciated. His determination to go to Heorot is an attempt to claim his worth to his household and folks because they “firmly believed he lacked force, that the prince was a weakling […]”(2187-88). Beowulf, who holds Hygelac in high regard, desires to defeat Grendel to make Hygelac proud.
If Beowulf is a weakling, how is it that he was the only one able to struggle and defeat the indestructible Grendel? Beowulf somehow knows that it is his destiny to defeat Grendel, which may be the true purpose for “abruptly” deciding to journey to Heorot. For twelve years, nobody in Heorot could cease Grendel. They tried again and again to kill him through the use of any sort of weaponry they could forge. How is it that a newly arrived foreigner defeat Grendel without any armor or weapons? It should be because God had helped the “hero.” This is clear in Beowulf’s many references to God: “Whichever one demise fells must deem it a just judgment by God” (440-41) and “the Geat positioned complete trust in his energy of limb in the Lord’s favor” (669-670).
The Oxford English dictionary defines a hero as “a man distinguished by extraordinary valour and martial achievements; one who does brave or noble deeds; an illustrious warrior.” Valor, braveness and the Aristocracy are not characteristics often present in people who are liars. Noble warriors do not have to lie to assert their price, their actions communicate for themselves. Brave warriors do not lie because they’re brave and don’t concern anything, especially the reality. Because one can’t be courageous and noble while also being a liar, and because being courageous and noble are traits of being a hero, it’s clear that Beowulf can’t be referred to as a hero.