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A Hero


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A Hero Essay, Research Paper

A hero is often a man that is usually of divine ancestry. A hero or heroine can be found in many different forms. There are certain characteristics that make up a hero or a heroine. Some of those characteristics are someone who is endowed with great courage, loyalty, obedience, cleverness, strength and someone who is noted for special achievement in a particular field. Depending on the book or the character a hero or heroine could show one heroic characteristics or more and still considered to be a hero.

The hero, Beowulf, is a seemingly invincible person with all the extraordinary traits required of a hero. He is able to use his super-human physical strength and courage to put his people before himself. He encounters hideous monsters and the most ferocious of beasts but he never fears the threat of death. His leadership skills are superb and he is even able to boast about all his achievements. Beowulf is the ultimate epic hero who risks his life countless times for immortal glory and for the good of others.

Beowulf is a hero in the eyes of his fellow men through his amazing physical strength. He fought in numerous battles and returned victorious from all but his last. In his argument with Unferth, Beowulf explains the reason he lost a simple swimming match with his youthful opponent Brecca. Not only had Beowulf been swimming for seven nights, he had also stopped to kill nine sea creatures in the depths of the ocean. Beowulf is also strong enough to kill the monster Grendel, who has been terrorizing the Danes for twelve years, with his bare hands by ripping off his arm. When Beowulf is fighting Grendel’s mother, who is seeking revenge on her son’s death, he is able to slay her by slashing the monster’s neck with a Giant’s sword that can only be lifted by a person as strong as Beowulf. When he chops off her head, he carries it from the ocean with ease, but it takes four men to lift and carry it back to Herot mead-hall. This strength is a key trait of Beowulf’s heroism.

Another heroic trait of Beowulf is his ability to put his peoples welfare before his own. Beowulf’s uncle is king of the Geats so he is sent as an emissary to help rid the Danes of the evil Grendel. Beowulf risks his own life for the Danes, asking help from no one. He realizes the dangers but fears nothing for his own life. After Beowulf had served his people as King of the Geats for fifty years, he goes to battle one last time to fight a horrible dragon who is frightening all of his people. Beowulf is old and tired but he defeats the dragon in order to protect his people. Even in death he wished so secure safety for the Geats so a tall lighthouse is built in order to help the people find there way back from sea.

The most heroic of traits within Beowulf is that he is not afraid to die. He always explains his death wishes before going into battle and requests to have any assets delivered to his people. He is aware of the heroic paradox; he will be glorified in life or death for his actions. He knows that when he fights an enemy like Grendel or Grendel’s mother he will achieve immortality as the victor or the loser. Even with the enormous amount of confidence Beowulf possesses, he understands that Fate will work its magic no matter what and he could be killed at any point in his life. He faces that reality by showing no fear and preparing for a positive or a fatal outcome.

Beowulf is the prime example of an epic hero. His bravery and strength surpass all mortal men; loyalty and the ability to think of himself last makes him revered by all. Beowulf came openly and wholeheartedly to help the Danes which was an unusual occurrence in a time of war and wide-spread fear. He set a noble example for all human beings relaying the necessity of brotherhood and friendship. Beowulf is most definitely an epic hero of epic proportions.

In the play Macbeth by William Shakespeare, we discover that Macbeth is a tragic hero. Macbeth is very ambitious, courageous, and a moral coward. All of these things lead to his tragic death at the end of the play.

At the beginning of the play, Shakespeare defines Macbeth as a hero very clearly. From the courages in defense of Scotland is significant in the opening scene. However, he is very ambitious to be king. At the beginning of the play, he was loyal to the king.

Yet increasingly his ambition defeated his good nature. When Duncan named Malcolm the Prince of Cumberland, Macbeth decided on the murder of Duncan. When Duncan arrived at Inverness, Macbeth controlled his ambition for the time being and did not kill Duncan. The failing of his decision was soon reflected by Lady Macbeth who called him a coward. From then on, after the murder of Duncan, Macbeth entered into a life of evil.

Since he overcame his good nature, he no longer needed to be with his friend Banquo. He wanted to protect his ambition, by killing the king, and now he killed Banquo, due to the prediction of what the witches said about Banquo’s son becoming the king. Macbeth wanted to ensure that he would reach his ambition without problems.

Macbeth, who now no longer needed any encouragement from Lady Macbeth, started to leave her in ignorance of his plans. Near the end of the play, Lady Macbeth sleepwalked and had a dream about the killing of Duncan and Banquo. She died because of all this pressure and her guilt about the murder.

The power of nemesis is shown clearly at the end of the play

when Macduff came back to murder Macbeth. Macbeth would never have guessed that Macduff would come back for revenge for the killing in Macduff’s household. This nemesis shows an additional force beyond Macbeth’s control. Because of Macbeth’s strong beliefs in ambition and the witches, when he found out Macduff was not born of woman, and also found out the Birnam Wood had been seen moving, he realized that the third apparition had deceived him and he understood he was no longer safe.

Through the development of this tragedy, Macbeth has turned

from a fine natured person to an evil person. His ambition, strong

belief in the witches, has brought him to a tragic end of his life,

and caused many people to lose their lives.

In these two works Macbeth and Beowulf we see how the hero of each book clearly shows their traits of being a hero throughout the story. Each character varies in the traits that makes him a hero. Traits and qualities are what makes a hero what he or she is. A hero is usually honored by his or her followers, in the cases of Beowulf and Macbeth they were both honored and respected by their peoples. The characters Macbeth and Beowulf are classic examples of a heroes.

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