In epics, the main character is usually a hero. This is a person who
expresses courage and superhuman strength. These people are recognized as the
epitome of all people in this time. In Anglo-Saxon literature the role of a hero
is to protect good.
There were many great pieces of literature during Anglo-Saxon times.
Perhaps one of the best was Beowolf. In this story the main character is Beowolf,
a man who protects the Herot from a terrible monster, and later on in his life
protects his own castle. Beowolf is a hero who represents good in this story.
During Beowolfs time people spoke very highly of heroes. An example from
the story of Beowolf protecting good is when the king is speaking of him. He
says of Beowolf, "Until that curving prow carries/Across the sea to Geatland a
chosen/warrior who bravely does battle with the/creature haunting our people,
who survives/that horror unhurt, and goes home bearing/our love."(208-212) The
king speaks of Beowolf as a great hero and hopes that he will be able to defeat
Grendel, the monster that has been terrorizing Herot.
Before his confrontation with Grendel, he did many other things to
assist his people. An example of him doing this is when he speaks of himself
killing the giants and wiping them off the earth. He says, "They have seen my
strength for themselves,/have watched me rise from the darkness/of war, dripping
of my enemies' blood/I drove five great giants into chairs, chased/all of that
race from the Earth." (246-250) Beowolf proves his strength to others and to
In his fight with Grendels' mother Beowolf proves many things. An example
of Beowolfs heroism is when he is battling her. "That mighty protector of
men/meant to hold the monster 'till its life/leaped out ..." (366-367) Beowolf
is described as the "protector" of his people and proves this by defeating
Grendels' mother. She had recently killed a close friend of the king in defiance
to the slaying of her son. To prevent further killing, Beowolf went to an arena
under a lake and destroyed her.
Later on in his life he kills a fire-breathing dragon because he wants
to protect his kingdom. He was king for over 40 years and had done all he could
to protect his kingdom.
Beowolfs best asset is his strength. He uses his superhuman power to
defeat any monster that stands in his way. He also possesses great courage,
which allows him to face great dangers and peril, where other warriors would
turn and go the other way.
The reasons for Beowolf helping his people are simple, fame and fortune.
Grendel is loved by his people and collects great treasures from his battles.
However, Beowolf is most admired because he is a hero and protects anyone in
need. That is why Beowolf represents the hero portrayed in epics, as well as
Anglo-Saxon literature, very well.