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Beowulf: An Anglo-Saxon Warrior Essay


In Anglo-Saxon culture and literature, to be a warrior was to be a hero. A warrior was to be strong, intelligent, and courageous. Warriors had to be willing to face against any opponent, and fight to the death for their glory and people. The Anglo-Saxon warrior was able to be all of these, as well as be humble and kind to their people. In literature Beowulf is a perfect example of an Anglo-Saxon warrior. Anglo-Saxon warrior is clearly shown in Beowulf.

In Beowulf, the Anglo-Saxon warrior is shown well by the actions of Beowulf. It is obvious that Beowulf is the classic warrior. His strength and courage are incomparable, and he is way more humble and honorable than many of the bad warriors around him. Beowulf displays his great strength again and again. Whether he was fighting sea monsters, Grendel's mother, or a horrible fire-breathing dragon, Beowulf showed that his courage and strength should be an inspiration to all warriors.

Strength and physical appearance are substantial to the Anglo-Saxon warrior. Beowulf is described as having the strength of "thirty men" in just one arm, and when he first arrives in the land of the Danes, the watchmen sees the mighty warrior and says, "I have never seen a mightier warrior on earth than is one of you, a man in battle-dress" (Beowulf, 7). Strength is obviously an important characteristic of warriors in Anglo-Saxon culture, but strength alone is not enough to define a warrior. Beowulf shows that every warrior must have courage. In an argument with Unferth, Beowulf says, "Fate often saves an undoomed man when his courage is good" (Beowulf , 12). This quotation shows the significance of courage in the Anglo-Saxon culture. Fate, which was thought to be unalterable, seems to bend for a warrior who has enough courage. Beowulf tells Hrothgar and the Danes that he will kill Grendel (which, on its own, would be a great feat of strength), but he says he will do it without his sword, which shows his courage and honor. Beowulf then speaks in an inspiring way to the thanes in the mead-hall:

I resolved, when I set out on the sea, sat down in the sea-boat with my band of men, that I should altogether fulfill the will of your people or else fall in slaughter, fast in the foe's grasp. I shall achieve a deed of manly courage or else have lived to see in this mead-hall my ending day.(Beowulf, 13)

When Beowulf speaks these words, he shows his great courage, and displays the proper attitude of the Anglo-Saxon warrior. Death for a warrior is honorable, but courage must be shown through deeds, even if it means death. A warrior must be willing to die to attain glory. He must display courage in the face of overpowering or impossible odds, and he must have the strength to back his courage.

Beowulf also shows that a warrior must be modest. When he is exalted by the Danes after his victories against Grendel and Grendel's mother, he refuses kingship, humbly returns to Hygelac, and gives away all of his hard earned treasures. Beowulf constantly refers to his loyalty to his lord, Hygelac. Beowulf is a perfect example of an Anglo-Saxon warrior. Beowulf has all the characteristics of a warrior and is still noted as being "The mildest of men and the gentlest, kindest to his people, and most eager for fame" (Beowulf, 52).

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