How “Beowulf” Shapes our Perception of Heroism and Identity

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Updated: Aug 27, 2023
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Beowulf’s Impact on Contemporary Views of Heroism

Beowulf is the most straightforward kind of epic hero there is. The epic poem is about the conflict between a courageous, strong, loyal fighter against the demons and dragons of hell. Beowulf had many themes, including Good vs. Evil, identity, strength vs. skill, wealth, and mortality. In the 21st Century, these themes are still important to many people. Good people still do good things to stop the evil parts of the world. Most still struggle with finding their identities in their day-to-day lives.

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In this poem, the good goes against evil in several events. Beowulf goes up against Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and monsters.

Beowulf never gave up, even when his battles with the evil side had gotten out of hand. The forces of good and evil keep fighting even though one has to die to defeat the other. The good in Beowulf means strong, generous, and prideful. The evil in Beowulf means all the demonic creatures from the marshes. In Beowulf, the battle between good and evil is not about the story’s morals; it is about the reputation of yourself.

Understanding and Attitude Towards Identity Through Beowulf

All of the characters and even people today have trouble knowing their identity. This being said, this could even mean you do not know how to express yourself. Also, not knowing how to tell people who you are and where you came from. Before the evils of medieval, Scandinavian warriors had to “sell themselves” by taking themselves up, being prideful, and making assumptions about their past victories. “Have watched me rise from the darkness of war, dripping with my enemies’ blood.” ( 247– 248). At other times, this could mean boasting about your achievements to improve your reputation. Beowulf shows his identity as a great warrior and eventually becomes king with all of his good deeds, boasts, and gifts he has given to his supporters.

Beowulf has quite a few skills and strengths shown in the poem. His fighting skills against evil, bravery, and pride are all outstanding skills he has shown in the poem. Beowulf carries himself well, dresses, and talks very sophisticatedly. “I have never known fear; as a youth, I fought In endless battles.” (624–625). Beowulf has a significant amount of strength in the story. The way he rips off Grendel’s arm, instead of cutting off the arm, he rips it off with his bare hands. Grendel was known as the demon, never to be defeated, but Beowulf had the right strengths and skills to defeat the all-mighty evil.

In conclusion, Beowulf was a loyal warrior with many skills and strengths. Beowulf is like many heroes today, including army men and women, police officers, firefighters, Etc. All good things come across evil forces; the good has to be capable of overcoming the evil. Beowulf was filled with themes that people can still use today in their everyday lives. Most peers are still trying to find their true identity in life to help others find theirs. Beowulf teaches us never to give up, even when circumstances are harsh.


  1. Heaney, S. (1999). Beowulf: A New Translation. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
  2. Chickering, H. C. (2006). Beowulf: A Dual-Language Edition. Anchor.
  3. Drout, M. D. (2007). Beowulf and the Critics. Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.
  4. Niles, J. D. (2015). The Idea of Anglo-Saxon England: Remembering, Forgetting, Deciphering, and Renewing the Past, 1066-1900. Wiley-Blackwell.
  5. Osborn, M. (2003). The Warrior Identity in Beowulf: Archetypes, Structures, and Systems. The Heroic Age, 6(1), 12-33.
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How "Beowulf" Shapes Our Perception of Heroism and Identity. (2023, Aug 27). Retrieved from