The Heroic Code In Beowulf
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The Heroic Code
In the epic poem “Beowulf”, written by an unknown author, there are many examples of the heroic code. At the beginning of the story, Grendel is wreaking havoc on King Hrothgar’s mead-hall in Herot. Beowulf and his men are called over from the land of the Geats to help defend the mead-hall against Grendel. After he defeats Grendel and Grendel’s mother he returns to his untimely death. Beowulf exemplifies several characteristics of the heroic code such as fair fighting, equal weapons, and showing loyalty to the ones he is in debt to and to his people. Understanding the ideas of the heroic code found in this epic poem will help to further understand the societies of the Anglo-Saxon time period that this story was written in.
Two of the three topics of the hero code are generally combined into one and that is the idea of always making it a fair fight. Beowulf says, “I have heard, / too, that the monster’s scorn of men / is so great that he needs no weapons and fears none. / Nor will I…. if I let my sword / go where my feet were afraid to,…” (25). His bravery and courage is shown through the passage and his promise that he will not take his sword where his feet are afraid to go shows his dedication to fighting fair. Beowulf gives up his weapons to fate and God to decide if he shall be the victor over Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the dragon. Some might say that he is not upholding his standard when he fights the dragon, but he explains that “I’d use no sword, no weapon, if this beast / could be killed without it… When he comes to me / I mean to stand, not run from his shooting / flames, stand till fate decides / which of us wins” (42). In the end his goal for upholding the heroic code proves to be the end as his last battle with the dragon fatally wounds him, but not before he and Wiglaf slay the dragon.
Another point, showing loyalty to his people and the people that he is in debt to, is ex...
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