Beowulf shows many examples of generosity, hospitality, envy, revenge, and loyalty. Although a righteous leader, Beowulf is riddled with flaws and stuck in his ways. The loyalty Beowulf shows throughout the poem is unmatched by any other. Loyalty is a great part of Beowulf because it proves that he can be a great leader. Beowulf expresses his virtue through being a leader and having loyal followers behind him. Becoming a leader as great as Beowulf, everyone needs to follow in the footsteps he will leave. It must be about loyalty to not only himself and his career, but the people he serves.
Throughout the poem, Beowulf has many followers, and this demonstrates his ability to be loyal to a leader. In a part of the poem, Beowulf expresses his loyalty when he agrees to help Hrothgar kill Grendel, who has been terrorizing the mead hall for twelve years. “For twelve winters, seasons of woe, the lord of the Shieldings suffered under his load of sorrow” (Heaney lines 147-150). This shows his loyalty because not only does he fight Grendel he delivers a fatal wound. His people follow him more because of his great accomplishments.
Despite having his ego constantly boasted by people who adore him, Beowulf never lets the glory go to his head, “Beowulf, my friend, your fame has gone far and wide, you are known everywhere. In all things, you are even-tempered, prudent and resolute. So I stand firm by the promise of friendship we exchanged before. Forever you will be your people’s mainstay and your own warriors’ helping hand” (Lines 1703-1708). Hrothgar said this to Beowulf after he kills Grendel’s mother. This also displays loyalty in his people towards him because people start following him. His heroic character brings together his power, wisdom, and his stronger obligation to bring peace to all of his people.
Another way Beowulf showcases loyalty and being a hero is in his third battle. He won his first two battles against Grendle and his she-demon mother, but is killed in his last; “And so the son of Ecgtheow had to survive, every extreme, excelling himself in daring and in danger until the day has arrived when he had to come face to face with the dragon” (Lines 2397-2400). He presents bravery in all his battles, but now he faces a task so daunting that no one can overcome, but Beowulf is certain he can. It does not matter to him if he lives or dies; he is willing to put his life on the line to fight for his people and fight for what is right. This would show his loyalty to his peers and himself. This also shows in Beowulf’s life how he went from a hero to a king. While he ages he prepares himself to fight the dragon. Beowulf is using his power to restore order and maintain peace for the wrongs of the kingdom. Beowulf responds to every test of courageousness to remain a warrior, devout to the people until the end.
He exhibits more ways of being loyal and being heroic in his everyday life, “There Hygd offers him throne and authority Heardred as lord of the ring-hoard: with Hygelac dead, she had no belief in her son’s ability to defend their homeland against foreign invaders” (Lines 2368-2374). Heroism is considering the glorification of a warrior hero and the code of conduct. Beowulf is a wonderful representative of that code, he is valiant, strong, noble, and mighty Beowulf might as well be called one of the best heroes of all time. Beowulf is always on alert for the wrongs to be right.
There are many different occasions that would show Beowulf’s loyalty towards his community. However, Beowulf is not the only one that is loyal; Wiglaf is very loyal and heroic, almost everyone in Beowulf is loyal to someone. How Grendel is loyal to his mother, or Beowulf is to Hygelac and his community. We all learn from this epic poem to trust in and remain loyal to your leader and your country. They have to be faithful and honest to their partner, in order to keep a happy healthy relationship. It’s like no matter where Beowulf went his men went with him, it proves how much they really care for their prince. “All of Beowulf’s band had jumped from their bed’s ancestral swords raised and ready, determined to protect their prince if they could’ (Line 25). Throughout the epic; Beowulf had already shown superhuman strength and his God-like abilities while he was fighting Grendel. He proves that he is a mighty warrior who can rip off limbs of beasts and slaying them with a sword using against the beasts. He also describes this in his recollection of fighting a sea monster for seven nights and surviving. When he goes down to get the head of Grendel to kill his mother, his men don’t give up on Beowulf after a few hours and stay on the side of the lake waiting for his return. This goes back to the theme of loyalty that throughout the text the reader sees that loyalty plays a huge amount in the poem. Beowulf comes to the aid of Hrothgar for many reasons- fame, glory, riches- but also Beowulf’s family owes Hrothgar a debt that he wishes to pay. Beowulf is shown as a leader who is men’s respect and in return, Beowulf gives them his loyalty.
Beowulf is also loyal to his people. For instance, this can be seen when he explains to Wealhtheow that he meant “to perform to the uttermost or what your people wanted or perish in attempts. In fiend’s clutches” (Lines 634-636). Beowulf’s loyalty is in full function, he is not just accepting the battle but is also showing that he would rather die in an attempt than leave without a scratch. Beowulf would also show his loyalty to his destiny by accepting Grendel’s challenge without remorse or regret. He says, “Now that I mean to be a match for Grendel, settle the outcome in single combat” (Lines 426-427). He isn’t just showing bravery but also asking the King’s permission before he leaves to show his loyalty to the king.
Sometimes the hero’s discourage themselves, in the poem Beowulf is being doubted, not only by the people but by himself. After the battles that he had fought to briefly mention how he is discouraging. He would tell himself that it was a good match. “We have gone through with a glorious endeavor and been much favored in this fight we dared against the unknown. Nevertheless, if you could have seen the monster himself where he lay beaten, I would have been better pleased.” (Lines 957-961).
Now some would say that Beowulf wasn’t loyal or even a hero. They would call him rude, selfish, and self-absorbed. For instance, in the story, there is a pattern throughout the battles. He fights each battle by himself, like Grendel’s fight. During the battle with Grendel’s mother, he jumps into the lake without any help from his men. If he had the help he would have defeats Grendel’s mother faster. All of his men worried, they thought he was dead. But today there are heroes that fight battles by themselves. But they know when to call for help. For example, Justice League, Batmen, Wonder Women, Flash, and Aquaman, had come together as a team to save the world. During the time people needed more heroes like Beowulf. Beowulf cared about the other people but he also cared about the people that betrays him, he had cared about what people thought of him. Just like in the poem when Unferth is trying to bring down the reputation of Beowulf, “Are you the Beowulf who took on Breca in a swimming match on the open sea, risking the water just to prove that you could win? It was sheer vanity made you venture out on the main deep….” (Lines 506-518). Even though in some people’s minds it is ok to have things bad about you mainly because no one is perfect and it creates a character but in Beowulf’s mind, he has to be right.
The battle with Grendel is where we see Beowulf being heroic, brave, and loyal to Dane’s king. Grendel first enters the poem as a monster who was cast out by God. “He dwelt for a time in misery among the banished monsters, Cain got no good from committing that murder…” (Lines 105-107). Now not only had Grendel already starting off in a bad predicament but he now contains this raid but going and killing thirty men for twelve years. By this point, the people of Heorot had run off just because of Grendel. People are scared and didn’t know what to do, Beowulf came to save the day and help the king and saved his life. It was more I have your back and you have mine type of situation. Now that Beowulf has entered the kingdom to slay the ferocious beast, but coming from the far lands the King wanting to celebrate the soon-to-be dead beast. But what the King didn’t understand is that his parties are what made Grendel angry. Beowulf sees this and takes the opportunity. Now that things are starting to die down Grendel comes, and Beowulf is waiting for Grendel to kill one of his very own men. Now, do you think that a hero lets the best like Grendel kill one of his men? This came to the realization that he had to make a sacrifice, he had to make it seem as before so Grendel doesn’t know what is coming from behind. That was the only thing that Beowulf knew he had to do even if he didn’t like the idea of it.
As a result, Beowulf shows a variety of different ways he is a great leader and a wonderful hero. In reality, he might have not even needed to fight those battles to show his loyalty to the community because he had the intelligence to prove it. But, he chose to do the right thing and not the bad. He protected his people from beasts and saved many lives because he only put his own at risk. If he didn’t only put his own life at risk many more people, his followers, his men would have been dead. That’s what made him a great hero, a great leader, and had great loyalty to his people. He showed that no matter how hard it gets that you should keep pushing through and always keeping your head up when you can’t do something. He is showing that it doesn’t matter who you are; rich or poor, royalty or a civilian you can do what he did, you just have to believe in yourself, and once you do that then you can accomplish anything in life. Beowulf’s loyalty and heroism showing everyday people that they have the ability to do what they want in life as long as they have the right followers. But, you have to be a follower before you can be a leader. Learn from your mistakes and gain what you have learned. Listen to your peers and never give up. He taught everyone a way of living and that is what made him an amazing leader and warrior. The way he taught us by his actions and how hard it was to get through so much in life.