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The Meaning Of Pride In Beowulf

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For several stories, the protagonists’ pride is usually shown and explained by the narrator or secondary characters. Yet in Anglo-Saxons’ Beowulf, translated by Seamus Heaney,, his pride is boosted by himself; he takes satisfaction in knowing he is letting everyone know of his value and importance to the world. Before each battle, he showed up with such a pretentious manner of fighting and boasting.

In the beginning of Beowulf’s journey through life, he is considered a great warrior. While he is a hero who includes, loyalty, courtesy and slight maturity whilst perfecting his values and manner; Beowulf is quite boastful and cocky. As Unferth is scared of Grendel and does not oppose a threat, Beowulf has no fear towards him. Just like Unferth who still doubted Beowulf’s fighting abilities, he commented,”When it comes to fighting, i count myself / as dangerous any day as Grendel” (Lines 677-678). Since he does not like when people do not believe in him, Beowulf is easily taking upon challenges to prove himself and his worth. He soon becomes too boastful of himself that several of the people tend to disbelieve in his capabilities. Yet, he is convinced Grendel, “will find me different” (601). As he defeats his strong opponent, Beowulf is pleased with the glory given to him afterwards and continues to fight only to maintain the glory seeking he receives after completing his challenges.

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Towards the end of the Epic, Beowulf is older and wiser. Whilst his pride does not let him down about his battles, soon enough he encounters one who he will not be able to defeat. With his encounter with the dragon, it shows how mature he is. Just how anyone would be after growing up, Beowulf decides to reflect on the responsibilities of a king who does not just act for himself and his glorification, but also for the good of his people. As some people’s characteristics do not grow like their age, Beowulf’s ego and boastfulness continued to stay a part of him. Before they reach his opponents lair, his ego becomes more evident as he says,”What I mean to,here, no man but me / could hope to defeat this monster” () while reluctantly telling his own men, “ this fight is not yours / nor is it up to any man except me,” (2532-2533). Once he sets out to fight his battle with the dragon, Beowulf overlooks his own death, while being more concerned with his own fame and honor. As his weapons and armor fail him, Beowulf gracefully meets his end. Even after his hand in hand killing of the dragon, Beowulf continues to seek for glory. He pleads for his people to build a tower in his memory: “ It will loom on the horizon at Hronesness / and be a reminder among my people” (2804-2805). Beowulf wants to leave with his fame being known by everyone since a simple memory of him does not enough to please him.

Beowulf has always been a strong hero, yet each monster he faced helped contribute to the development of his own character. Pride is considered to be fueled by one’s accomplishments and self-esteem, yet his presence was not known by enough that he continuously accepted battles to gain more glory.

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The Meaning Of Pride In Beowulf. (2022, February 21). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 10, 2023, from
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