Beowulf is an epic poem that provides a perfect scenario for the comparison of a king to a hero. A king has the political obligation to protect the interests of his subjects. Furthermore, kings enjoy immense political support and state resources with which they protect the interests of their subjects (Heaney 44). A hero on the other hand is a member of the society who feels morally obliged to do good and protect the people at his private capacity and with his or her own limited resources. Heroes are admirable personalities who possess the strength and the zeal to do good and protect the people even though they have no obligation whatsoever to do so. Beowulf is one such character in the poem. He possesses goodness, evenness, loyalty, courteousness and bravery all of which make him an exemplary hero in the poem as the discussion below portrays.
The life of Beowulf provides a natural case study for the comparison of the qualities of a hero to those of a king. The fact that he later becomes king of Geats makes the comparison easier. Both as a citizen and later in the poem as a king, Beowulf embodies the selflessness of a hero as he fights to protect the people (Rumford 51). The poem begins with Grendel terrorizing the citizens of Danes. King Hrothgar is helpless as the monster terrorizes his subjects. In an act of both greatness and sacrifice, Beowulf offers to fight the monster. He succeeds in doing so without any weapon. Later, Grendel’s mother learns of her son’s death and decides to avenge his son. Before she can begin terrorizing the people as well, Beowulf kills her with a sword he finds in her liar.
In both cases above, Beowulf acted out of his own volition. He undertook a task that no one could take in the entire society. In doing this, he risks his life owing to the might of the two monsters. He does so nonetheless thereby not only portraying his extraordinary strength but also his zeal to protect the people. Such was a show of bravery and selflessness that introduces him as an admirable hero in the poem. An ideal hero does not limit his acts of bravery and courage to his own home (Nye 61). Additionally, an ideal hero does not use his skills and might to serve his own interests. The case above is one that presents Beowulf as an ideal hero. No one begs him to fight Grendel. Not even King Hrothgar summons him. Instead, he offers to fight the monster thereby restoring peace in the kingdom.
When he becomes king later in the poem, he rules his kingdom peaceful thereby creating a large yet cohesive kingdom. At one time, a fire-breathing dragon attacks his kingdom. The King offers to fight the dragon. He killed it thereby restoring the peace and stability in his kingdom. Unfortunately, he dies from a lethal bite. The life of Beowulf shows great sacrifice as he dies in his attempt to save and protect his people. He does those not as a king but as the hero he is.
Beowulf is therefore an ideal hero and king to the people of Geats. His personality traits complement his position as a king thereby making an admirable king and a hero to the people. Comparing Beowulf to the modern day kings and leaders reveals a major discrepancies most of which are in personal traits (Ebbutt 78). Beowulf’s motivation was to protect his people. He therefore served them by protecting them from beasts among many other social ills. He does this voluntarily and does not ask any compensations. Such is a major discrepancy with the modern day leaders and kings whose desire for financial gain makes them override the basic liberties their subjects enjoy (Liuzza 90). Modern day Kings do not portray the selflessness and bravery that Beowulf portrayed in his desire to serve his people. His death arose from a risky endeavor in which he offered to fight a dragon. Such is a major contrast with modern day leaders who have elaborate personal security and drive in heavily guarded convoys.
While the plot of the story portrays Beowulf as an ideal hero who sacrifices and continues to do good for his people, just with any human he has numerous weaknesses. Key among such is pride. Beowulf offered to fight the monster on his own in the portrayal of the pride. Furthermore, he often took all the credit for the deeds. While king, he fought the monster alongside his army. Despite such, he takes all the credit. This portrays his greed besides his pride.
The life and deeds of Beowulf typify those of Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad AlThani, the Emir of Qatar. Sheikh Tamim is a generous and selfless ruler whose deeds and concerns for his people continue to motivate him to develop the country. He is a visionary leader that tackles the modern day problems with wisdoms. He protects the interests of his people thereby safeguarding the posterity of the country. His pride continues to enhance his development agenda for the country thereby informing the investment decisions he makes.
Beowulf is indeed a prideful hero and not just a reflection of the period. Such features as bravery, selflessness and courteousness are personality traits and not reliant on any period. Beowulf exhibited these features and sought to serve his people with the little resources he had. When extrapolated to the modern times, Beowulf would be an ideal leader and remain a hero by portraying the same virtuous personality traits in his desire to serve and lead his people.
Ebbutt, M I. Hero Myths & Legends of the British Race. Sweden: Ulwencreutz Media, 2008. Print.
Heaney, Seamus. Beowulf: A New Verse Translation. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2000. Print.
Liuzza, R M. Beowulf. Peterborough, Ont: Broadview, 1999. Print.
Nye, Robert. Beowulf: A New Telling. New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers, 1968. Internet resource.
Rumford, James. Beowulf: A Heros Tale Retold. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co, 2007. Print.