Selfishness in the Act of Service Essay

Arriving on the Danish shore, with an heir of pride and honor, Beowulf swiftly leads his men up the countryside to Heorot. He is eager to rid the Danes of their misery. He believes that he is the answer who will defeat Grendel. Because this challenge is so dangerous, it terrifies many warriors, but it entices Beowulf to attempt it (Core 7). As we read, we cannot help but think how honorable it is for him to use his gifts to help others, but as we quickly see this is not all about helping the Danes. Beowulf is also gaining something for himself. He is helping himself gain a legacy and he is showing off his great mental and physical power.

As soon as he arrives at Heorot, he tells king Hrothgar of his experience fighting against water-monsters. He describes how he will defeat Grendel with his famous handgrip. Unferth challenges Beowulf, and ridicules his week-long swimming match against Breca, which he lost. Beowulf reminds him that they were boys when they challenged each other, and that he lost the contest because sea monsters, which he defeated, attacked him. He also adds that he saved Breca’s life in the process.

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Before going to sleep that night, Beowulf removes his armor and puts away his sword. He says that he will not use any weapons to fight Grendel. He boasts that he does not consider himself any weaker than Grendel. He goes on to defeat the monster and rip his arm out of his socket. He is praised for his triumph and envied for his courage.

Then, Grendel’s mother comes and terrorizes Heorot hall. Beowulf’s victory celebration is cut short. He is determined to rid the Danes of all harm. He follows the blood of Grendel to the swamp where the monsters live. He dives into the scalding water and defeats the remaining fiend. After the victory, which is very long and which some believe has killed Beowulf, there is happiness and relief (Core 9). After returning to Heorot, he tells everyone of his success. He mentions that Unferth’s sword was useless in the battle and he was able to retrieve an ancient sword, which he used to defeat the monster. It seems that for Beowulf the harder the battles become, the more powerful Beowulf’s strength grows (Core 8).

In the end, Beowulf’s own kingdom is threatened by a dragon. It seeks revenge for a golden cup stolen from among its many treasures. Beowulf, who believes that he can defeat the fire dragon on his own, is eventually killed by beast, but not without ending it’s life first (Core 6). He orders Wiglaf to build a high tomb at the sea’s edge and call it Beowulf’s Burrow to remind everyone of his fearless courage. He wants fishermen to look at it for inspiration when they are on the sea.

Beowulf helped many people, but not without letting everyone know of his many strengths and his amazing skill. After all of the battles he has fought and after all the people he has helped, Beowulf died knowing his own strength and wanting other people to remember it. He wanted to gain epic immortality. This he did, and we still read about him today. Beowulf will continue to be a hero, amazing to some and selfish to others (Core 10).

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