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Heroism in Beowulf and Macbeth

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  1. Introduction
  2. Beowulf's honor
  3. Beowulf's victory
  4. Chance of redemption
  5. Guilt of Macbeth's actions
  6. Conclusion

Grendel first appeared in Herot, the mead hall of the king of the Danes, Hrothgar. Disturbed by the feasting and celebration taking place in the evenings by Danish warriors and heroes, who often met in the hall to tell exaggerated tales of glory and drink mead, Grendel stole in during the night and tore the men and hall to pieces, leaving the hall in chaos. He continued these actions, night after night, with no man able to defend the hall against his wrath. This became a problem for the Danes, since the newly built hall of their king was repeatedly being trespassed and sacked by a single creature, and so Hrothgar called in heroes to deal with the problem. Thus, word of these vicious assaults eventually reached Beowulf, a Geatish warrior, who decides to try his luck at slaying Grendel, with a select group of his fellow warriors.

[...] To some degree every man deserves mercy, and a hero will always recognize this and act accordingly, as the situation merits, which, in some cases, it does not. A hero will put those values for which he stands above his own life. This quality itself earns the man such great respect that common men cannot help but admire him, if only for his ability to endure hardships not for something physical, but for a simple concept, such as freedom, justice, or liberty. [...]


[...] The ability to make that judgment requires such utter devotion that it must either be entirely malicious, and act of hatred, revenge, or mental instability, or a matter of justice, in which case the ending of another's life would save more lives, or, perhaps, a more important one. Although clearly these words are not being thoroughly reviewed, you may have noticed that I explained my belief that no man is as worthless and evil as to require that he be permanently removed from this world with no chance of redemption, i.e. [...]

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