He does not make cursory decisions, and has carefully planned out strategies, to carry out his attacks against his foes. Ultimately, Beowulf’s main strength is his physical stature, but his discerning actions complement him as he ends up victorious in his battles against Grendel, Grendel Dam, and the dragon. A large portion of the poem is centered on a monster named Grendel, who terrorizes the great Danish mead hall of Herot.
After Grendel had feasted on the Danes for twelve long years, the warriors give up and even the king’s council “made heathen vows, hoping for Hell’s Support” and “the Devil’s guidance in driving Their affliction off” (l 91-93, 27). When Beowulf hears about the disturbance, he shows that he is intrepid by asking for permission to fight for the Danes. He does not make a perfunctory choice; instead, he patiently waits and “ to the voice of wisdom” (Renoir 1). The sagacious elders tell Beowulf that “the omens good, And they the adventure on” (l 118-119, 27).
Furthermore, he exhibits his wisdom by his technique of defeating Grendel. When Grendel comes to eat the men of the mead hall, Beowulf pretends to be asleep because he knows that Grendel only attacks during the nighttime. As they engage in battle, Beowulf displays his physical strength. Even Grendel, a ferocious monster, realizes that “nowhere on earth Had he met a man whose hands were harder” (l 326-327, 33). The greatest attribute of Beowulf is shown when he tears off the arm of Grendel as he does not need to use any weapons at all to defeat “hell’s captive” (l 363, 34).
Only Beowulf could have accomplished this feat, “who of all the men on earth Was the strongest” (l 364-365, 34). To reiterate, while all the other Danes could not defeat Grendel for twelve long years, Beowulf easily mutilated Grendel in one short night. Even though Beowulf’s accomplishment is remarkable, his glory is short lived. Grendel’s mother, in retaliation for her son’s fatal wound, kills the closest friend of the Dane’s king. With little time to prepare, Beowulf accepts the challenge, and heads to face Grendel Dam in an unknown territory underwater.
When Beowulf fights Grendel Dam, he is saved by his circumspect preparation of wearing chain mail to protect him. Grendel Dam “Tried to work her fingers through the tight Ring-woven mail on his breast, but tore And scratched in vain” as Beowulf clung onto his life (l 477-479, 41). He luckily discovers a sword that has been hammered by giants, but it is “so massive that no ordinary man could lift Its carved and decorated length” (l 533-534, 42). Thus, the epic shows just how strong Beowulf is.
It is quite evident to the reader that he is no ordinary man, but has the power of numerous men as shown by the lifting of the giant-made sword. Moreover, the whole time he is fighting with Grendel Dam, he is underwater. This feat clearly shows how strongly built Beowulf is, not only in muscles and strength, but in his capability to hold his breath for such a long period of time as well. In Beowulf’s final battle, the reader truly gets to see the competitive fire in his heart.
Even as an elderly man, Beowulf risks his life for his people, by going against a fierce fire-breathing dragon. However, Beowulf knows this dragon is far superior to Grendel Dam, and goes into action with protective gear, a shield, and his faithful sword to prepare himself for the dragon’s fiery flames. His mental tenacity is exposed when he stands “firm, unmoving, prepared” to face his challenger (l 678, 45). Although he cannot defeat the dragon by himself, he still lives through the fight, displaying his physical stamina even at his old age.
Throughout the epic poem of Beowulf, Beowulf is victorious again and again, due to his combination of mental and physical powers. He is the epitome of a hero that has wisdom, courage, and strength. No matter how difficult the challenge is, he is always ready to try and overcome it. Failure is not an option for Beowulf, and even with the odds against him, he miraculously finds a way to end up on top Since Beowulf has the uniqueness of having both mental and physical strengths, he is unquestionably an ideal hero.