Beowulf Bravery Quotes: Examples & Analysis Video

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  • 0:00 Courage Considered in Beowulf
  • 1:47 Courage in Battle
  • 3:38 The Baton Is Passed
  • 4:42 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Susan Nagelsen

Susan has directed the writing program in undergraduate colleges, taught in the writing and English departments, and criminal justice departments.

There is no doubt about Beowulf's bravery; it is well documented throughout this incredible epic poem. In this lesson, we'll look at this documentation of bravery and consider its importance.

Courage Considered in Beowulf

In the beginning of Beowulf, we hear the main character, Beowulf, setting the stage for our understanding of the importance of bravery for the Danes. We are told that in all the stories that have been passed down, from the beginning of time to now, the rulers have all had courage, bravery and greatness.

Beowulf says, 'So. The Spear-Danes in days gone by and the kings who ruled them had courage and greatness. We have heard of those princes' heroic campaigns.'

Early in the poem, Beowulf also makes the claim that if your fate has not been sealed by God, you can affect the outcome of your life through courage and determination. This serves as foreshadowing for events to follow.

'Often, for undaunted courage, fate spares the man it has not already marked.'

Beowulf doesn't just talk about bravery in general terms, however, but also uses specific incidents to underscore his point. He takes great pleasure in explaining to everyone that when an evaluation of the swimming contest with Breca is made, he should be considered the winner because he and he alone survived after fighting eight sea monsters in the icy sea water. He suggests that Breca would never have survived this kind of an assault; it was Beowulf's own bravery that saved him.

When Unferth speaks about Beowulf dishonorably, he is reminded that if you live in glass houses you should not throw stones. Unferth has not done anything courageous, so he shouldn't dare to speak disparagingly about Beowulf.

'The fact is, Unferth, if you were truly as keen and courageous as you claim to be Grendel would never have got away with such unchecked atrocity, attacks on your king, havoc in Heorot and horrors everywhere.'

Courage in Battle

When Beowulf is called upon to rid mead hall of the monster Grendel, who had been on the rampage for the past twelve years, he lets it be known that he will do so with his bare hands.

'I have heard moreover that the monster scorns in his reckless way to use weapons; therefore, to heighten Hygelac's fame and gladden his heart, I hereby renounce sword and the shelter of the broad shield, the heavy war-board: hand-to-hand is how it will be, a life-and-death fight with the fiend.'

Beowulf announces to all who will listen that he will use only his strength and his bravery to rid mead hall of this monster who has been plaguing them for so long.

When fighting Grendel, Beowulf exerts his immense strength and shows how brave he is as he comes face to face with the monster, making Grendel long for a way out.

'The captain of evil discovered himself in a handgrip harder than anything he had ever encountered in any man on the face of the earth. Every bone in his body quailed and recoiled, but he could not escape. He was desperate to flee to his den and hide with the devil's litter, for in all his days he had never been clamped or cornered like this.'

In what is the last battle of his life, Beowulf intends to take on the dragon just has he did Grendel: one on one.

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