Beowulf Pride Quotes: Examples & Analysis

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  • 0:03 Mead Hall Revelations
  • 0:35 Pride of Self
  • 1:14 Pride of Prowess
  • 2:43 Pride of Reputation
  • 4:14 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.

In ''Beowulf,'' we see a variety of examples of pride. Their pride in surviving a battle, honoring the king, or supporting a devoted warrior is a badge of honor that demonstrates each person's importance to the plot.

Mead Hall Revelations

In Beowulf, an Old English epic poem about the conflict between good and evil, Danish warriors fresh from battle gather in the mead hall to share food, drink, companionship, and stories. The mead hall was a place where men had the opportunity to build each other and themselves up in the eyes of others. Here, they would take pride in sharing stories about their exploits. In many ways, the mead hall was like a school cafeteria where students engage in conversation, and friendships are made and destroyed.

Pride of Self

Beowulf, a great warrior, has great pride of self. When he first arrives at Heorot, King Hrothgar's mead hall, he's challenged by Unferth, a fellow warrior, who tells a story about a swimming contest between Beowulf and his childhood friend, Breca. He attempts to embarrass Beowulf by suggesting that he lost to Breca, but Beowulf will not sit still for that. He stands with his chest puffed out and says, 'But the truth is simple: no man swims in the sea as I can, no strength is a match for mine.' Beowulf's pride is clear to all. He truly believes he is the strongest swimmer.

Pride of Prowess

When Beowulf first considers taking on the monster Grendel, we hear him loudly proclaim his bravado: 'Grendel is no braver, no stronger than I am! I could kill him with my sword; I shall not, easy as it would be.' Beowulf knows that he can defeat this monster with his hand tied behind his back if he uses his sword, so he decides to up the ante. He will increase the difficulty and the reward. 'I will meet him with my hands empty-unless his heart fails him, seeing a soldier waiting weaponless, unafraid.' Beowulf wants all the men in the banquet hall to know that he is the bravest among them: he will defeat Grendel without his sword.

After Beowulf has defeated Grendel's mother as well, King Hrothgar warns Beowulf that too much pride is a dangerous thing. Hrothgar tells Beowulf that pride doesn't last: it can lead to a person's downfall. The King does not want to see that happen to Beowulf. He says, 'Do not give way to pride. For a brief while your strength is in bloom but it fades quickly.'

When Beowulf faces the dragon, he lets everyone know that he takes great pride in his abilities to face the foe in front of him. He will not run away from the fight. 'When he comes to me I mean to stand, not run from his shooting flames, stand till fate decides which of us wins.' Beowulf has no fear. He will happily allow fate to determine the outcome; however, it will be with the knowledge that he was a man who stood tall and did not back away from the enemy.

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