Beowulf by Gareth Hinds is graphic novel based on the AngloSaxon epic from 1000 A. D. This work tells the story of a warriorprince named Beowulf, who completes various heroic tasks throughout the epic story. How to Read Literature like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster teaches the reader the real qualities and characteristics it takes to be a true hero in literature. In his quests Beowulf proves that he is a true hero in literature. In chapter 1 of How to Read Literature like a Professor, Thomas C. Foster explains how the quest of a hero works in literature.
The quest consists of five things (a) a quester, (b) a place to go, (C) a stated reason to go there, (d) challenges and trials en route, (e) a real reason to go there (Foster 3). In Beowulf’s first quest he is the quester and his place to go is hall Heorot. The stated reason to go there is to defeat Grendel with his bare hands and the challenges and trials are Grendel killing the other soldiers and fighting the Grendel with no weapons. Beowulf eventually does defeat the Grendel with no weapons and Beowulf now is looked upon as the mightiest of all warriors.
Beowulfs next quest is to find and track Grendel’s mother back to her lair. On this quest too Beowulf faces obstacles, such as sea monsters along the way. Beowulf eventually finds Grendel’s mother lair and beheads her. Beowulf’s last quest unquestionably proves Beowulf to be a true hero. This last quest comes when Beowulf is an elderly king unlike his first two quests when he is a youthful warrior. Being elderly alone is a challenge in this quest also he is limited on men and supplies, “None have I left to lift the sword or to cleanse the carven drinking-cup.
In this last quest Beowulf and eleven of his men are faced up against a rueful dragon. Beowulf decides that he will not risk the lives of his men, instead he will fight the dragon all by himself. “One of these two things must be: either I will carry away his treasure or death at last will fund me… “(Hinds 84). This quote shows how Beowulf is not selfish or a coward and is willing to die for his men even though he is of a higher rank. This is a quality that any real hero must have, an unselfish nature. Beowulf defeats the dragon but is wounded in this fight and is accepting of the fact that he will die.
In this last quest though Beowulf dies, he now realizes that the real reason for these quests is to save the lives of many people. Beowulf says, “Fifty years have I watched over my people, nor has any ruler of the nations round about dared to cross my borders with hostile purpose… For all these things, though I am mortally wounded, glad am I. ” This quote shows how Beowulf truly is a hero, because even though he is dying, he is glad. He is glad that he was able to save many lives, protect his nation, and never falsely swear on an oath.
In chapter 10 of How to Read Literature like a Professor Thomas C. Foster explains how in order to keep the plot flowing people must die instead of the hero. “The plot needs something to happen in order to move forward, so someone must be sacrificed. That ‘someone’ is rarely the protagonist” (Foster 84). This quote shows how someone must be sacrificed in order to continue the plot. In Beowulf there is a good example of this. When Aeschere is killed Beowulf says, “Tis better for a man to avenge his friends death than to spend his days lamenting.
This quote leads to Beowulf’s next quest, which is to kill Grendel’s mother. Without the death of Aeschere the plot would be stuck with no flow to Beowulf’s next quest. This shows how Beowulf can be classified as a hero in literature. Lastly, Beowulf is a hero because he was never afraid to die for the purpose of his quest, multiple times he said he was either to die or achieve his goal. Some may believe that Beowulf is not a hero for multiple reasons. One of these reasons can be that people believe that Beowulf went on these quests for the treasure or accolades.
Another reason can be that Beowulf dies on his last quest, which is very unlike a hero. Foster states that the hero is rarely the one to be sacrificed for the plot, in which this case Beowulf does die. Although, Beowulf does die he realizes that his life has saved the lives of many others. He sacrificed himself to save the lives of other people, which is one of the most heroic things possible to do. Beowulf never asked King Hrogthar what he would get for defeating the Grendel, instead he did it to save the lives of others. This shows how he does not go on his quests for the treasure or the accolades.
Beowulf has every quality there is to have for a literary hero. He is unselfish and completed quests that in the end made him a wiser person. Beowulf was in all his quests risking his own life to save the lives of others, it wasn’t until he was dying that he realized this. Before his epiphany he believed the real reason for his quests was just to accomplish them, this shows how Beowulf is a dynamic character because he changes from beginning to end of the epic. Beowulf is glad as he is dying because he now knows of all the good he has done.