Beowulf And The Hero's Journey

The Call To Adventure

The Tests and Trials Stage

The Apotheosis Stage

The Return Stage

In the epic, a story is told about a man who changes his original standpoint in society and becomes transformed into fulfilling what was foretold for him to become, a hero. The hero's journey maps out a quest that a person must encounter with or face in order to end his quest to spark up into a hero. Beowulf is an example of how this process works since the separation, initiation, and return stages plays a role in his heroic journey. In the story, Beowulf becomes a symbolic figure to a hope that affected the lives of people after the fall of Rome in Europe. Since he undergoes contemplation with fighting a fearsome beast and overcoming other obstacles, he already entered the hero's journey, but must use his utmost to become a hero. However, he cannot fulfill this task with his own strength or powers because he is not immortal, a demi god, or person with superhuman powers. The main purpose for the poem was to spread the ideas and beliefs of Christianity to people who wanted to overcome the corruption or falsehood of what Paganism put upon society during the Dark ages. In the other hand, Beowulf wasn't able to change the world and take the risk to save the Danes from Grendel and other monsters without a call to adventure. The Separation stage is about how a hero leaves his own, familiar world into a new and unfamiliar society that he has never experienced. before. Moreover, the separation stage begins with the call to adventure. The text begins with the funeral of Shield Sheafson and listing of his sons. In addition, the beginning of the story foretold that a new hero would erupt to become the hope of Denmark and a model of heroism, which gives a glimpse of the coming of Beowulf. When news comes to Geatland about the attacks and chaos, that is destroying the society of the Danes and people are dying, one man willingly steps up and takes the task to defeat Grendel and eliminate evil from Denmark. As a mighty warrior, Beowulf had the skills to fight in war and in addition, had the guidance of God to guard him and help him when struggles arise. According to the text, their was a half Dane who guided him, Hrothgar, who in the story, is described as a god like figure. Beowulf, as the leader of the army, was trying to seek honor and glory by coming to Denmark, but he knew that this wouldn't be an easy task to accomplish. The Call to Adventure occurred when Lord Hygelac, the king of the Geats, ordered an army to go to Heorot and assist Hrothgar in seeking to stop the destruction that Grendel is putting upon the people. Once him and his army past the coastguards and got to Heorot, the threshold stage begins to come about in his journey because not only does he not know about life in Denmark, but he doesn’t know who this Grendel is, how he's like, and what's to be expected when trying to fight this monster in battle. The threshold is the starting point of an experience, event, or venture when the hero enters the point between the known and unknown world. When Beowulf finally went to Heorot and realized the chaos or powerful demon that he would have to put up with and defeat, the threshold of his life occurred. The last stage of the separation during the hero's journey is when the hero receives guidance or assistance from a powerful being to help defeat Grendel and the monsters he will soon face. As clearly depicted, he has no help from his army because they are too afraid to face a devilish monster, but Hrothgar supports him with his “God-like holy spirit”. Hrothgar is described as God like, untouchable, a resister of evil, and more which clearly makes him a powerful being although he is not an actual God. Clearly, the separation stage in the hero's journey had an impact on the life of Beowulf. Although his separation comes to an end and is at that point of his life, the hero's journey is not over yet because here is where a hero must face tests and trials and begin his apotheosis in the initiation stage. The hero undergoes complete transformation and initiation when he at least faces the test and trials, atonement, and apotheosis stage of the hero's journey, but most face the remaining two as well, meeting of the goddess and woman as temptress. Beowulf experiences the tests and trials stage right when he begins stage 2 of the hero's journey. Beowulf must defeat Grendel in order to save the Danish society and restore peace in Denmark. After many struggles and blows that they put upon each other, Beowulf finally defeats Grendel by pulling off his arm and making him bleed to death. For a period of time, Hrothgar and the other people are enjoying the peace and the victory over Grendel, but another test is put before him, that is the vengeful mother of Grendel. In addition, when Beowulf kills her too, he must go back to his homeland and save the Geats from the dragon, that is causing havoc upon the Geats for the loss of its golden treasure. However, the stages in the transformation are going back in forth and are not in order because he faces the atonement when he encounter Grendel's mom and the apotheosis and atonement are both a role in the fight between Beowulf and the dragon. In addition, these are all still mixing with the tests and trials stage. The Apotheosis stage comes to play when he fights Grendel's mom because he must go threw many obstacles and kill beasts in order to enter her lair and kill her without the aid from his soldiers except for God's holy spirit. According to Christianity, water is considered holy because it's what you are baptized in and when you get out, it symbolizes your dedication to serve God and do good forever although imperfection may cause negativity to occur in life. However, it seems like in the past, water was viewed as dirty most likely because of sin and imperfection, which made it “dirty” spiritually. In the book, Beowulf defeats beasts in the water that resemble unclean practices mentioned in the Bible, but since in the past, water wasn't holy until later on, the monsters represented the dirtiness of the water. However, although Beowulf transforms after defeating Grendel’s mom and eliminating evil from Denmark to make him honorable and worthy of being called heroic, he still must face the second last stage of the initiation stage, atonement. To atone is defined as "to make amends or reparation, as for an offense or a crime, or for an offender". Beowulf had to experience atonement because by jumping into the water that led to Grendel's lair, he encountered sins that needed to be atoned for or else they will affect others in society by causing negativity and falsehood to spread. When he defeated Grendel's mom and got out of the water, he destroyed the Paganism and non-Christian teachings that were present in the world and it shows how Christianity changed the lives of people who were victims to false teachings and practices condemned in the Bible. Just like Hercules had to overcome 12 challenges to repay for his sins and the bloodguilt he received from killing his family, Beowulf had to begin his repentance, which in Christianity today, is the baptism or confession of sins to the priest. By accomplishing this task, Beowulf was transformed and therefore, entered the apotheosis stage of the hero’s journey. The apotheosis is when the hero transforms and becomes God like, which in the case of Beowulf, is when he symbolizes his repentance of sins and dedication to God through “water baptism”. By elevating or exalting into the rank of a god, Beowulf is capable now of understanding the known and unknown world and is able to begin his rebirth to the life he once knew. His next step is to return home and use what he learned from his quest to become stronger than he once was back in the known world. He is free to live life and is determined to overcome the problems that life throws at him. However, it seems like he returns to the second stage, not fully transformed because news comes when he finds out that a dragon is terrorizing the Geats. To defeat it, he must use his wisdom and power of God’s holy spirit to be able to defeat this monster and eliminate evil forever. Unfortunately, his heroic journey doesn't end happily, because after defeating the dragon, he dies from a fatal bite to his neck. In the return stage, Beowulf has the freedom to do whatever he decides to do with his knowledge, but it is clearly seen that destiny always affects a person's life because God chose for his life to end tragically and probably become resurrected in heaven as a messianic hero. Clearly, Beowulf is a great example and model to how heroism has an affect on society since he does his utmost to finish the race of life from start to finish. Ultimately, we can see how the hero's journey is evident in the character of Beowulf.

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