What Is Bravery?

1 January 2017

Bravery is having or displaying a sense of courage as well as being a daring individual. It is also a person who lacks the qualities of being cowardly or timid. Throughout history most great leaders showed that they were very brave individuals through their actions and as well as the way they carried themselves. They didn’t allow what other people or forces said dictate their actions. Leaders that show high levels of this characteristic fight for what they believe in, even if it results in their own death.

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A story and character that demonstrates these characteristics pretty well is Beowulf. Beowulf was an altruistic individual who ended up giving up his life in order to saver other people’s lives. Beowulf also showed zero fear when dealing with the different circumstances he was forced into as well as the situations he put himself into. Another story that shows examples of an individual being brave is the poem Battle of Maldon. This poem was based on real events that took place in England somewhere around 900AD. The story is about a battle between a group of Vikings and a group of men defending England.

This poem shows multiple examples of bravery, but does this story show the same consistency as Beowulf? There are some similarities between the two stories but do their examples of bravery add up between each other to be considered consistent. I personally believe that theme of bravery is ultimately the same between the two poets. Both stories give a great representation of bravery throughout their stories. The first example that shows similarity between the two stories is the leader as well as the main character in the story is an altruistic individual.

Beowulf, the leader and main character in the Beowulf, and Byrhtnoth, the leader and main character in the Battle of Maldon, both ended up dying in battle for what they believed in and they both went own fighting. Beowulf shows this this type of bravery when he goes and fights the dragon that has been terrorizing his town close to the end of the story. Even though he knows the dragon is probably going to kill him before he starts to battle it, he is willing to give his life in order to keep his people safe. This also represents a warriors most honorable death.

Byrhtnoth shows the same altruistic behavior by not retreating when the Vikings try to overtake them. Byrhnoth ends up getting stabbed a couple of times but he continues to fight for his people. As the last blow strikes his body he knows he is dying with honor and bravery. Both of these examples show a high characteristic in bravery and both show equal amounts of consistency in the bravery department up to this point. The second example that involves bravery that I chose has to deal with the people that were willing to follow their leaders into battle.

It takes a brave individual to go into battle knowing that their either out numbered or that they are completely outmatched. In Beowulf their was a group of warriors from Geatland that followed Beowulf on his adventures and helped him get out of different situations . One of the notable situations i recall is when Beowulf and his men are in Heorot Hall and Grendel shows up to kill. The men are scared and some start to get killed but they show bravery by standing by Beowulf’s side whenever he tries and attacks and eventually takes down Grendel. In the Battle of Maldon a similar situation occurs when the Vikings start to come on shore.

Byrhtnoth ordered his men to line up at the shore line in order to hinder the Vikings from coming on shore. This is a brave and risky task because the Vikings are using spears and arrows so they won’t have to get very close to hurt them. The fact that the men took those orders without hesitation shows that have a high quality trait in bravery, and they trust their leader in this tough situation. The third example that I felt belonged in this discussion was what some of the men did after their leader died. In the end of Beowulf there is a great dragon that starts terrorizing Geatland because of a disturbance in his lair.

Before Beowulf goes and tries to kill the dragon, he goes and gathers eleven of his best men from Geatland. Before they leave Beowulf informs his men that it is an extremely big chance that he might die. Once they get to the dragons lair Beowulf goes to face the dragon by himself and ends up dying from a bite from the dragon. When this happens ten of the eleven men decide to act cowardly and run away from the fight, but one man named Wiglaf stays and fights the dragon by his lonesome and ends up killing the dragon. This act that Wiglaf does one of the bravest and loyal things an individual can do in that situation.

Wigalf could have run away with the rest of the men but he decided to stay and show honor and bravery by killing the dragon after it killed his leader. In the Battle of Maldon the same thing basically happened when their leader Byrhtnoth went down. As the tides started to shift in battle when Olaf’s men started getting on shore and some of Byrhtnoth men decided to flee. When a small group of his men decided to retreat more and more followed because they thought that was the signal to retreat but it really wasn’t. The men that started running away first were Gordic and his brothers, and that triggered the reaction to the rest of the men.

Even though most of the men ran, a couple of men decided to be honorable and brave and fight until death. I think this theme of bravery is the most important theme that I have given thus far. It also goes along with my second example but this theme shows more bravery, courageousness and more honor because they are fighting for their fallen leader. It takes a strong willed and an extremely brave individual to stay and fight when their leader and strongest person has fallen and there is now no one there to give them orders in battle. This theme shows up a lot in different stories and movies in today’s world.

A more up to date example of this is in the Star Wars series. In a couple of the movies the main Jedi, the leader, dies and the Padawan has to step up to the plate and fight the enemy by himself instead of running away like a lot of people would do in the same situation. The fourth example that demonstrates bravery is the daringness and boldness each leader shows towards their enemy. Each leader did something out of the ordinary when it came to battle. In Beowulf, Beowulf decides to chase Grendel’s mother all the way back to her underwater lair to kill her.

I think this move is one of the boldest moves I’ve ever read in a story. The fact that Beowulf trusted his breath holding ability in battle against a beast like Grendel’s mother puts me in awe. Grendel’s mother would already be hard enough to fight alone, but add on the fact that its under water and add the fact that none of Beowulf’s weapons work on Grendel’s mother shows that Beowulf is an extremely daring individual and that he really isn’t scared in any situation. In the battle of Maldon, Byrhtnoth also does something that doesn’t quite make sense but shows how much of a brave and daring individual he is.

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