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English 12 H Emily Closson

Beowulf Paper

Franklin Deleanor Roosevelt’s statement “The only thing we have to fear is

fear itself” shows the essential characteristic that sets a hero apart from the general

public: his ability to recognize fear and overcome it. This characteristic is better

known as courage. Marshall Kane and Beowulf both exhibit courage but in different

ways. Kane’s modesty disguises his courage where as Beowulf’s courage is obvious.

In “High Noon” Marshall Kane’s courage is center stage when he turn’s his

wagon around to back to save the town of Hadleyville from Frank Miller and his

gang. He knows full well that Frank is coming back to try and kill him and he’ll have

three members of his original gang with him, but that doesn’t stop Kane. He pushes

his fear of death aside and head’s back despite his fear for his life. If the movie had

been different, and it had been Harvey that Miller was after, Harvey would’ve ridden

right out of town without any second thoughts or qualms about it. That’s what

distinguishes a hero from a regular member of society, the ability to swallow your

fear and do what is right and necessary.

Fear is a man’s greatest weakness and greatest obstacle to overcome in life.

The ability to conquer your fears when people are looking for someone to “save the

day” is one of the hardest hurdles to clear in an emergency. It is easier for someone to

become a victim rather than a survivor. This characteristic is not something one can
learn in their lifetime; it is something instilled at birth. Heroes emerge in a time of

crisis because their courage and naturally selfless disposition are what people are

desperately searching for when fear has struck them and they’ve lost hope in all else.

Fear’s greatest talent is forcing people to bow to it’s every whim and wish.

Fear has the ability to manipulate people to limits they did not believe were

possible. Mothers can be turned into killers, Priests can be turned into thieves, and

best friends can be turned into enemies. Fear brings out the best in heroes, and the

worst in the rest of society. Fear has the ability to unite or divide entire nations.

Hadleyville was united by fear in “High Noon”. Unfortunately for Marshall Kane,

they were united against him. Their fear of the repercussions that may occur when

bullets began to fly that afternoon held them back from helping one of their dear

friends. People that had been loyal to him suddenly disappeared. The reaction of

people in Beowulf is quite the opposite. Beowulf’s tribe of geats was united by the

underlying fear they all had for Grendel. The citizens of Heoret were divided by fear,

and you know what they say “united we stand divided we fall.” If the people who lost

their lives in the great feasting hall had banded together, would they have had a

chance fighting against Grendel? Would their fear even exist if they all united?

When Marshall Kane went to the church to ask for help he left with nothing

even though a handful of citizens felt it was the obligation of Hadleyville to repay

Kane for his services to the town. Because the town came together, those who felt

they should help went with the decision of the rest of the community instead of

standing up and doing what was right. The unition of the citizens of Hadleyville

helped to diminish their fears, if but only a small amount. However, their fear was
still to great for them, as ordinary people, to be able to conquer it. In Beowulf, the

citizen’s fear was too great for them to even unite against Grendel. Thus making any

struggle they could muster useless against his enormous power. The role of fear in a

hero’s decision to help instead of be helped is huge.

Heroes are ordinary, good people on a day-to-day basis. When something

happens to make a day infamous in the lives of many, heroes are the ones who stand

up and help even though they are scared. Their heroism is something that is with

them always, but it goes unnoticed until a situation is stripped down to its lowest form

possible. Fear isn’t as tough as it seems, but more often then not people take the easy

road of succumbing to it rather than standing up and doing what, on any other day

with any other circumstance, they would normally do. Fear separates the genuine

from the fake, the religious from the non-believers, and the victims from the

survivors. Fear can bring the strongest man to his knees and the smallest child to the

rescue. Fear separates man from mouse and the good from the not so good. Fear

makes men into heroes…or does it?