The Importance of Being Noble

255 views 7 pages ~ 1749 words
Get a Custom Essay Writer Just For You!

Experts in this subject field are ready to write an original essay following your instructions to the dot!

Hire a Writer

Ancestral Lineage and the Significance of Nobility

An individual who is born into nobility is distinguished above the common and graced with certain titles and privileges (Lukowski 1). In Essence, a man who is born noble is considered to be above other men, and is advantaged due to his title and inheritance. Thus, there is a great significance of being born of an ancestral lineage. This is principally because nobility gives an individual connections and the necessary resources to start in life. Bengtsson et al reveal that in European societies, the nobility registered very strong economic positions especially in the eighteenth century. Due to this, the noble families wielded a lot of political power in their countries (2). Thus, being born into a noble family translated to one being automatically powerful, wealthy and a respected member of the society. Therefore, being noble, one is guaranteed of the freedom to pursue one’s desires and ambitions. This is the primary reason that makes individuals from noble families become successful members of the society, even in their own right.

The Significance of Nobility in Beowulf’s Case

Beowulf, a hero in the epic poem "Beowulf" which was written in the Scandinavian period, is a man who was born into a war nobility (Newton 20). Essentially, the birth of Beowulf into a war nobility greatly influences his success as a soldier and a hero. It is revealed that Beowulf was the son of Ecgtheow, a noble soldier who had been gifted with a wife from Hrethel the Greath (Heaney 12). Upon his birth and upbringing, Beowulf is thus taken in by his grandfather Hrethel into the royal household. It is under his grandfather’s house that Beowulf learns the ways of the sword, and trains himself to become a capable swordsman. This history is derived from Hrothgar, the King of the Danes who had suffered the misfortune of a being a target by the evil being, Grendel, who wreaks havoc in the kingdom. Upon foreseeing defeat, Hrothgar enrolls the help brave men, and sends his messenger Wulfgar to procure them (Heaney 12). Majorly, Hrothgar enrolled the help of mercenaries due to his incapacitation to deal with the demonic Grendel by himself. Upon its arrival, the Grendel had grasped at least thirty men, killed them, and threw the butchered corpses outside the window (Heaney 5). Thus, Hrothgar wakes up to find himself with no guards, and this makes him to be greatly traumatized. The significance of being born into an ancestral lineage is shown when Beowulf is first mentioned to Hrothgar by his servant. It seemed that the King of the Danes was reluctant of the news, until Wulfgar mentioned to him that the man leading the people of Geatland, who had availed themselves for the purpose of lending their swords to Hrothgar was none other than Beowulf (Heaney 12). The servant also adds that the men seemed well-born. It is thus the mentioning of the status of the men and their leader that made Hrothgar to consider them, proving that in the ancient times, it was of great importance for one to be born into nobility. Beowulf was described as a very bold soldier, who was rumored to have the strength of thirty men in the grip of each hand (Heaney 12). Yet it is his nobility that leads to the acceptance of his services as the King views him as an old friend, due to his father’s connections with the king.

The Desire for Fame and Achieving Goals through Nobility

As a rising hero, Beowulf greatly desired the opportunity to bring forth fame to his name. As aforementioned, nobility gives an individual the tools to achieving one’s desires and ambitions. Upon being announced by Wulfgar, Beowulf retreats to the chambers with the King of Danes, and he entreats the king that he should be the one to Kill the demonic Grendel, and purify Heorot (Heaney 13). The king, Hrothgar, announces to Beowulf that his father Ecgtheow had once stirred a fight when he killed Heatholof of the Wulfing. In the ensuing war, the king’s brother, Heorogar, perished. The Wulfing were at last pacified when the King of Danes paid treasures to them. This led to the houses of Hrothgar and that of Ecgtheow striking an important friendship. Since Hrothgar had greatly helped Beowulf’s father, Ecgtheow swore oaths of allegiance to Hrothgar. Beowulf thus uses this knowledge to further entreat the king to let him be the man to face the fearful creature, and Hrothgar, the king finally agrees. In this context, it is again proven that being of noble roots is of great significance in furthering one’s career. Of essence with nobility is that it cultivates special ties between respectable houses. Once the ties have thus been established, the forthcoming generations can benefit from them.

The Rewards and Ascension to Power

Upon facing Grendel, Beowulf becomes extremely successful, despite the savageness of the great beast, which could not have been killed by anything that was made of steel. The killing of Grendel brought a lot of honor to Beowulf, who was rewarded by the king himself, Hrothgar (Heaney 24). The King also saw it sufficient to adopt Beowulf as his son, as well as accepting him into the society of the Danes despite him being from the land of Geat. Beowulf was thus gifted with many treasures, among them, eight horses which had gold bridles (Heaney 32). These suggestions by Hrothgar and his friends towards Beowulf were multi-faceted. At first, the great hero, Beowulf, had saved Heorot. Thus, Hrothgar, who was the ruler at the time, felt grateful towards Beowulf. However, as aforementioned, Beowulf was given great respect and reward because he had royal blood in him, having descended from the line of Hrethel, the great ruler of Geat. Beowulf, being a hero, reaped great reward, praise, and respect. Although these achievements had been facilitated by his act of killing the villainous Grendel, Beowulf still owed much of these achievements to his ancestry, for it is the name of this father, Ecgtheow, and the legacy of his grandfather, Hrethel, that had made it possible for him to convince Hrothgar to avail the opportunity of facing the evil Grendel. Thus, it can be conjectured that nobility aids one in climbing through the hierarchy of power and authority. As such, one may arise from an inferior rank to a superior one, through connections such as marriage, adoption, as well as friendships. In the case of Beowulf, who had a great desire of being a hero, his nobility roots chart a different path for him than he is expected. This is because after being adopted by Hrothgar, and the virtue of Hrothgar’s wife accepting her husband’s decision, Beowulf is thrust into the proximities of power, making him a potentially influential individual both in the land of Danes and Geat. Since Beowulf is now a son of a great man, the hero is at the verge of being a ruler himself, courtesy of the attack that was orchestrated by Grendel’s mother upon getting the news that her son had been mercilessly butchered by the Danes. In anger, Grendel’s mother forges an attack at Heorot, while Beowulf and his men, who had just received presents, were away (Heaney 33).

The Ascension to Kingship

The epitome of the significance of nobility is finally proven when at last, it becomes possible for Beowulf to ascend to the throne of his homeland, upon returning to Geatland (Heaney 76). There were many evils which had been conducted by the King’s son, who at last suffered mortal wounds from Beowulf himself. It might be possible to conjecture that Beowulf’s ascending to the Geatland throne was facilitated by the fact that he had been a valorous soldier. However, this is not principally the case as nobility had played a great role in ensuring that the great man became a king in his own right. In essence, nobility provided Beowulf with the chance to prove himself to the world that he was worthy to rule. It was nobility which made it possible for Beowulf to be accepted by Hrothgar and thus given the chance to kill Grendel as well as his vengeful mother. It was also nobility that led to the praise of Beowulf, having been greatly rewarded with treasures and horses by the Danes. Thus, when Beowulf returned to Geatland, he was able to ascend to his grandfather’s throne, having earlier won the hearts of his subjects.


As seen in "Beowulf" by Heaney, nobility plays a critical role in the success of an individual in society. Essentially, nobility privileges an individual with wealth, power, respect, and authority in society. Given these essentials, an individual is thus strengthened to achieve his goals and ambitions. In the case of Beowulf, the fact that he was a grandchild of Hrethel the Greath and the son of Ecgtheow played an important role in his success, which culminated in him becoming the King of the Geat people. It was these connections that made him be accepted by Hrothgar when the opportunity presented itself. Also, his apparent success in defeating and killing both Grendel and his mother were related to his nobility. Essentially, nobility shaped Beowulf to become the valorous gentleman the world had come to know. By the age of seven, the young Beowulf had been taken in by his grandfather into the family. Considering that the family was a war nobility, Beowulf learned swordsmanship from great people. Beowulf’s father had been a noble soldier, as it is later revealed. Thus, it becomes undeniable that nobility plays a critical role in an individual’s success. Had Beowulf not been born into a royal family, he would not have become an excellent swordsman as he was. Also, when Beowulf had presented himself to Hrothgar, the King of the Danes, it would have been difficult for him to be accepted, in the absence of his connections. In conclusion, Beowulf is a product of his nobility.

Works Cited

Beowulf: A New Verse Translation. Translated by Seamus Heaney. Norton, 2000.

Bengtsson, Erik. , Olsson, Mats. , Missiaia, Anna. , Svensson, Patrick. “The Wealth of the Richest: Inequality and Nobility in Sweeden, 1759-1900. Working Paper, Accessed on November 30, 2018.

Lukowski, Jerzy. “The European Nobility in the Eighteenth Century: Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003. Print.

Newton, Sam. The Origins of Beowulf: and the Pre-Viking Kingdom of East Anglia. Suffolk: Ds Brewer, 2004. Print.

November 24, 2023

Life Literature



Subject area:

Literature Review

Number of pages


Number of words




Writer #



Expertise Literature Review
Verified writer

Tony is a caring and amazing writer who will help you with anything related to English literature. As a foreign exchange student, I received the best kind of help. Thank you so much for being there for me!

Hire Writer

This sample could have been used by your fellow student... Get your own unique essay on any topic and submit it by the deadline.

Eliminate the stress of Research and Writing!

Hire one of our experts to create a completely original paper even in 3 hours!

Hire a Pro