A tragic flaw, by definition, is a trait in a character, often the hero of the literary piece, that leads to his downfall. This trait is often pride, but could also be the lack of self-knowledge or lack of judgment. A tragic flaw is also seen as a weakness within the hero.
Beowulf is considered an epic hero due to his bravery having won him many battles, but his pride is his tragic flaw. This flaw in his character leads to his downfall, as well as him feeling nearly invincible. While pride is not his only flaw, it is the most prominent one.
Pride is, usually, explained to the protagonist by a friend or narrator, but Beowulf likes to show the world how important he is to them.
When he was a young boy Beowulf was seen as weak and small, he was made fun of and thought to never become famous. With a little help from Higlac and started his journey to fame, and his journey towards overwhelming pride.
Beowulf’s pride would eventually earn him more fame and recognition with each and every battle and monster he fought, making him more prideful and confident each time.
In the beginning his pride is not recognized as a flaw, in his search to become more famous his pride is seen more as an asset to be celebrated.
However, pride leads to his demise as he goes into a battle he was too old and too weak to fight, but he was blinded by his excessive pride. While he was fully aware that he was aging, “…His soul sensed how close fate Had come, felt something, not fear but knowledge Of old age. His armour was strong, but his arm Hung like his heart… his blood might be spilled His spirit torn from his flesh..” ( Beowulf 98) though he still chose to fight the dragon anyways and was, in turn, fatally wounded, but had he not been blind with his pride he would not have died and lived to lead his people for many more years.
Beowulf was warned, however, to be careful of his pride and to not depend on it when Hrothgar says: “Push away pride! Your strength, your power, Are yours for how many years? Soon You’ll return them where they came from, sickness or a sword’s edge Will end them….” (Beowulf 78).
Beowulf was also told stories about Hermond and being told to not be like him, for everything bad he had done to his people again by Hrothgar saying “Be not as Hermond once was to my people, too proud To care what their hearts hid, bringing them Only destruction and slaughter.” (Beowulf 76).
He had many warnings and stories told to him about other men who had let their pride control them, but still could not help but to succumb to it.
While on the surface the dragon had killed Beowulf, below the surface it had been his own pride that lead to his death.
So, Beowulf’s pride and bravery was the main reason that he had become more famous, and though he had been warned about pride becoming a flaw of his and given examples, he still did not listen and it had caused his downfall.