University School - Hunting Valley
Instructor: Molly Klaisner
Despairing Developmental Disparities
Despairing Developmental Disparities
Two seven-year-old boys get ready for the school day. They're very much alike; both enjoy baseball and science and are just all-around good kids, well as good as seven-year-olds can be. Neither has done anything particularly notable, good, or bad, yet their lives will look completely different, based on one simple fact: They live ten minutes away from each other. These two boys, although very similar, although having no control over this, live on opposite sides of an imaginary line someone drew separating two districts, resulting in them attending two different schools, and leading them on two very different paths. Not race, not merit, not initiative: Location determines the quality of one's education.
Educational inequality is extremely unjust, given how it is rooted deep in society, affecting communities for generations at a time. Education inequalities are a major problem for the nation, as a poor childhood education often results in a continuous cycle of generational poverty. These systematic issues need addressing now, through reforms that must include sourcing funding from something other than the unequal and problematic system of property taxes, ensuring that each student's needs are met with a quality education. Why should some students receive completely different qualities of education simply because they live in different places? Why should something, as simple as a ten-minute drive determine someone's future, whether they'll graduate, get a job, end up in prison, or on the street? Why should something so fundamentally important be so undervalued to the point where this is a common occurrence? Why should a child's location, regardless of his or her merit, regardless of his or her initiative, regardless of his or her drive, regardless of whether he or she wants to try, wants to succeed, why should this one thing, something which a child has no control over whatsoever, decide the quality of his or her education, and as a result whether he or she will succeed or suffer? Why do we let this occur?
The story of those two little boys echoes throughout Cleveland and across the nation each morning, resulting in deep and widespread educational disparities throughout our communities. Imaginary lines, drawn separating one from his or her neighbor across the street, determine the quality of children's education. Location is the single most driving factor of the quality of education; in fact, according to The Atlantic, "[n]ationally, high-poverty districts spend 15.6 percent less per student than low-poverty districts do, according to U.S. Department of Education" (Semuels). Students living in low-poverty districts receive better educations than those living in higher-poverty districts, as schools cannot afford to spend as much on their students' educations. This systematic injustice has been brought on by one main issue: the source of funding school districts. For a long time, Cleveland, as well as the rest of America, has seen these educational disparities develop from sourcing school funding from property taxes, a method that has ensured monetary inequalities in school funding depending on location, and a myriad of consequences thereof. The unjust education system, which impacts the lives of children all throughout the city and country, remains prevalent and problematic even today. As ruled by the Ohio Supreme Court over 25 years ago in the landmark DeRolph v. State of Ohio, "Ohio's school funding system, based on local property taxes and augmented by state aid, was unconstitutional, violating both the Equal Protection Clauses and the Thorough and Efficient Clauses of the Ohio Constitution" (Ohio Education Policy Institute). Although this source of funding was ruled unconstitutional, its lasting effects remain, still impacting the lives of children all over the country, causing widespread educational inequalities based on location. A poor education, which is the result of poverty and impoverished districts, only continues this cycle, as students who receive a lower quality of education, have higher incarceration rates, graduate at a lower rate, are less likely to attend college, and often go on to receive lower-paying jobs, a cycle which traps millions in this cycle of poverty (Curley). This is not a new issue, as schools in Ohio have been funded unequally this way for almost 200 years (Geneva). There exists a major problem in the school system and its source of funding, a problem creating deep, systematic educational inequalities throughout the nation, resulting in severe consequences.
The education system has been a flawed and unequal injustice, affecting the lives of children all over the country, for too many years now. This reality, where children's quality of education depends on where they live, is a sad reality. An overreliance on property taxes has caused widespread discrepancies in the education of children nationally and particularly in Cleveland. Property taxes are an unsubstantial, unequal, unjust, and unconstitutional source of funding schools. In fact, the DeRolph ruling even found that "evidence reveals that the wide disparities are caused by the funding system's overreliance on the tax base of individual school districts. What this means is that the poor districts simply cannot raise as much money even with identical tax effort" (Ohio Education Policy Institute). Poorer school districts with lower property values see less funding, and therefore the students' educations are harmed. Why should location determine a child's education, a matter that a child has no control over? With recent hard times from the pandemic, this issue has been brought to the surface, displaying how significant it is and how wide its effects range. In Cleveland, poorer districts struggled the most with teaching during the pandemic as well as recovering from it too (Higgs). Property taxes are not enough to fund these schools in low-poverty districts, where the tax intake from low-valued properties is simply too low, especially during these trying times. Students in school districts in impoverished areas have suffered the most, as these underfunded districts are unable to educate these children properly. The pandemic has taken a larger toll on students in high-poverty schools than those in low-poverty schools (Kuhfeld) because of the disparity in funding. Unable to provide students with necessary learning tools like Wi-Fi and computers, "[l]ow-income students have suffered the greatest 'learning loss' due to partial or total remote learning. One contributing factor is that people in low-income districts are less likely to have the technological resources they need" (McCann) to properly learn when away from school. Missing out on crucial, fundamental, and what should be guaranteed and protected as their right, rather than stripped away, students in high-poverty districts saw a decrease in performance, as the term "learning loss" was coined to represent the loss of education during the pandemic. According to Ohio State School Report Cards, "[i]n 12 districts where the performance index [measuring student achievement] declined by at least 22 points from 2019 — the last year the state calculated the index — all 12 ranked 494th or lower for income levels among the 607 districts" (Higgs). It is a fact that because of an overreliance on property taxes, which largely vary on location, to fund schools, poorer school districts are unable to provide their students with the same quality of education as more well-funded school districts.
Location is the single most driving factor of a student's quality of education, as school districts in Cleveland receive extremely different funding depending on their location. The per pupil costs at these schools vastly differ, causing some students' educations to be neglected while others are given a better education simply because of where they live. This problem exists throughout Cleveland school districts, as the Orange City school district, for example, has an average of $21,628 per student spending, while schools just twenty minutes away spend on average over $10,000 less per student, in the case of Geauga Heights City Schools, with an average of $10,773 per student spending (O'Donnell). These disparities in educational funding give way to the educational inequalities which exist throughout the city. The quality of one's education, determined by one's location, is a serious problem facing this city.
This widespread injustice of educational inequality needs attention now, before it is allowed to continue to wreak havoc on anymore, trapping them in a cycle of poverty forever. There is a solution. The solution to this issue offers all children a chance at a quality education, no matter what kind of life they are born into. Over the years, the Cleveland education system has been constantly overhauled, in hopes of correcting educational injustices. However, these reforms have done little to bring any real change and improve education in poorer districts. The overreliance on property taxes to fund school districts puts poorer districts at a disadvantage, as they are unable to spend as much on each student. Cleveland needs to overhaul this outdated, unjust system, for one that tends to each student's needs, regardless of their financial situation. A just and beneficial funding system would require research and data collection first, as the information collected would be invaluable. A committee, private or governmental, needs to examine school districts, and identify funding needs that provide a quality education for each student. Property taxes have long been used as the primary source of funding, as they generally provide a substantial budget, and are relatively stable, attractive qualities that can, in fact, work for the school system, rather than against it as property taxes long have. Utilizing local property taxes, as well as state and federal funding would be the best system, where property taxes provide the base of the budget, and the rest of the funding needs augmented by government funding. To ensure fair, equal, and quality education for all students in Cleveland, the system of school funding must meet students' needs, which can only be achieved through a collaboration of funding. The government must step in to supplement the needs of schools, which cannot provide the funding alone for per pupil costs that are necessary for quality education.
Fortunately, there are people willing to fight for this issue and stand up against centuries of unjust education policies. Although the city of Cleveland has implemented a wide variety of education reforms in hopes of correcting this injustice, none have fully solved this pressing issue. The city of Cleveland needs a solution that will address historic inequalities, account for per-pupil costs, take into consideration property values, and assess the needs of individual students. The Ohio Fair School Funding Plan will tackle this issue the best, using research and data collection to determine the real cost of each child's education, so that the city can direct funding accordingly (Children's Defense Fund Ohio). More education system reform bills like this one, providing direction for funds to directly improve education quality, and targeting the root problems, need to be passed across the nation to end this injustice, rather than a continued policy of blindly throwing money at the problem. Educational inequalities can be fixed, but every passing minute that goes by changes the course of children's futures.
While this is a pressing issue, with solutions that can be enacted to stop the ongoing, widespread injustice, some continue to argue against it. The overreliance on property taxes has caused educational inequalities to present themselves; however, there is a reason that property taxes have historically been used to fund education. Theoretically, property taxes would be a good source of funding, relatively stable, unavoidable, and transparent (Kenyon); however, their use in the real world is far less ideal. Some argue for a different solution to solving educational inequalities such as just blindly throwing money at the problem, hoping it will work itself out, while others outright deny their existence and prevalence. States across the nations have begun to take on this problem and fight against these inequalities in different ways. Some states have attempted to decrease their reliance on property taxes, favoring a combination of local tax revenue with state aid (Kenyon). Other states have increased other taxes, such as sales tax, to help contribute to education funding as a supplement to property tax funding (Kenyon). Many possible solutions may work to level these historic educational inequalities; however, what is sure is that we need to move away from an overreliance on property taxes in favor of a mixture of funding sources to ensure students' educational needs are met. These solutions cannot make any change though without all of our support. Cleveland, as well as the rest of the nation, needs to make real educational reforms in order to remedy these unjust educational inequalities, which cause so much damage to our societies.
Imagine those two seven-year-old boys, both with the same passions, the same desires, and the same drives to learn, receiving a quality education. They live ten minutes away from each other and grow up in different areas and financial situations, but are not punished with a poor education because of the location they live at, something they cannot control. One's education determines not only their future, but their children's, and children's children's as well. A quality education or the lack of a quality education has lasting impacts on society. To deny a child a chance at a quality education, a chance to make all the difference in his or her life, a chance to thrive or suffer, is a great injustice, but unfortunately it happens every day in this city and nation. Educational inequalities remain prevalent throughout Cleveland and their consequences of generational poverty, incarceration, and more, plague the city because of it. While these problems cannot be solved alone overnight, together, this city can work to pass real reform, and give all children, no matter race, ethnicity, location, or any other unjust metric, a quality education, and a fair chance at a bright future.
An Inch away yet a Year afar
Personal Essay & Memoir
An Inch away yet a Year afar
I sit in my car, buckled in the back seat, driving down familiar road yet feeling so distant and foreign. The monster of a car comes to an abrupt stop, my already boiling nerves now intensifying more. I swing open the car door, catching a glimpse of the old brick building, glaring from the intense sun of the afternoon. The black pavement, covered by the crowds of boys, would have appeared missing if not for all the boys dressed the same, in their black sportcoats. Before I am able to even plant both of my feet firmly on the ground coming out of the car, I hear my name shouted from multiple directions. As I continue on closer to the swarms of boys, faces appear to come into focus, yet remain unknown to me. "Am I in the right place?" I repeatedly ask myself. As the gap between the crowds and me shrink, it dawns upon me: I am in a world not of my own, a world entirely unrecognizable.
Picture this: a four-foot by five-foot cutout in the wall, covered with yellow and white striped wallpaper, giving off the feeling of an old-fashioned pool house, with only a single window, appearing like an isolated jail cell. This little cutout, now equipped with a desk that hardly fits, is my new classroom. As my previous year of middle school, seventh grade, was cut short due to a pandemic, ending with a few months of online learning, I decide to continue virtual learning into my eighth-grade year. I am an outlier, as the vast majority of my classmates choose to return to in-person learning.
My alarm clock that is my phone blares, it's 7:30 AM, on the dot, as I desperately reach to diffuse the clamor before its spreads beyond my room. I get up out of bed instantly, accustomed to the machine-like routine that now consumes my days. As I walk over to my bathroom, connected to my room, just feet away from my bed, I subconsciously dodge obstacles hindering my path. Though still half out of it, I get ready for the day that is to come. After a few short minutes, I have completed my morning routine, still lacking the knowledge of which days it is, as they all seem to blur together in my isolation. I walk the same path that I do every day, finally arriving at my in-home classroom, taking my seat as I prepare to start the day like all others. One meeting, two classes, lunch, two more classes, homework, sleep—those are my days now, with very limited social interactions as I tend to stare at a teacher or wall all day, depending on how the camera is situated, for the most part, solely interacting with the teacher. Although I try to stay involved as much as possible, my efforts are practically futile. I sit in the empty room, listening to the teacher, whose voice slowly starts to fade into distant background noise, as my mind starts to both wander and stand still, and a cold feeling brews in my chest. Although I sit just inches away from my computer, streaming my classes to me live, I feel as though I am at such a distance and an outsider who has ceased to be there in the presence of my own life.
Months of this repeated motion go by, day after day, the distance between my good, old, regular life and my persistent life, only growing further. I feel as though I am frozen in time, as life goes on, I miss out on so much. However, I'm able to make it through the year of online learning, now invited back to school for my eighth-grade graduation, an event which I have been anticipating for a long time now. I don't know how to feel, excited, scared, perhaps both. It's been well over a year now since I have seen many of my friends and even stepped foot on the campus, which has been a part of my life for quite a significant time.
The day is here, classes are over, my final day of middle school, if you can even call it that anymore, after a year where I've been nothing but stuck between two different worlds. After getting dressed and taking pictures, I get in my car for my last ride to school, a ride which should feel familiar to me at this point, as I have completed it a thousand times, yet now feels foreign. The ride into school on this hot day, although not technically summer, feels as such, goes by in the blink of my eyes. Before I even notice, the towering, famed clock tower is staring me right in my eyes, a welcoming sight which I have truly missed. As the car comes to a stop, I catch glimpses of people I think I once knew. It's crazy how a year of solitude has made me such an outsider in my own life. Getting out of the car, a grin shines through my covered face. Quickly joining the groups of students and faculty, which I have come to know over the year, I now stand before them feeling alien. After greeting some of them and making proper introductions, I look around in circles at all the new and old faces. As I try to catch up with some old friends, although it feels as though they were never not caught up, I can't help but notice all the changes everyone has gone through and now wear. Voices almost unrecognizable, hair so long that it covers many faces, and everyone appearing at least five inches taller, makes me feel foreign to this environment once more. After heading indoors, I find myself sitting alone, something I have been accustomed to recently, with the same ambient background noise that I have become familiar with as well. After waiting for the ceremony to start for almost half an hour, the reality of my situation truly dawns on me: although I had been removed from the ecosystem of my school, no one else really was, time passed on, relationships continued and changed, and life progressed. The truth is that my life somewhat continued on as well; however when journeying back to school, I had thought that I would be able to just pick up where I left off. I have been an inch away from my screen for the last year, but the truth is that I am in fact much farther away, a year away. As I have this moment of realization in my head, I hear an announcement being made, that the ceremony is starting. I jump up out of my chair onto my feet, ready to rejoin this community, not wanting to make up for lost time, but to strive to ensure that I spend my future time well.
Macbeth: Guilty as Charged?
Macbeth: Guilty as Charged?
In Shakespeare's Macbeth, although it may seem that Macbeth has free will and chooses his own path, making him responsible for all the horror he causes, he in fact has no such abilities, as his fate has already been sealed. Throughout Macbeth, much loss is endured and blood shed. These numerous, violent conflicts leave readers asking, "who's at fault?" The obvious answer to this question that many readers quickly jump to is Macbeth. However, the true answer to this question may not be as apparent. In Shakespeare's Macbeth, Macbeth is presented with prophecies that are seemingly his fate, which leads him to attempt to change this fate, ultimately leading to his downfall and demise.
In Shakespeare's Macbeth, fate is a constant element that continuously shapes and affects the entirety of the play. Fate is first displayed in action when Macbeth and Banquo 'stumble' upon the Weird Sisters, who then present Macbeth and Banquo with two prophecies each. The first of these prophecies immediately stuns and surprises Macbeth. "All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor!" (1.3.52). Macbeth is prophesied by the Weird Sisters to be Thane of Cawdor, however, this poses an issue, as there already is a Thane of Cawdor, or at least Macbeth thinks so. However, soon after, the king's messenger arrives with news for Macbeth. "He bade me, from him, call thee Thane of Cawdor,/ In which addition, hail, mostworthy thane,/ For it is thine" (1.3.110-122). The messenger delivers the news to Macbeth, telling him that he has been bestowed the title of Thane of Cawdor by the king, just as the witches had said. Macbeth immediately thinks of his first prophecy and it now being true. Another example of fate's presence in Macbeth is the second prophecy given to Macbeth and it becoming true. After Macbeth is hailed Thane of Cawdor, the Weird Sisters hail him king. "All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter!" (1.3.53). The Weird Sisters prophesize Macbeth's kingship, something that is very strange to both readers and Macbeth as he is not in line for the throne, yet it comes true. Macbeth does ascend to king just as the witches proclaimed, even while not in line for the throne. "Which fate and metaphysical aid doth seem/ To have thee crowned withal" (3.5.32-33). Fate has in fact crowned Macbeth king. Every word the witches speak comes true. The prophecies they speak of are not just prophecies, but glimpses into the fated reality. Fate is not only present in Macbeth, but hard at work as well.
Fate is a core aspect of Shakespeare's Macbeth, running wild throughout the story, and controlling all that is to come. However, Macbeth believes that he is exempt. Macbeth believes that he can change fate, he believes that he can control it. Instead of bowing down to fate, he attempts to demand from it and make it bow down to him. "Thou hast harped my fear aright. But one word/ more—" (4.1.84-85). Of course, this is to no success though. His attempt to demand and control is quickly struck down, fate exempts no one as Hecate, a master of fate clearly displays. "He shall spurn fate, scorn death, and bear/ His hopes 'bove wisdom, grace, and fear./ And you all know, security/ Is mortals' chiefest enemy" (3.5.30-33). Macbeth's overconfidence is his true greatest enemy, making him feel as if he is above being controlled by fate. However, as constantly displayed this is not the case. Macbeth wants to change his fate and so he attempts to. He decides to attempt to change one of the prophecies given by the Weird Sisters. Banquo is prophesied to father kings, which Macbeth believes he can stop by killing Banquo and his son Fleance. "And with him/ (To leave no rubs nor botches in the work)/ Fleance, his son, that keeps him company,/ Whose absence is no less material to me/ Than is his father's, must embrace the fate/ Of that dark hour. Resolve yourselves apart" (3.1.152-157). Macbeth believes that he has free will, that he is in control, but how sorely mistaken he is. He plans to kill both Banquo and his son, he believes he can, yet once the trap is sprung it fails. "We have lost best half of our/ affair" (3.3.31-32). The plan has failed, the prophecy remains unaltered, and Macbeth has failed to change fate. Fate is the sealed future, set in stone, constantly at work, affecting everything and exempting nothing. Macbeth may believe that he can in fact alter his sealed fate, however, he is fated to fail.
In Shakespeare's Macbeth, Macbeth continuously attempts to alter the course of fate, believing that he can, yet failing every time. Macbeth holds two policies when it comes to fate: The first being that fate is absolute, which Macbeth implores to feel protected as well as to justify his actions. His second policy on fate differs much: Macbeth believes that fate is changeable yet not, that he will become king as prophesied, yet not lose it as also prophesied. His continued attempts to change his fate prove that Macbeth's former policy is indeed correct. Even Macbeth knows this, yet he welcomes fate and openly challenges it, somehow believing that fate can be whatever he desires. "If 't be so,/ For Banquo's issue have I filed my mind; For them the gracious Duncan have I murdered;/ Put rancors in the vessel of my peace/ Only for themand mine eternal jewel/ Given to the common enemy of man to make them kings, the seeds of Banquo kings./ Rather than so, come fate into the list,/ And champion me to th' utterance" (3.1.70-77). This arrogant, ignorant, and helpless behavior to preserve his life and legacy, which Macbeth has been consumed by, takes hold of Macbeth, blinding him from the true reality right in front of him. These qualities have made Macbeth feel invincible, so much so that he misinterprets prophecies, leaving him exposed and vulnerable. When Macbeth looks for reassurance he receives another batch of prophecies, one of which is seemingly impossible, or so the clouded Macbeth thinks. "Macbeth shall never vanquished be until/ Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill/ Shall come against him" (4.1.105-107). This prophecy speaks of Macbeth's downfall, but Macbeth, so arrogant, misses the true meaning and real possibility that it holds. Macbeth responds, laughing the prophecy off and thinking nothing of it, something that will ultimately be the cause of his downfall. "That will never be./ Who can impress the forest, bid the tree/ Unfix his earthbound root? Sweet bodements, good!" (4.1.108-110). Macbeth challenged fate and now he challenges the possibility of this fated prophecy becoming true. His arrogance and now his ignorance have made Macbeth feel invulnerable, to the point where he feels he changes fate by doing nothing. However, fate does show up at Macbeth's door, who like all, is unable to stop the dreaded fate. "'Fear not till Birnam Wood Do come to Dunsinane,' and now a wood/ Comes toward Dunsinane" (5.50-52). The debt always comes due, there is no stopping fate, there is no free will. Birnam Wood does come to Dunsinane, just as prophesied, just as Macbeth claimed would never happen. Macbeth has spent the entire play desperate to change his faded course, however, it has been to no avail.
Every event that takes place in Macbeth has been fated, there is no free will at work. No matter how hard Macbeth tries to change the course of his fate, it is to no avail. Macbeth is not in control of his life. He may believe that he is in control of his own actions, but as overwhelmingly displayed, he is clearly not. It is for these reasons that Macbeth is in fact, blameless for all strokes of his hand, for they are simply out of his control. The true enemy of this story is therefore fate, the puppet master who makes illusions of free will controlling all, and thereby responsible for all. Macbeth is the true scapegoat of fate, taking the blame for something that he has no control over. This new way of viewing Macbeth brings back the once thought-simple question of who is to blame now that once guilty Macbeth has been exonerated.
The Makings of a Hero
The Makings of a Hero
Although it may seem that it is simple to be a hero, it is in fact a difficult and extremely fragile task and state, which can be compromised quickly. The true enemies of a hero are a hero's own pride and ambition, attributes which can quickly poison a hero into becoming a villain. The definition of what it means to be a hero has changed drastically over the course of time and space as will be demonstrated, however, the struggles of becoming heroes remain unaltered. Heroes' true tests are against themselves and their own ambition and pride, and whether or not it will get the better of them, or not. Macbeth and Beowulf, vastly different characters from vastly different worlds, face the trials of heroism throughout their respective stories, as they are tempted by the poisonous apple of self-pride and ambition, each arriving at a different resolution.
Although it may seem that Macbeth was once a hero, exemplifying attributes that a hero should hold, he was in fact not a hero, due to his inability to resist his own ambition and pride, the fatal flaw of any hero. The beginning of Macbeth paints Macbeth as a noble, brave, courageous, and loyal warrior. The account of the captain who had witnessed Macbeth in action provides insight into how Macbeth was first perceived. "And Fortune, on his damnèd quarrel smiling,/ Showed like a rebel's whore. But all's too weak;/ For brave Macbeth (well he deserves that name),/ Disdaining Fortune, with his brandished steel,/ Which smoked with bloody execution,/ Like Valor's minion, carved out his passage/ Till he faced the slave..." (1.2.16-22). Macbeth performs acts of courage and bravery, however, the true test of a hero is denying one's own pride and ambition, something which he fails to do on multiple occasions, beginning with the prophesies given to him by the witches. After hearing of the supposed fate, Macbeth's ambition arises as he is tempted by his fate. "Two truths are told/ As happy prologues to the swelling act/ Of thi'imperial theme" (1.3.140-142). As one of the prophecies has already come true, Macbeth seeks to fulfill the others. This drives Macbeth into committing horrific acts, setting off a chain of events where his ambition is never-ending. Macbeth's pride poisons him, as he now feels invincible, as displayed by this evidence. "There is none but he/ Whose being I do fear; and under him/ My genius is rebuked, as it is said/ Mark Antony's was by Caesar" (3.1.59-63). Macbeth's pride and ambition have consumed him to the point where he now challenges fate. "Rather than so, come fate into the list,/ And champion me to th'utterance" (3.1.76-77). Pride and ambition have caused Macbeth to fall from what could have been heroic status. Malcolm makes a fitting comparison of Macbeth to Lucifer, as they have both fallen so far. "Angels are bright still, though the brightest fell" (4.3.27). Macbeth, a once-thought hero, becomes a disgraced vial villain as his pride and ambition took hold of him, something which a hero must maintain control of.
Although it may seem that Beowulf is not a hero due to his failure to protect his people, he in fact exemplifies what a true hero should be. From the moment Beowulf is introduced, he is a great warrior and noble man, just as Macbeth, however, has not achieved heroic status. "There was no one else like [Beowulf] alive./ In his day, he was the mightiest man on earth,/ high-born and powerful" (196-198). Beowulf, powerful, mighty, and noble, performs valiant and selfless acts from the moment he is introduced. On one occasion, Beowulf swam out into the sea, filled with monsters, in order to protect his people. From now on/ sailors would be safe, the deep-sea raids/ were over for good" (567-569). While these actions are heroic, they do not make a hero alone. To be a hero, one must reject self-ambition and pride, something which Beowulf demonstrates numerous times. When offered the Geat throne by Hygd after her husband's death, Beowulf turns down the offer, instead choosing to help the young prince, rather than furthering his own self. "There Hygd offered him throne and authority/ as lord of the ring-hoard: with Hygelac dead,/ she had no belief in her son's ability/ to defend their homeland against foreign invaders" (2369-2372). Unlike Macbeth who jumps at the opportunity to become king, even though he is not in line and not offered the throne, Beowulf denies his own ambition and pride. Beowulf is a true hero due to these actions of denying self-indulgence. Beowulf is viewed fondly by his people because of this as well for his courage and bravery. "They said that of all the kings upon the earth/ he was the man most gracious and fair-minded,/ kindest to his people and keenest to win fame" (3180-3181). Beowulf is the embodiment of what a hero is. Although Beowulf may have not saved his people in the end, his selflessness in denying his ambition and pride, the enemies of a hero which can so quickly poison a hero, makes Beowulf a true hero.
Although it may seem that to be a hero requires nothing more than bravery and courage, in fact, heroism is much more complex, a state achieved only through denial of one's own ambition and pride. Macbeth, a courageous warrior is not a hero due to this. He indulged his ambition and pride rather than refusing them. Macbeth, who was once a good man became poisoned by these things, driving him to do horrific things in his self-interest. Beowulf, who many may label not a hero on a first glance, is in fact the hero of these stories, as he denied his ambition, pride, and self-interest. Heroism is generally thought of as strength and courage. However, true heroism lies not in these things, but rather in selflessness, being beyond selfless to deny self-indulgence. This idea is an extremely significant one, as it changes the way we view what heroism is. All the strength, courage, and bravery in the world does not make a hero, but rather, denying self-ambition and pride, just as Beowulf has successfully done.