Beowulf Essay, Research Paper
A writers mind is very intellectual, they tend to have an unparalleled vision within their sense of understanding. The differences of this vision, compared to the levels of understanding, shows itself transversely throughout the novel Grendel and the epic poem Beowulf. Both forms of literature are distinct in the plot and setting, but Gardner’s perceptiveness of Beowulf in his novel differs from the view of the unknown author’s relay of Beowulf in the poem. In the poem, Beowulf is portrayed as an epic hero, brave honorable, and dignified, with vast generosity and munificent loyalty. While in the novel, he is portrayed as an unsettling stranger that connives his way into everyone’s life by his dangerous nature and entrancing stories.
In the poem, the character Beowulf is viewed as a true epic hero. He is very brave, has great strength, and is viewed by his peers as a person like God. He has won many battles, and completed many tasks that normal people wouldn’t have the guts to face. One of these tasks is the slaughter of the great monster Grendel. “That I, alone and with the help of my men,/ May purge all evil from this hall. I have heard,/ Too, that the monster’s scorn of men/Is so great that he needs no weapons and fears none./ Nor will I. My lord Higlac”. (260-264) In this statement from Beowulf, he is stating his fearlessness to his lord. This shows he is very brave and loyal, because he will risk his life to rid the beast. He also goes on to tell his people that if he doesn’t survive they can have his possessions. “And if death does take me, send the hammered/ Mail of my armor to Higlac, . . .”(281-282) This shows his generosity and his unselfishness to his people and the reader because he knows that he is not invulnerable. Because he knows this, he is willing to give up his possessions to the people he cares about, and become a better, dignified hero in case of an emergency.
In the novel, there is a whole different representation of the character Beowulf, he is viewed as a conniving snake that is feared by his fellows. People see him in an unsettling manner, with tense attitudes, and resented feelings. “The Danes sat sulking, watching the strangers eat, wishing some one of them would give them an excuse to use their daggers.”(159) The Danes are very jealous of Beowulf’s men. The status of a person, in that time, is determined by the amount of beasts and monsters they have defeated. This is why the character Beowulf and the top man in Hrothgar’s hall are seemingly always on each other’s throat. Beowulf is seen as a threat, not only to Grendel, but to the people of Hrothgar’s hall. Also, they view him as an insane guy who would do anything to be in the spotlight. “I understood at the last look in his eyes. He was insane.” (162) When a person does anything to get his status , and receive his honor, even to the point of dying for no reason, he is crazy. In the novel Grendel, Beowulf did just so. This makes the people of Hrothgar’s hall fear him, and let him have his way. This results in him killing Beowulf, and the other monsters within Hrothgar’s kingdom.
Gardner’s novel, and the unknown author’s poem, had many similarities including the plot and setting. But the differences were immense in the character of Beowulf. He is everything of an epic hero in the play, and in the novel, he is a cunning fearful snake, that will do anything for fame. These differences go to show how writers have different takes on other people’s work. This creates diversity in the wonderful world of literature.
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