Beowulf Vs. Tolkien

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In both works, the authors of Beowulf and Tolkien also assigned their society’s negative traits to their stories’ villains. In Beowulf, Grendel was swamp-dwelling son of Cain, the exiled killer of Abel and father to all evil spirits (102 – 110). Grendel’s swampy home is easily accessible to the Anglo-Saxon audience as dark and dangerous. On top of this, Grendel’s home exists on the outside edges of King Heorot’s lands: not central but still inside (103). This location represents the marginalities of the Anglo-Saxon people who the majority of society sees as sinful or “demonic.” To the Anglo-Saxons, these outsiders would have been those who did not follow cultural norms, including those dictated by biblical law. Tolkien’s work hosts a far wider…show more content…
In Beowulf, the dragon represents uncontrollable and sinful greed and anger. Angry that a man had stolen just one goblet from his vast treasure hoard, the dragon leaves his cave to burn and destroy the homes and property of innocent humans (Beowulf 2293–2325). While the dragon is obviously more powerful than the other powerful kings in the epic, the dragon’s power is considered dark and unholy because of the dragon’s materialism. The dragon’s willingness to destroy human life because of his misdirected anger also mirrors the Christian sins of wrath and pride, as the dragon prioritizes his life and material belongings before the rights of others. Again, this is contrary to the other kings in the epic, notably to King Hrothgar who genuinely cared and worried for the welfare of his people (147-149). The dragon represents the human flaws of materialism and extreme…show more content…
Firstly, both stories’ main protagonists represent the positive expectations of good individuals in their respective societies. In turn, the monsters and antagonists of the stories represent the marginalities of Anglo-Saxon society and the lowly peasants of English society. Lastly, both books explore similar themes of greed and wrath through the characterization of a dragon, and Tolkien builds upon social commentary present in Beowulf to create a statement about the social illnesses that lead to the Great Depression. At first glance, these works of art seem vastly different and unconnected. However, careful observation reveals that pieces of prose and poetry written throughout history have a tendency to repeat literary themes, borrowing from one another and morphing ideas to create more relevant and more compelling
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