Compare And Contrast Epic Hero In Beowulf

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Everybody likes rooting for a hero. And throughout the evolution of storytelling, from stories written in stone to those in tablets, heroes have always played a huge role in the stories we tell. As literature evolved, and more legends and tales began to appear in different cultures, the idea of a traditional epic hero was established. Stories like "The Epic of Gilgamesh," and "The Odyssey," set the mold for this type of heroes, an influence that can clearly be seen when analyzing literature. In fact, most of these characters, regardless of the time and place they were created in, shared similar characteristics to the two kings. A huge number possessed skills that mere mortals didn 't have, which helped them defeat their "infamous" enemies. These …show more content…

As has been noted, many of Beowulf 's characteristics are also shared by traditional epic heroes. He 's brave and never "cowers", defeats previously unbeatable monsters, comes from nobility, and has incredible superhuman strength. Beowulf can be compared to any other epic hero, and the similarities found between them will be never ending. However, there are other characteristics that the king of the Geats possesses which make him be very different from most epic heroes. First, there is the issue with Beowulf 's lack of a moral compass. Even when he saves countless lives, the hero never intends his quests to benefit anyone else than himself. This is constant throughout the book, and not even at his deathbed does Beowulf acknowledge something that is not about him or gold. He is often preoccupied by money and fame, but the wellbeing of other people is not in his vocabulary. For example, when a dragon begins to terrorize his kingdom, Beowulf 's first thought is not to protect his people. Instead, he says, "I 've never known fear, as a youth I fought in endless battles. I am old, now, but I will fight again, seek fame still, if the dragon hiding in his tower dares to face me." (52) To Beowulf, even as an older and supposedly wiser man, his main reason for fighting monsters continues to be to gain more fame. Other heroes, like Gilgamesh and Odysseus, usually do heroic deeds to help their kingdoms and men. For example, Gilgamesh kills the heavenly bull to avoid a famine from wrecking his kingdom, while Odysseus works to save his men throughout the story multiple times. Loyalty towards himself before anyone or anything else, is one of the qualities that separates Beowulf from other traditional heroes. Ironically in his efforts to gain fame and riches, Beowulf 's traits overlap with those of an epic hero. More important than Beowulf 's lack of morality though, is the warrior 's lack of growth throughout the story. Usually, in epic poems, the protagonists change

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