Compare And Contrast Unferth And Beowulf

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The Anglo-Saxon idea of what a hero is includes characteristics such as robustness, courage, and honorability. Over time, these characteristics--along with others--have developed into the archetypal hero as seen in myths and stories across the globe. In the epic poem Beowulf, written by an unknown author, the two characters Beowulf and Unferth display several of these qualities; however, they do not exhibit all of them or they demonstrate them in a less conventional way. The main character of the poem is Beowulf, an already established hero when the reader is introduced to him. He goes on a journey to aid a neighboring kingdom in a fight against a horrible monster. Unferth is a thane to the king of this kingdom. Although he is not a prominent character, his envious, cowardly nature is fully revealed in the few…show more content…
In literature, a foil is a character who either contrasts with or is the complete opposite of another character, usually the main character, or protagonist. The purpose of a foil is to accentuate the positive characteristics of the protagonist to make them appear as a generally better individual. Unlike Beowulf, Unferth is overall selfish, cowardly, and dishonorable. He puts others down when he contributed nothing to the defeat of Grendel. Also, Beowulf would never bring harm to his own kin or even his fellow thanes. Unferth appears to be a parallel of sorts to the biblical figure Cain, who is an ancestor of Grendel and Grendel’s mother. While the two characters are strikingly different, they are both strong and seem to fluctuate between being humble and boastful. Beowulf demonstrates enough of characteristics to be considered a true Anglo-Saxon hero, but Unferth could hardly be considered an individual to look up to. They both share qualities with an archetypal hero, but they do not exhibit all of them or reveal them

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