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Beowulf And Batman-A Compariso Essay, Research Paper
Throughout the poem, the author allows the reader to see, in action, the true workings of heroes. Men and women who cast aside their own personal needs and desires for the better of others. During this time society sustained a strong honor. The actions that an individual preserved over their lifetime was the title by which they were known to the rest of the land, both good and bad. There are many requirements of a hero. A hero was an individual who was feared and respected by subjects and by enemies. To be a hero one must be bold, courageous, valiant and daring. The hero must not fear death or whoever brings it, instead they must trust God, in the case of Beowulf, in his wisdom and timing, being prepared at all times to face anything. The classic hero possesses strength, ethics; and, above all, fights evil. This model applied in the time of Beowulf and still applies today, only slightly modified. As a result of such innovations as television and fashion magazines, society has come to value physical tribute areas evident in the example of Batman, a modern day hero. In addition, humility has become a desired quality in modern times, whereas self-confidence to the point of arrogance was a favorable attribute in the time of Beowulf. The main character of this tale is Beowulf. Beowulf is described as a perfect hero who fights for his people and vanquishes evil with his extraordinary abilities to bring peace and justice. Three of Beowulf s traits that support this are his amazing physical strength, his ability to put his people s welfare before his own. Beowulf could be and could have been depicted as one of the first seemingly mortal superheroes ever written about, and compared to early American superheroes quite easily along with their requirements and beliefs, as evident in the example of Batman, a modern day hero. Despite the differences, similarities between the Anglo-Saxon hero and modern day hero can be seen through the comparison of Beowulf and Batman. It seems all of the same basic traits that create a superhero never seem to change as hundreds or even thousands of years go by.
The Beowulf poem was written by no one definite person, but rather speculates as being passed on from performer to performer and later written down because one king or another requested it around 650 AD. The events in the poem are not true, however, the people and most of the places have been found to be true. Geatland was south of Lake Vattern, in present day Sweden. Also Lake Vattern, was more likely the sea that Beowulf set across to assist King Hrothgar. There also was a Ruler of these Danes named Hygelac who ruled around 520 by anonymous historians. (Rebsamen, viii) It can also be said by these real Scandinavian characters that lived around the eighth century, that so should be the time of the recording of Beowulf. By lost sources, the conclusion can be drawn that Beowulf fought the Grendel at age 20, Became King of the Geats at 38, and killed and also got killed by the Dragon at age 88. Descriptions and clues in the book can also support these numbers. The Anglo-Saxon period dates back to 449 to 1066. Anglo Saxons frequently fought with one another, but they had a great deal in common. Besides a common language base, they shared a heroic ideal and set of traditional heroes. They admired men of outstanding courage and loyalty.(www.geocities.com.athens/2471/) It didn’t matter what tribe they cam from, if these traits were shown in a person, they were received with grave courtesy. It wasn’t just the warriors and kings that were respected in this society but Scops(jester/singing poets) were too.(ask.com) It was he who remembered the important heroes, the kings, the important battles and the folklore of the tribe. Anglo-Saxon poetry was a oral art. It was rarely written down, but was recited as a song or riddle.(www.geocities.com.athens/2471/) One of the most renown stories of this time was Beowulf. The story of Beowulf has been passed through many generations, but the story has still withheld a brilliant illustration of the Anglo Saxon period and has remained a true typical epic of it’s time. Almost all heroic epics have the same elements which makes this particular style of literature stand out from others.
As Beowulf is a story and a myth, It has also been said the comic books of which the superheroes fight in are a creation of new myths for the modern age. The story of Beowulf and Beowulf himself can be easily characterized and fitted in by an almost universal idea or plot scheme following normal comic books or the way the superheroes act in them, as does Batman. Passages from Joseph Campbell s The Hero with a Thousand faces summarizes these key methods in Beowulf, or any other comic book. These points can also be another way of defining the arch of the advancement of a plot, which is more widely used. Roughly these Series of events list target points in the story (www.sideroad.com)
-The call to adventure
-The threshold and the threshold guardian
-The supreme ordeal and commensurate reward
-The return journey
What called Beowulf to adventure was story s of suffering of his kinsmen and eventually to Hrothgar s great hall to battle the Grendel. The threshold and threshold guardian is where the main part of the story truly begins, such as in Beowulf s case when he makes it to Heorot and sets his ambush for the Grendel. The Test for Beowulf, could be where Unferth, the son of Ecglaf questions Beowulf s strength and authority and does so, (499, Raffel) although Beowulf s noticeable boasting before and after that scene should prove enough. Helpers, can be classified as Unferth, who lends his sword to Beowulf, Beowulf s 12 thanes who attempt to assist him along the voyage, and Wiglaf, at the end, who lends himself as Beowulf s only aid in fighting the Dragon. Wiglaf could also actually be called the first written about sidekick as Robin was to Batman. The supreme ordeal for Beowulf, would come in 3, which would count as the 3 monsters fought in the epic poem, the Grendel being one of the most climactic and notarized. Police Commissioner James Gordon was also a constant character in the adventures of Batman and Robin. Hrothgar could be seen as the Commissioner giving Beowulf a sense of direction(www.admwest.com). The commensurate reward could all of the riches or fame Beowulf receives after defeating any one of the monsters, but a better fitting example for the term would be where Beowulf uses the Giant s sword he sees in Grendel s mother s den to cut her head off. The return journey for Beowulf would be when he sails back to his homeland after defeating the Grendel and his mother. (1888 +, Raffel) The Re-emergence would more likely be where Beowulf is aged and in Fighting the dragon realizes he is more mortal than he once thought, and his powers seem drained. The Restoration would be after Beowulf s death, where everything is somewhat back to normal and they have the burial ceremony. Suspense story s action comic books with superheroes and old poems such as Beowulf all have points that can be identified by this system in one way or another, bringing only the issue of age to stories such as these.
Beowulf and Batman both possess the heroic quality of strength. Beowulf swims for seven day and fights nine sea-monsters, a feat that most men cannot accomplish. He demonstrates his strength again in the battle with Grendel. Beowulf tears off Grendel s arms using his bare hands. Batman also has the classic heroic quality of strength. Batman single-handedly fights gangs of criminals on numerous occasions in the movie Batman, showing not only muscular strength, but endurance, much like that of Beowulf. Batman echoes the heroic strength of Beowulf. Batman and Beowulf also have strong codes of ethics. Batman often releases criminals after a fight instead of killing them. The criminals were not an immediate life threat, so Batman did not feel it was right to kill them. His code of ethics does not allow for murder, therefore Batman kills only when absolutely necessary. Beowulf reveals his adhesion to a code of ethics in his argument with Unferth. Beowulf condemns Unferth, saying You murdered your brothers, your own close kin. Words and bright wit won t help your soul; you ll suffer hell s fires, Unferth, forever tormented. Batman and Beowulf share the same code of ethics: one that condemns murder. The heroes are true to their ethics and only kill when absolutely necessary. Another heroic quality shared by Batman and Beowulf is their commitment to fighting evil. When a villain attacks innocent citizens, the hero is there to protect them and fight the attacker. Beowulf protects herot, traveling from Geatland to aid King Hrothgar and fight Grendel. After the battle with Grendel, Beowulf remains to kill Grendel s mother. Beowulf knows that as a hero, he must protect these people, even if they are not his people. Batman also knows he must fight evil in Gotham City, although he perceives no personal threat. Batman battles criminals on city streets and ultimately fights and destroys the Joker. These enemies do not pose a threat to Batman himself, but he fights them to save the people of Gotham City. Both Batman and Beowulf wear this heroic responsibility to fight evil well.
Another factor of stories containing super heroes old and new would be suspense an author or poet brings to the story. Critics have argued that in Beowulf, the element of suspense is ignored because of how there is always some hint or comment of the outcome before the climactic event appears. Ex- Grendel is no braver, no stronger than I am! I could kill him with my sword; I shall not, Easy as it would be. This fiend is a bold and famous fighter, but his claws and teeth scratching at my shield, his clumsy fists beating at my sword blade, would be helpless, I will meet him with my hands empty K. (670-683, Raffel) To defend this other critics have said though this is true, the poet does not say how the foreshadowed event will happen. (P.76, Fry) In usual super hero stories this method in any way would never be accepted. This is because often the interested reader would not care to find out or become uninterested in the rest if he/she already knows the outcome. Usually in the case of Batman as usually remembered there was a narrator s voice asking questions of the heroes fate. Though usually no one got hurt or killed anyways.
Though to keep interest peaked, the author or poet normally factors in a normal literary term called a Dramatic Audience. Dramatic audience can counter the feeling of uninterested because it includes the fates of the other characters in the story. The dramatic audiences in the first climax, where Beowulf Battles the Grendel are all of the other confused soldiers in the pitch black hall hearing the screams as Beowulf and Grendel fight, not knowing who will come out on top or what will happen in between that time. Another area is where all of the noblemen wait at the edge of the boiling swamp, not knowing if Beowulf will return safely. The last dramatic audience would be at the last scene, where all of those who swore to help Beowulf in defeating the dragon had ran off to safety at the last minute. Their fates could have been the most uncertain seeing as how Beowulf was ultimately killed by the Dragon. This is how the author or poet can maintain the suspense of the story. (76&77, Fry)
In terms of seeing Beowulf as one of the first super-human heroes ever created, firstly, epic characters hold high position Xkings, princes, noblemen, but the epic hero must be more than that. He must be able to perform outstanding deeds, be greater than the average character, and be of heroic proportions. Most of all, he must have super-human courage. The poet first describes Beowulf as “…greater/And stronger than anyone anywhere in this world” (195-196, Raffel), without informing us about what he did to acquire this reputation. The reader initially sees him through the awestruck eyes of the Danish soldier patrolling the cliffs. Beowulf’s appearance–his size, his armor–obviously commands immediate respect and attention.
Beowulf went straight into battle exhausted, from the strenuous journey across the ocean. The bravery that he possesses, along with an arrogant mentality that no one can defeat him keeps Beowulf from quitting at a time that anyone else would. Although Beowulf may appear arrogant, In Anglo-Saxon times and stories, strength and courage could only be backed by stories they had to show for it. In addition to being brave, Beowulf thinks of his people all of the time. Even when he was not a member of the clan, he still fought for them. He cares if they are being terrorized or killed, and shows his love by endlessly going into fights, each battle tougher than the one before. Even when he is dying after his battle with the dragon, all that he thinks about is the treasure that his clan would be able to use to their advantage.
The leader of the Geats even thanks God for letting him help his people while he lived. He gives them the bravest leader under him in Wiglaf, which was the best gift for his people, since like Beowulf, Wiglaf was brave. When Beowulf must fight the third and final battle with a dragon, he met his match. Beowulf knew this and yet he still continued to fight with the aid of Wiglaf, one of twelve assistants to the king. When Beowulf showed signs of failure all the others fled into he woods, fearing for their lives but only Wiglaf remained to help his king. In the modern sense of super-heroes Wiglaf could also be classified as almost a sidekick, fore Beowulf might not have defeated the Dragon if it weren t for the help of Wiglaf, as if it weren t for Robin, Batman might have been killed many times. This is what makes a hero; self sacrifice. Even with full knowledge of the great risk they were both facing, even when he …stared at death. (2587,Raffel), Beowulf remained, for the good of his people, knowing that he was their last hope before lest the dragon destroy them. Not only does he sacrifice his life, then like a true hero, in his dying moments he thanks God for his prosperous lifetime and he requests that the gold that he fought and died for be distributed to his people and a tower be erected in his name. For this, this gold, these jewels, I thank our Father in heaven, Ruler of the earth- for all of this, that his grace has given me KI sold my life for this treasure, and I sold it well. (2794, Raffel). Death in war was common and respected. To be a real hero, Beowulf needs to have some kind of personality to make him a man of epic proportions. Beowulf is arrogant, but through all of his arrogance, he still has a kind heart, is brave, and cares for his people. A person who upholds these qualities is truly a hero and a great example for all of mankind to look up to.
Discovering throughout this view of methods how an epic poem is told and what makes an epic hero. Using an example of Beowulf greatly supports the idea that through the ages, the criteria for a Hero, or how the story containing a Hero is written has not and more likely will never change.
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