Beowulf and King Arthur
Similarities between Beowulf and King Arthur
All these heroes did different things for their people. They have different set of qualities which make them heroes and since there are many heroic adventures and qualities, most of them are shared in part or as a whole with other heroes. That becomes the case between the two great heroes Beowulf and King Arthur.
Beowulf emerged from the epic poem Beowulf while King Arthur was from the story of Morte d’Arthur. They have strong similarities and great differences. To be a true hero, you should do good things for good people, this depicts Beowulf’s situation. He left his homeland to help the Danish to get rid of human eating monster the Grendel. This quality is also evident in King Arthur, as he consciously rides into a battle so as to rid his people of an evil knight that does not allow others to pass.
Both heroes display their concern for others by involving themselves in risky battle for the greater good. In the same aspect they are trying to get love and respect from the people they protect. To obtain this maximum respect both and Arthur enter into battle alone. For Beowulf, when Grendel is defeated, the glory, love and respect solely belong to him and his men.
Arthur on the other hand does the same, when he met with his man and his horse. He mounted up and dressed his weapons, he bade his chamberlain tarry there till he came again (Morte d’Arthur). Although Arthur starts his journey alone he did meet with Merlin the court magician and faithful companion who later accompany him.
The characteristic of being fearless when faced with death is a trait seen in all because it depicts courage and strength. Beowulf and King Arthur are not afraid of death thus showed their courage to adversaries and their peers. When Arthur is faced with death he says, “welcome be it when it cometh, but to yield me unto thee as cowardly I had liefer die than to be a shamed.” (Morte d’Arthur).
He simply said that he would rather die than admit to a defeat or being cowardly. Beowulf feels much the same way because he shows no fear for his own life but instead expressed a concern for the honor of King Higlac by asking “if death does take him, send the hammered / Mail of his armor to Higlac” (Macneile D, 2008). Sending his King his armor recommits him to his country and lets his King be reminded how brave he was every time he looks at it.
Looking at their differences, Beowulf was way more confident in his fighting ability then Arthur. It is evident when Beowulf fights Grendel unarmed he said his hands shall fight and struggle for him. His reasoning is that Grendel is so great that he needs no weapons and fears none and therefore by facing Grendel unarmed, he shows that he is brave and more significantly unafraid to be equal to Grendel since Grendel was not going to fight with weapons.
Were as the much less confident Arthur fights with weapons since once his wounds were amended his first thought was his sword followed by the task of his army finding him one. This displays Arthur’s weakness in his reliance on weapons. Since Beowulf’s men could give him in the fight he had to defeat the monster by himself with his bear hands. On the other hand Arthur lost his battle by first of all loosing a jousting match then lost on the ground. Merlin had to come to rescue by using his magic, putting the knight to sleep for a period of three hours.
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Beowulf in the end is the greater hero because the help he received from his men was useless. Their differences in heroism can be due to the fact that Arthur was a young hero compared to Beowulf who was an experienced hero. Either way they are like most heroes since their similarities and differences makes them who they are. They left commendable and memorable fantasy characteristics since both demonstrated great love for others as they both tried to do good things for commendable people.
Macneile, D.(2008). English Epic and Heroic Poetry: BiblioBazaar publishers