Beowulf in Book and Film
The story of Beowulf is a timeless tale that many people have heard before. Beowulf is the great Anglo-Saxon hero who represents all that is good in the world and fights to protect the innocent. Beowulf goes out to battle monsters like Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the firedrake in order to keep the people safe. This part of the story will always remain the same and will never change. However, when comparing the novel to the movie there are in fact both many similarities and substantial changes when it comes to the character of Beowulf.
When comparing the character of Beowulf in the novel and the movie there are many similarities between the two. Both the character in the novel and in the movie possess the same basic personality traits and characteristics. These include things such as possessing typical characteristics of an epic hero. In both the novel and the movie, Beowulf is described as being the best and bravest of the Geats. It can be seen that Beowulf’s physical strength is above all others. In addition both the book and movie show the courage that Beowulf possessed in traveling a great distance to battle Grendel for the Danes.
When Beowulf had heard all the stories about the dreadful deeds of the demon Grendel, he determined to go and help Hrothgar, if he could. ”(Page 20) This demonstrates the unselfish quality of Beowulf wanted to help do whatever he can that is found in both the character in the movie and in the novel. Another similarity between the novel and the movie is that in both Beowulf is praised as a hero by the Danes after defeating Grendel and a huge feast is thrown in his honor. “All this for Beowulf!
Honor to Beowulf! Long live Beowulf, who has freed us from the monster Grendel! ” (Page 45) For all of these similarities there are just as many differences between the novel and the movie. In contrast, there are substantial changes between the character Beowulf in the novel and in the movie. First there is the fact of the way that Beowulf is portrayed physically. Beowulf is described in the novel as being “below average size” and looked taller sitting down than standing up” (Page 19).
He is also described as having “straight brown hair and strong wrists” (Page 19). In the movie the character of Beowulf is seen as being the same size as everyone else and also as having blonde hair. In addition, Beowulf’s personality is completely different in the novel and in the movie. In the novel Beowulf is a humble man that accepts his faults and recognizes the fact that he is not perfect. “Please don’t think of me as some kind of saint. That would make me as monstrous as Grendel, although in the other direction. (Page 76)
This quote demonstrates how Beowulf acknowledges that he is not all good and that there is evil inside of him that he must deal with. In the movie, Beowulf is more conceded about himself. He brags about what he has done and the skills he has and does not acknowledge that he does in fact have flaws and that there is evil inside of him. Another difference is in the choices that Beowulf makes and how this affects the rest of his life. In the novel Beowulf goes off and kills Grendel’s mother and then returns home to eventually become king.
After many years the firedrake is disturbed and begins to attack the village and Beowulf must go and stop the firedrake. In the movie, when Beowulf goes to kill Grendel’s mother he ends up having sex with her and their child is the firedrake. Beowulf then inherits Hrothgar’s kingdom and eventually the firedrake comes back to take revenge on his father and Beowulf must defeat his son to save his kingdom. I feel that the character of Beowulf in the novel was more likable than the character of Beowulf in the movie.
In the novel, Beowulf is more down to earth and personable than he is in the movie. Beowulf, in the novel acknowledges the fact that he is human and is in fact flawed. He showcases the fact that there is good and evil within him and that he must find a balance between this good and evil. I personally have a lot of respect for the character of Beowulf in the novel for the fact that he tries his hardest to help other people and to do what he considers to be the right thing.