Loyalty and Faith Theme in Beowulf

Loyalty and Faith Theme in Beowulf


Thesis Statement: Analysis and comparison of the concepts of loyalty and faith in the poem Beowulf and Hermann Hesse’s novel Siddhartha
 
Table Of Contents

  • Introduction: Definition of Loyalty and Sacrifice in Beowulf vs. Siddhartha
  • Quotes Of Loyalty
  • Theme Of Faith In Beowulf
  • Conclusion: What qualities should a character have to be loyal
  • Work Cited

Loyalty and faith can be portrayed in many ways, however, requires discipline to be attained. “Beowulf” is an epic poem about a warrior who is required to defend a town from a beast which terrorizes and kills all of its people. This warriors name is Beowulf, whose strength and courage is put to test as he fights this beast. On the other hand, Siddhartha is a story about a young man who strives to find nirvana, a state of mind where there is no pain, worry, or an external world. Siddhartha leaves his family for a contemplative life, to reach his one goal- to let the “self” die.

Both of these characters undergo experiences so as to portray loyalty, which involve making sacrifices for the well being of others. Loyalty is expresses in multiple ways, but certain actions can lead to unfaithfulness. The quality of loyalty can be portrayed through strength and true servitude. Beowulf is a warrior who stands against anything to prove his strength. Grendel is a ferocious man-eating beast, and Beowulf takes him down. “… He twisted in pain, and the bleeding sinews deep in his shoulder snapped, muscle and bone split and broke…” (Beowulf, 816-818).

Quote Of Loyalty

In this quote, Beowulf has defeated Grendel, the beast that no man ever dared to fight. He also portrays his loyalty by serving his people. Beowulf believed his sole purpose in life was to serve his people.

When we crossed the sea, my comrades and I, I already knew that all my purpose was this: to win the good will of your people, or die in battle…

Beowulf, 632-635

Beowulf only wanted to serve and protect in his life, nothing more. By using strength for good and serving the people, loyalty is depicted.

The quality of faith is depicted in Siddhartha through the actions of sacrifice and trust. Siddhartha was never a selfish individual. He gave to the poor.

Siddhartha gave his clothes to a poor Brahmin on the road and only retained his loincloth and earth-colored unstitched cloak…

Hesse, 13

He sacrificed his clothes for the well being of another person. He also showed his faith by practicing the semana’s teachings.

Siddhartha sat upright and learned to save his breath, to manage with little breathing, to hold his breath. 

Hesse, 14

He practiced how to maintain his breath, which was a quality acquired from living with the semanas. Siddhartha cared for the people that were around him and respected who he lived with. The quality of faith can be attained by munificent and respectful actions. Even though an individual may seem loyal, certain actions can depict unfaithfulness. From the two stories, Beowulf was the more wise and loyal character. He gave his life protecting his people. 

… Know that the Geats are leaderless, have lost the best of kings, Beowulf- he who held out enemies away…

Beowulf, 3,iii-3,v

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Theme Of Faith In Beowulf

At the end of the poem, Beowulf lost his life in a fight with a dragon to save his people. All of his actions portray loyalty and faith. On the contrary… Siddhartha had become tainted. His goal was to reach nirvana, when he started taking part in business and grew exposed to money. “ Give him a third of the profits of the business which he conducts for you, but let him share the same proportion of losses if ant arise…” (Hesse, 67). Everything Siddhartha had learned through self-preservation had gone to waste. His character had changed whereas Beowulf had remained true.

Conclusion

As of result, loyalty requires a strong, true character, when simple actions can result in unfaithfulness. Loyalty and faith may be portrayed in various ways, however, require discipline to attain. In Siddhartha, the main character had some faith, but at one point he started down a wrong path which did not lead to enlightenment or nirvana. In “ Beowulf”, the main character was constantly boasting about his strength and power, which he still used it for good and remained loyal. The qualities of a loyal and faithful character need discipline to be attained because the character must remain true.