Macbeth vs Beowulf
Beowulf and Macbeth Beowulf, identified as an epic hero and Macbeth, identified as a tragic hero both are very similar and different in their own ways. The epic poem, Beowulf translated by Seamus Heaney and the tragic play, Macbeth, written by William Shakespeare both have heroes as the protagonist of the story. The stories written in two different time periods, still can be seen with many similarities and differences. A tragic hero is of high ranking and unfortunately has a flaw that they possess which brings them to their tragic downfall and soon accepts the consequences that are to come.
An epic hero is larger than life and is known to be noble and brave. Beowulf and Macbeth both possess traits of overconfidence through their actions but what is lacking between them is that Macbeth is ambitious whereas Beowulf is full of courage. In contrast Macbeth, Thane of Glamis and Beowulf, Thane of the Geats both became king through different methods. They became of higher power through overconfidence. Beowulf from beginning to end is always overconfident of himself. He becomes king because he is considered to be a good warrior, proud, and fearless.
Macbeth uses outside help, the witches, and relies on his own ways of becoming a higher rank. Macbeth uses his strengths to play everyone and this led him to be overconfident and boastful. Beowulf was always the stronger of the two because his confidence was already within him whereas Macbeth gains his confidence after he assassinated the king and got away with it. They both had a sense of boastfulness among them and believed they would never be brought down. Eventually this brought them down in the end.
Macbeth accepted the consequences of his actions in the end because he said “Bring it after me. I will not be afraid of death and bane…. ” (Macbeth. V. III. 59). Beowulf is killed by a dragon because he was always confident of himself and believed he would be able to defeat the dragon at an old age. Beowulf is given a proper and well respected burial whereas Macbeth is disliked and is not given the proper burial. Macbeth’s ambitiousness led him to being an overconfident character and Beowulf is a great warrior that everyone looked up to was full of pride and courage.
On the other hand, Macbeth and Beowulf are contrasted differently through the traits they display. Macbeth is more guided towards being an ambitious character which is his tragic flaw and Beowulf’s trait is full of courage. Being ambitious is to achieve something eagerly and this is what Macbeth yearned for. Macbeth shows plenty of ambition such as when he orders the kill on the king in order to become king himself. “The Prince of Cumberland! That is a step….. which the eye fears,when it is done, to see. ” (Macbeth. I. IV. 48).
Macbeth wants to kill the king because this is his desire as he heard from the witches. He is willing to kill anyone that prevents him from reaching higher rank. This is a display of great ambition. Macbeth’s ambition is of being in power over everyone and Macbeth even orders on his best friend Banquo because he suspects that Macbeth is ordering the killings in order to stay in higher power. Macbeth is power hungry and greedy due to his ambitiousness and in the end foresees his consequence and accepts the death that is to come.
Beowulf is full of courage and displays his courage throughout the epic poem. Courage is well displayed among a warrior in the Anglo-Saxon culture. He shows courage when he declares he will fight Grendel and defeats him. His courage is what keeps him alive because he believes that the gods will choose him over the monster. Also he displays courage when he hunts down Grendel’s mother and kills her also. Once Beowulf becomes king, he displays great leadership and courage among his people. In Anglo-Saxon times, Beowulf is viewed as the perfect hero.
These are the differences among the traits of the two heroes. In other words, Beowulf being an epic hero and Macbeth being a tragic hero can be compared and contrasted because of each unique trait and quality the two characters have. Macbeth being an ambitious character achieves his goal through corruption. He is power hungry and thrives to be king and by achieving his goal, he becomes ambitious and overconfident. Macbeth played everyone and acted innocent but this led to his tragic downfall because being ambitious can be a tragic trait.
Beowulf, on the other hand is full of courage and is considered to be an epic hero among the Anglo-Saxon people. They are very similar in their own ways such as being of high ranking but they have different methods of reaching a higher rank. Macbeth gets power hungry and becomes king as he makes his way through killing people. Beowulf gains respect among his people and becomes of higher ranking because he defeats monsters and is a courageous warrior. In conclusion, a epic hero and a tragic hero can have similar and different qualities among themselves.