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Comparing and Contrasting Beowulf and Odysseus Essay

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The characters of Beowulf and Odysseus can be considered a contrast between ice and fire wherein one and is violent and uses its strength to consume and subdue while the other is cool and calculating preferring a patient yet affective approach to solving problems. When referring to the characteristics of fire and ice I am referring to Beowulf as fire and Odysseus as ice this is due to the fact that Beowulf uses his brute strength and force of will to combat his foes while Odysseus uses his cunning and wit to trick his foes into submissions.

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Analysis of Beowulf

In the epic of Beowulf, he conquers and defeats 3 enemies, first is Grendel, then the mother of Grendel then finally a dragon. In all three instances Beowulf comes out on top not through using his mind rather by using his enormous strength. In the fight between him and Grendel he used his bare hands to kill the creature since no mortal weapon could supposedly kill it, when fighting the mother of Grendel he was able to escape death due to the armor he was wearing and was able to defeat the creature through the sheer luck of finding a massive sword nearby capable of beheading it.

Towards the end of the epic when Beowulf fought the dragon he was able to defeat it only at the cost of his own life and this was due to the fact that his men abandoned him when they saw the fearsomeness of the dragon. From all these examples you can see that Beowulf is a character similar to that of Hercules in Greek mythology who is a slave to his emotions, uses his brute strength to solve problems instead of his brains and in the end succumbs to death by means of fire (Hercules died on a funeral pyre while Beowulf was mortally wounded by a dragon which is an embodiment of fire).

We can conclude that in a sense Beowulf was a powerful hero who was famous for his strength but not for his brains, this particular characteristic might be due to the fact that since epic of Beowulf was Germanic in origin and the area at the time of the poems writing was a harsh wasteland the poem embodied elements that would have been relatable to people at the time who valued strength to endure the harsh the environment rather than intelligences. Analysis of Odysseus Odysseus is presented in both the story of Troy and that of the Odysseus as a person who possessed a modicum of great strength but was more famous for his wisdom and intellect.

In the story of Troy he was the one who devised the means of entering the gated city by using a massive wooden horse that contained hidden troops that able to enter the city walls, open the gate and let the invasions force in. Throughout the Odyssey we see that Odyssey continuously uses hs mind to escape dire situations, from his escape from the Cyclops that tried to eat him and his men, to charming the witch Circe, to convincing the Phaeacians to lend him a boat to get back to Ithaca, throughout the story we see how Odysseus uses his mind to triumph and escape from most situations.

In a sense we can say that Odysseus is the embodiment of a hero that the ancient Greeks admired since he possessed all the qualities that they valued namely an intelligent mind, great strength and above all empathy for his fellow man. Analysis of Beowulf and Odysseus All in all both characters were embodiments of the traits valued by the regions where their tales emerged as such you can say that both Beowulf and Odysseus were ideals that the local populace in their regions wanted to become or live up to.

In the end both heroes have their own defining traits and it isn’t exactly a case of who is the better hero but rather who better embodied the spirit of the region they were created in. List of References Hamilton, Edith. “Mythology Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes. ” (1942). Warner Books, New York. “The Incredible Voyage of Ulysses. ” Publishers Weekly 257. 8 (2010): 65. KAKUTANI, MICHIKO. “Odysseus Engages In Spin, Heroically. ” New York Times (2010): 1 Clausen, Christopher. “Epic Distinction. ” Archaeology 63. 2 (2010): 8. Moen, Christine Boardman. “Stepping into the Classics. ” Book Links 19. 3 (2010): 43-46.

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