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Leah N.



Honors English IV

There are many similarities and differences between the movie "Beowulf and Grendel",
to the poem. Major differences between the movie and the poem would be Grendel himself. In
the poem, he is described as an evil monster born from two demons. In the movie, Grendel is a
human, but known as a troll to the warriors and Danes. The poem doesn’t give the background of
Grendel or show how the Danes killed his father and the possible reason of his revenge, like in
the movie. If the witch, Selma, was not included in the storyline of the movie, the audience
would not have known key information that she was used to show from more flashbacks.

The poem does not give this insight of what happens before, or from Grendel's point of
view. Seeing this scene in the movie gives the audience a better understanding of why Grendel
and his mother attack the Danes. Later in the movie Beowulf says, "He's no more human than
you and I", which is true. If the Danes didn’t kill Grendel's father, the outcome of the story could
have possibly been changed because Grendel would have had a different life and not seek
revenge on the Danes, specifically the one who Grendel had seen kill his father. In the poem
Grendel fights Beowulf, rather than avoiding Beowulf most of the time in the movie. In the
poem, Grendel is seen as an evil monster that kills and eats the Hrothgar warriors and cannot be
penetrated by weapons, rather than just human, or troll, like the movie. When the battle with
Grendel occurs in the poem, it is said that Beowulf had cut off his arm to defeat him. While in
the movie, Grendel finds himself stuck hanging, and must cut off his own arm to escape from
Beowulf and his men. Both the movie and poem result in the death of Grendel, eventually
leading to the revenge of his mother. The battle between Beowulf and Grendel's mother has its
similarities and differences as well.

In Grendel, the story is told from Grendel's point of view. Therefore, he is not viewed as a
killing machine. In Beowulf however, it is the exact opposite. Grendel is seen as a monster who
is terrorizing Hrothgar's people. The way Grendel is portrayed in Grendel is different from the
way he is portrayed in Beowulf regarding his initiative and purpose. Grendel is portrayed the
same in both stories when it comes to his actions and his nature. Grendel's initiative in Grendel is
mainly self-defense. Grendel was the one who was mistreated first by the humans. It started
when he was simply observing the humans and he got caught in a tree. He was then attacked by a
bull and several humans. He did not act on the humans first.

"He found them sprawled in sleep, suspecting nothing, their dreams undisturbed. The
monster's thoughts were as quick as his greed or his claws." He is said to not have a method to
his madness. In Beowulf it seemed that he got pleasure out of killing. Although there are several
differences in the way Grendel is described, there are also several things that are the same in both
Grendel and Beowulf. One aspect of Grendel that is alike in both stories is the way he acts. In
Grendel the monster kills many people. He does it very brutally too. "Enough of that! A night for
tearing heads off, bathing in blood. Except, alas, h has killed his quota for the season. Care, take
care of the gold-egg-laying goose! There is no limit to desire but desire's needs." This was
Grendel's law. He does not take pity on any human. From his point of view, the humans deserved
this and they were going to get it. These actions are the same in Beowulf Grendel is undoubtedly
a killer. He is does not take pity on the humans at all. When he fights them, he fights and kills
ferociously. Grendel is a monster. He has instincts that he cannot overcome. It is almost a kind of
creature nature that tells him what to do. He does not have a solid reason for killing these
humans brutally other than the fact that they started this war with him. When asked why, Grendel
asks why not.

Tainted Tone There are two sides to every story. The events may be the same, but the tone
in which the story is told shapes the reader’s understanding of the events. This idea is never more
evident than through the disparity between Burton Raffel’s translation of Beowulf and John
Gardner’s Grendel. Both novels are based on the idea of Beowulf killing Grendel. However, the
two different points of view telling the story create vastly different novels. Beowulf highlights
the heroic and positive world in which Beowulf lives. Whereas Grendel elucidates on the
miserable life that Grendel is circumscribed to. The consistent variance in tone skews the events
in two completely different directions.

Reading that, the audience clearly can tell that Beowulf is no average person, and that he
is experienced with wisdom. With Beowulf portrayed as a polished individual the reader comes
to respect Beowulf’s actions and words much more. Grendel, however, is portrayed as an
immature child. His childishness is noted through his actions, but is even more obvious through
his words. When Grendel’s foot gets caught in a trap, his words confirm his pupilage: “Owp!” I
yelled. “Mama! Waa!” (Gardner 18). It sounds like something a five year old would say. The
tone makes it blatantly obvious how immature Grendel really is. Grendel depends on his mother
rescue to continue surviving. The tone illustrates the immense difference between the mature
Beowulf, leader of the Geats, and the immature Grendel, an aimless creature. As a result of the
varying tone sophistication, each novel demands a different level of seriousness from the
audience. Can tone really change our perception of an event? The contrast between Beowulf and
Grendel proves that tone dictates the way the audience comprehends the plot. The positive
perception of Beowulf and negative perception of Grendel shape their outlook on life as a whole.
When Beowulf succeeds he points to god as the source of the righteousness, while Grendel
attributes his failure and the world’s unfairness to god.

Both Beowulf and Achilles are poetic characters, who hail from different eras of history
and different cultural backgrounds. While each is unique in his own way, the two heroes also
share similar characteristics. This paper will compare and contrast the medieval Germanic hero
Beowulf with the classical Greek hero Achilles (of Homer's Iliad), and show how the two are
similar and how the two are different. The first way in which both characters are similar is in the
fact that they both travel from great distances to take part in a battle against some evil. In the
medieval Germanic epic, Beowulf leaves his people the Geats of Scandinavia to help Hrothgar,
the king of the Danish people, to kill Grendel, a monster who attacks the king's hall and devours
the king's men. Beowulf slays Grendel but then must challenge Grendel's mother in order to
restore Hrothgar's kingdom to safety. Likewise, Achilles joins the other Greeks and travels to
Troy to do battle against Paris, Hector and the other Trojans for having abducted Helen, the wife
of Menelaus. Achilles performs many heroic deeds on the battleground and adds renown to his
name among the Greeks. Both Beowulf and Achilles are also incredibly strong. Their powers
seem, in fact, extraordinary and superhuman. For example, Beowulf has powerful lungs and is
able to hold his breath for impossible lengths of time while underwater.

Achilles and Beowulf were two characters that had an amazing power that made his name
lives for hundreds of years. Great warriors need some to have some specific characteristics to
reach their fame because we have seem in some heroes that they have gods strong, a unique way
to be and goals to achieve. Comparing the character of Achilles and Beowulf who were two of
the best warrior of the history we could know if there are an outline to be a great warrior. Great
warrior always are know because their incredible ability to survive in very hard situation where a
normal human could not survive but they do thanks that great warriors have a extranormal

One of the best way to remember someone is because that person was unique or
completely different to the others, that was what great warriors like Achilles and Beowulf did.
These two characters made incredible actions that influenced that their names were remember for
a long time; Beowulf looks like any other warrior, he followed the code of a great warrior and
also the code of the heroes, things that just a few people used to do but Beowulf had and special
kind to be he was arrogant because he know the strong that he had and he did crazy things that
always at the final those actions looks very intelligent for example when he fought with grandal,
he decided to fight without armor because he wanted a right fight without to have advantage
everybody thought that he was crazy but at the final they saw that it was very intelligent because
grendel was immune to weapons so he only could be affected by normal hits like punch or kicks
that was what Beowulf did. Achilles had a unique kind to be it was similar to the kind to be of
Beowulf but it was not equal; Achilles was arrogant too but the difference between Beowulf and
Achilles was that Achilles was more arrogant and he never did things that will not benefit to him
in something.

According to the Merriam- Webster dictionary Vengeance or revenge is defined as “a

punishment inflicted in retaliation for an injury or offense”. Vengeance could be classified as a
form of justice at times. And is seen through Beowulf and Iliad. In Beowulf, it seen through
numerous characters. Revenge is a unique emotion in which is can be very motivating to
accomplish a certain task, to serve for justice. In Iliad, Achilles using the feeling of Revenge to
complete his journey. Comparing the two stories, vengeances is shown in both, and both stories
have a unique way of related the events of the story to the events and the culture and society at
the time the stories were written.

The love a mother shares for her child is unexpectedly powerful, and although Grendel 's
mother may be weaker and smaller in size compared to Beowulf, she has he own advantages, as
she is fighting in her own cave which was under the lake. She put up a fight under her mother’s
fury, and her spike and heath of revenge as she realizes that it was Beowulf that killed her son,
although Beowulf defeated her with the help of his weapons and his skills from being a warrior.
Grendel’s mom was the first fight of revenge within the poem, and it served as a warning to
mankind, that everyone must not fight based purely on revenge, and it will not end in favor of the
city. It therefore, proves that that holding on to someone or something for long periods of time,
could eventually destroy oneself mentally or physically. It is interesting to that the revenge of
Grendel’s mother almost was a example to take not, that revenge doesn’t solve our problems, this
seems to be mentioned again at the end of the poem by Wiglaf. Another example of revenge seen
in the poem Beowulf is the Germanic tribe. With this example, it is unique in the sense that the
Germanic tribe was used in hopes of peace in Garland. Hrothgar was hoping to make peace by
having his daughter marry into the Hathobards. Although upon, Beowulf return, he saw that this
plan had its flaws and was unsure of the success of the plan.

Beowulf and Achilles Beowulf is a story about a man named Beowulf who desired fame
and fortune in life. The Iliad had a character named Achilles who is similar to Beowulf because
he also desired glory. But they are two completely different stories written at different times and
different places by different people. Both stories have unique qualities such as dragons in one
and multi-gods in the other and that is what makes fictitious stories like these classics. Since
achieving fame is a goal of these two characters, and since these are great works of literature,
people can relate to wanting to be famous in life.

After Hector’s death, Achilles would drag the body every morning around his army base
three times to show the accomplishment he had made in the war. The gods didn’t really agree
with him though because they kept healing Hector’s body (not back to life though). “...All his
wounds sealed shut, wherever they struck... and many drove their bronze blades through his
body”. Eventually, Priam (with help of gods) got Achilles to sell Hector’s body back for a bunch
of priceless goods. “Give (Hector) back to me, now, no more delay – I must see my son with my
own eyes” (The Iliad, ln 650 – 651, p 212). Being begged by a king increases his fame just
because a king doesn’t usually do that, especially in this case. Priam gets the body and buries it
and that’s the end of The Iliad. Whereas in Beowulf, written by an anonymous poet, is about a
man who is very strong. He travels to a distant land to kill a couple monsters and earn glory for
himself. The quest begins when Beowulf heads to the Danish castle. He is a Geat by the way. His
king is Higlac and Beowulf asked him if he could travel the seas to earn glory for himself by
helping out the Danish and their king, Hrothgar. When Beowulf finally got to Hrothgar, Hrothgar
was glad to see him; he seemed to have a lot of faith in Beowulf. “Our Holy Father has sent him
as a sign of His grace, a mark of His favor, to help us defeat Grendel and end that terror”
(Beowulf, ln 381 – 384).

Beowulf Vs. Achilles The Old English poem, Beowulf, doesn’t have an author. Nobody is
one hundred percent sure about the history of Beowulf. All they know is that its about a warrior
and a monster in conflict. Homer wrote “The Iliad,” roughly a thousand years before Beowulf.
They were both a part of the ancient Greek world. Though Homer was blind, some scholars
believe that a philosopher as a blind man had an exceptional inner vision. (72) The theme
revolves around the war between Greece and Troy in twelve hundred B.C. Beowulf and Achilles
both fulfill their role of an epic hero by making sacrifices, following the rules by their own
individual beliefs and cultures.

As you know, Old English stories like these ones have their own individual beliefs and
cultures. Around this period of time, twelve hundred B.C., it is important to follow the culture
and beliefs they were born into or developed together along the way. Achilles believed it was
only fair to torture the one who killed his best friend, as to Beowulf who was not one to seek
revenge. “Indeed, he had in mind for Hector’s body outrage and shame. Behind both feet he
pierced the tendons, heel to ankle. Rawhide cords he drew through both and lashed them to his
chariot, letting the mans head trail.” (246-250) Homer. Achilles had in mind a vulgar plan on
how to dispose of Hector’s body in the worst way possible. He tied Hector to his chariot, by his
feet, and drove to drag his body into pieces until he was dismantled. The Greek warrior, Achilles,
found no mercy in Hector for killing Potroclus. He did what any other Greek warrior would’ve
done for a loved one. Their belief in revenge is so strong and profound that it could lead them to
the death of a person. Achilles and Beowulf both had an abundance amount of acts of bravery.
That is the strongest trait that they share. They never cared how dangerous a situation might have
been, they always went in for the kill.

The epics of Beowulf and Gilgamesh are about a pair of heroes who had many common
characteristics as well as characteristics that contradict one another. Beowulf is a Christian epic
that roots from the Anglo-Saxon culture. Throughout the plot, there are numerous biblical
allusions. “Grendel who haunted the moors, the wild Marshes, and made his home in a hell not
hell but earth. He was spawned in that slime, conceived by a pair of monsters born of Cain,
murderous creatures banished By God,” (from Beowulf part one, translated by Burton Raffel pg.
21, lines 17-21) Gilgamesh is a story from the Mesopotamian culture, which is now present-day

Beowulf has numerous battles. He fights with Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and a dragon.
Going into these fights, Beowulf already had God’s favor, because Grendel and his mother were
descendants of Cain, and they were from hell. “Hail to those who will rise to God, drop off their
dead bodies, and seek our Father’s peace.” (from Beowulf part one, translated by Burton Raffel
pg 23 lines 101-103). Although Gilgamesh is favored by many gods and Beowulf is favored by
one god, it is this favor that makes them both heroes. In contrast, Beowulf and Gilgamesh had
different endings to their lives. Beowulf died after his battle with the dragon. “That final day was
the first time when Beowulf fought and fate had denied him glory in battle.” (from Beowulf Part
two translated by Seamus Heaney pg 45 lines 723-725) Gilgamesh’s life went a bit different. He
eventually died, but in the story, he went on a journey to find the secret to everlasting life.

The hero of Beowulf, one of the oldest written Germanic epics, is a leader of the Geats
and a hero unlike all others before him. He is able to conquer foes that no one else can, and he
charges into every battle with the full force that he can muster, without any of the encumbrances
that others may have. His greatest desire is fame and glory, and he performs whatever difficult
tasks he believes will bring him closer to that goal. Beowulf’s quest for power drives him to seek
fame by challenging Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and finally a giant dragon that causes his death.

Hrothgar is a wise old king who has seen the dangers that the world has to offer. He
warns Beowulf that power and pride are not the only things worth seeking because they are
temporary, and when one’s guard is down, other forces will attack viciously. Hrothgar recognizes
Beowulf’s obsession with power and warns him against single-mindedly pursuing it. However,
Beowulf is unable to restrain his desire for more power, even after he has achieved the glory that
killing Grendel had to offer and has been made the leader of a vast kingdom. He goes after the
fire-breathing dragon at the end of the story, knowing that in his old age he is likely to die and
leave his land and kingdom unguarded. Though the dragon is threatening the Geats, he states his
reasons for fighting it: “I risked my life / often when I was young. Now I am old, / but as king of
the people I shall pursue this fight / for the glory of winning” (2511 - 2514). It is clear that
Beowulf knows he is risking his life — even more so because of his old age and waned strength
— “for the glory of winning”. He doesn’t do it to save his citizens from the dragon, but to make
his name eternal and to win him a ticket into Valhalla for his bravery. This is not only a selfish
action, but since he does this without considering the bigger picture regarding his citizens, it also
has negative consequences for them.

Compare and Contrast of Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Beowulf is an
epic poem that was written in the Anglo-Saxon time period where only a few privileged people
were able to read and write while Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, which is also an epic poem,
was written in the Middle English time period where reading and writing was more wide-spread.

To his credit, Sir Gawain does withstand the advances of a married woman three times.
Both men have fights they have won, but Sir Gawain overcame his fear of death in order to
fulfill a duty. Beowulf died protecting his people even when his comrades abandoned him (with
the exception of Wiglaf). The final comparison is not of the protagonists of the epic novels but of
the forces of nature in both. In Anglo-Saxon times, being immersed in nature meant your demise
was not far; there were more vast areas of uninhabited wilderness than in the Middle English era.
Since the Germanic people possessed limited resources, they would not leave their villages -
especially during the winter months when it would snow. In Beowulf, the antagonists (Grendel,
his mom, and the dragon) were embodiments of different aspects of negativity and nature. The
people took shelter whenever Grendel would attack in the same manner that someone would take
shelter from a hurricane or severe thunderstorm. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the Green
Knight himself is the embodiment of nature and the people of the time had a more positive
outlook of nature. For example, the description of his appearance in line 151 through 200 and
that he wields a branch of holly (for life) and an axe (for death) show that the Green Knight is the
author’s personification of nature.

“My body, but for your blood, is barren of worth; And tis I have asked for this folly not
fit for a King.” These are the words of a true hero. One who is willing to sacrifice his own
existence for the life of another. These are the words and actions of Sir Gawain, a character from
the beloved British tale, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Beowulf, another character from an
ancient British epic entitled, Beowulf, is also portrayed as a “hero.” But Beowulf’s heroism
factor does not even compare to Sir Gawain’s. The difference between Beowulf and Sir Gawain,
is that Sir Gawain is a real hero, and Beowulf just thinks he is.

The two heroes can be compared in many ways. But Sir Gawain, along with his muscular
build, contains a strong and stable heart. Sir Gawain and Beowulf’s morals and values can not be
compared so easily, though. The two heroes’ ethics contrast each other greatly. Beowulf seems to
have little morals that he lives by. His pride in himself and loyalty to his country are surely
characteristics of a hero, but it seems throughout the whole epic poem he boasts about how
wonderful he is, which was one of the main reasons I did not like him. Sir Gawain never shows a
sign of arrogance, only selflessness, honesty, and his loyalty to the code of Chivalry. Beowulf
almost seems barbaric, going out to conquer the monster so he can add to his list of over-
exaggerated achievements. Sir Gawain sticks to his word, and seeks out the Green Knight as
promised, like a true hero would. There is no doubt that Beowulf has the history and
accomplishments of a hero. He “drove five giants into chains,” and defeated the man-eating
swamp creature, Grendel. But in Beowulf’s story there is not one line in which he shows the
strengths of his own heart. Of course we can argue this against Sir Gawain, saying that he did not
give the green girdle to his host as he promised. But Sir Gawain did refuse to accept the host’s
wife, and he does give the dagger to his host also. Sir Gawain also kept true to his vow to find
the Green Knight and receive his beheading.

Literature has changed and developed over the course of time. Despite these alterations,
however, there are certain archetypes that can be recognized in every work. Often a hero emerges
from a literary piece and embarks on the quest of saving his or her jeopardized community. In
addition, the courageous hero often becomes the symbolic figure by representing the esteemed
cultural ideals of the community. Such is the case in the works Beowulf from the Anglo-Saxon
period and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight from the Late Middle Ages. Both heroes Beowulf
and Sir Gawain represent certain customs for their respective communities; however, the three
hundred and fifty years between these two works contribute to the contrasting views in the
definition of the aforementioned standards. Through a thorough examination of the Monomyth, a
pattern identified in Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces, a paradigm shift of cultural
values such as valor between the works Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is
Although each story is composed of its own unprecedented call to adventure, altogether,
the archetype never fails its ultimate purpose: to awaken the hero from slumber. In Beowulf, the
call to adventure surfaces as a threat to the community and, in this case, the threat is the devilish
figure Grendel wreaking havoc in the grand Danish mead-hall Heorot. Miles away in Geatland,
the tales of the undefeatable and menacing foe in Daneland compel Beowulf to set sail.