Archetypal Characters Abound in Beowulf

2193 Words Apr 15th, 2014 9 Pages
Archetypal Characters Abound in Beowulf

“Have you heard the story of “The Scorpion and the Frog”? A frog comes upon a scorpion and pleads for his life. The scorpion says he will not kill the frog if the frog takes him across the river. The frog asks, “How do I know you won’t kill me as I carry you?” The scorpion replies, “If I were to strike you, we would both surely die.” Thinking it over, the frog agrees and halfway across the river the scorpion strikes the frog in the back. As they both start to drown, the frog asks, “Why did you strike me? Now we will both die.” The scorpion replies with his last breath, “Because it is in my nature.” Developing characters using archetypes helps readers understand why heroes, villains and other
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"Often, for undaunted courage, fate spares the man it has not already marked." (Line 572-573) All of these traits illustrate first hand that Beowulf can be classified as nothing less than a true hero.
Just as Beowulf works to maintain his image as a hero, Unferth, struggles to keep people from recalling his position in society as an outcast. His position as a lowly man is evident “from where he crouched at the king’s feet.” (Line 499) Unferth has no glory of his own to share; he is extremely resentful of the accolades Beowulf receives; he resents Beowulf’s status as a hero in society.(1C) “Beowulf’s coming, his sea-braving, made him sick with envy: he could not brook or abide the fact that anyone else alive under heaven might enjoy greater regard than he did.” (Lines 501-502) Bitterness causes Unferth to lash out at Beowulf. He attempts to publicly humiliate him by proving that he lost a swimming match to his rival Breca and that he will not last against Grendel. This proves that Unferth is trying to make himself not so pathetic by demeaning Beowulf in public. “So Breca made good his boast upon you and was proved right. No matter, therefore, how you may have fared in every bout and battle until now, this time you’ll be worsted; no one has ever outlasted an entire
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