Siegfried vs Beowulf Essay examples

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“Any relations in a social order will endure, if there is infused into them some of that spirit of human sympathy which qualifies life for immortality.”

-George William Russell

Homer defines a hero as one who acquires and maintains honor through victory in battle while embracing a highly individualistic attitude. Homer’s epic warriors were self-interested in order to preserve their honor and to acquire fame--the currency used by the hero to achieve immortality. Heroes of this archetype often show a neglectful disregard for the lives of their warriors and supporting cast. This is symptomatic of their obsession with acquiring honor over building relationships (Dunkle). But how can a hero protect his fame
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Following the structure of the Homeric hero, Beowulf’s only concern is becoming king and dying gloriously in battle to get into Valhalla, a heaven reserved for the brave warriors who died fighting in combat. He is so blinded by his goals that he discounts the well-being of his men.
This is exemplified in the scene where Beowulf recounts his battle with Grendel to King Hrothgar. He fails to mention that one of his men played the role of the sacrificial lamb, while the others assisted in defeating the beast—the whole process was a joint effort. However, for the 20 lines of his recount, he emphasizes how “pleased” he is with Grendel writhing from pain, beaten by his bare hands (Heaney line 957-977). He is insinuating that he alone is responsible for the creature’s death. The only time the martyr is mentioned is when the chieftain gifting Beowulf’s men reveals that “one man’s daring prevented the doom [of killing more of the men]” (Heaney line 1056). This episode suggests that Beowulf is indifferent to the deaths of even those who are supposedly closest to him, as he remains emotionally undamaged while boasting about his defeat. His lack of sympathy disables him from creating a substantial bridge between him and his men. Siegfried, on the other hand, desires human interaction. Unlike Beowulf, he has an affinity for securing his relationships with others by developing strong loyalties

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