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A Comparison Of Oedipus And Beowulf

874 words - 3 pages

The characters Oedipus and Beowulf represent two different types of heroes. Oedipus is a
tragic hero and characterized by its standards. He was an influential man of stature who had a
tragic flaw. While he contributed to his own downfall, Oedipus was not entirely responsible for it.
He also learned a lesson from his mistakes which ultimately creates a catharsis in the reading
audience. Beowulf, on the other hand, is characterized by the standards of an epic hero. He
strives for excellence and individual glory by doing heroic deeds. He has an admirable set of
ethics, is great warrior, and is very loyal to his master. Beowulf is also rewarded for his deeds
with fame and fortune. Although both of these men are heroes, the individual circumstances
which allow them to achieve this status vary greatly.
Oedipus was a man of power and high social status. This was due to his position as King
of Thebes. He was greatly respected by his people because he had ruled well during his reign as
king. Oedipus did, however, have a tragic flaw which was his inability to control his anger. This
lack of self-control is illustrated when Oedipus kills his father in an argument over the right of
way in a road. Oedipus' anger is also exhibited when he yells at the prophet Tiresias for telling
him the truth about his mistakes.
Oedipus' downfall was partially his own fault, although it was not entirely deserved.
Oedipus made the choices in his life that brought him into contact with his parents. He also
choose to kill a man in a fit of rage. He had control over all of these factors, but it can be argued
that he was destined from the beginning to commit these deeds no matter how Oedipus tried to
prevent them. Oedipus' inability to control his tragic temper ultimately led him to commit this
horrendous acts (Fergusson 388).
Despite the awful acts committed by Oedipus, he learned a very important lesson. He
discovered that fate cannot be changed. This was proven to Oedipus when he finally learned what
he had done through Tiresias. Oedipus, by trying so hard to succeed in his obligation to free
Thebes from the curse, caused his own undoing (Fergusson 388). This moment of realization for
Oedipus causes a catharsis of emotion among the audience. They feel pity for Oedipus, who
unknowingly and unwittingly committed these deeds.
Beowulf is, however, a completely different type of hero. Beowulf is surrounded by fame,
glamour, and fortune. He is an uncommonly great warrior and has performed many heroic feats.
By the end of his life, Beowulf has beaten Brecca in a swimming race, killed Grendel, killed
Grendel's mother,...

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