The epic Beowulf shows us how a mans’ character is tested as he encounters
difficult situations. The unknown author of Beowulf, leaves behind a mystique, an
intriguing quality with which the character which hold our interest. The modern-day
hero, Superman, also possesses these same qualities. Their modest actions are what
helped these hero’s to become their peoples’ “ideal man.”
The first quality that earns a person’s respect between Beowulf and Superman is
wealth. Neither of these men had a considerable amount of money. This helps the every
day man relate to them more easily. In the epic, Beowulf’s home is far away from his
lord’s castle. We get the sense that Beowulf is an outcast because of the lengthy distance
to reach his kingdom. In stories such as these, the outcasts are perceived to be the poorer
of the people in the kingdom. Like Beowulf, Superman lives in seclusion from the
society in which he lives. He apartment is purposely set on the opposite side of town
from everyone he works with. In relation to the common man’s life-style, we can easily
assume that Superman does not make much money. This fact is defined by Superman’s
day job as a reporter for the city of Metropolis.
The “ideal man” of past and present has to posses the quality of intelligence.
Beowulf shows great intelligence in his approach towards his battles. In his battle with
Grendel, Beowulf uses a soldier for a decoy to expose Grendel’s strengths:
Grendel snatched at the first Geat
He came to, ripped him apart, cut
His body to bits with powerful jaws,
Drank the blood from his veins and bolted
Him down, hands and feet; death
And Grendel’s great teeth came together,
Snapping life shut. The he stepped to another
Still body, clutched at Beowulf with his claws,
Grasped at a strong-hearted wakeful sleeper
-And was instantly seized himself. . .(Raffel 314-323).
This passage shows us how Beowulf’s planning ahead led him to victory. By exposing the monster’s strengths as well as his tactics, Beowulf was able to counter-attack the monster and win. The second time when Beowulf shows us...