Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Beowulf Essay

Yeah... I finally wrote this thing.... you should read it..... It's about Mario (nerd and proud) ^_^

Beowulf and Mario: Heroes

Beowulf and Mario are two epic heroes, widely known by and indicative of their respective societies. Beowulf was the hero of Old England, with his tales of battle and glory passed down through the years in the epic poem Beowulf. Mario is the new hero of our generation, fighting Bowser and saving his princess in a series of video games that bring back nostalgia for many of us. As heroes, Beowulf and Mario have many qualities in common, such as bravery, strength, and fighting prowess, which are values shared by both of their cultures. Furthermore, the characteristics that distinguish them from one another, like Beowulf's position as prince of the Geats and Mario's relationship with Princess Peach, reflect the dichotomy between their societies' values.

Beowulf and Mario are both characterized by their courage, fighting abilities, and strength; they are considered heroes because of how they battle evil to protect others. For example, in the epic story Beowulf, the eponymous hero fights and defeats Grendel, Grendel's mother, and the dragon. Additionally, in his monologue (lines 407-455), he boasts to Hrothgar, "I battled and bound five beasts, raided a troll-nest and in the night-sea slaughtered sea-brutes. I have suffered extremes and avenged the Geats (their enemies brought it upon themselves, I devastated them)." By bragging to Hrothgar about his fighting prowess first, it means that fighting prowess is what Beowulf, and therefore Old English society as a whole, values most. Likewise, Mario is regarded as a hero because of how he repeatedly defends the Mushroom Kingdom from evil. This is emphasized by the fact that Mario is a common plumber; without royal heritage, he has made himself a hero only by his triumphs against Bowser and other villains. This shows that both Beowulf's Old English society and Mario's modern society value and respect strength and bravery as heroic qualities.

While Beowulf is a prince and a leader of other warriors, Mario has no royal blood and always works alone. Beowulf makes extensive use of kennings, or descriptive word pairs used in place of other nouns. For example, the sea is called a "whale-road" (line 10) and a "sea-road" (lines 1429 and 2379), and a lord is called a "giver of rings" (line 353). Since Beowulf is the Geats' prince and later their king, his name is often replaced by kennings like "warrior prince" (line 1063), "prince of the Weather-Geats" (lines 1492 and 2656), "war-king" (lines 2336 and 2678), and "king of the Geats" (line 2757), showing how highly his leadership is valued. For each of his three battles in the story, Beowulf brings a group of Geats with him, which essentially makes him look like a greater warrior because of how the other warriors are following him. In contrast, Mario has no part in governing the Mushroom Kingdom, and almost always fights alone. Beowulf highly emphasizes its hero's leadership, while the Mario franchise doesn't at all. This is probably because in the Middle Ages, great warriors often became kings, so the two were equated. Now, however, leaders are politicians, and are usually perceived as stuffy and boring. Because of this, an Old English hero like Beowulf would naturally be presented as a leader, while a modern hero like Mario would not.

Beowulf and Mario differ greatly in their interaction with women; while Mario frequently saves the damsel-in-distress Princess Peach (who is also his implied love interest), Beowulf never marries and interacts with very few women in the story. In Beowulf, whenever women appear in the story, it is usually in a passive role or in some impressive display of manners. Wealhtheow salutes the warriors in Heorot, brings a goblet around to everyone, welcomes Beowulf, and is extremely impressed at his boasting (lines 612-641); Beowulf mentions Freawaru bringing ale to the warriors (lines 2020-2028), as her mother Wealhtheow did earlier; and Hygd is noted for her manners and generosity, then contrasted with her foil Modthryth (lines 1926-1957). The women are respected, but treated like servants or scenery, and don't have much of an effect on the storyline. Conversely, Princess Peach is always a central character in the Mario games as the damsel-in-distress whom the hero has to save. It is also heavily implied that Mario and Peach are in a romantic relationship. While neither present an image of women as strong and independent (except for the affirmative-action DS game Super Princess Peach), the Mario franchise pays women considerably more attention than Beowulf does. Beowulf's lack of interaction with women suggests that his society viewed women as uninteresting, meant only for roles of wives, mothers, servants, and standing there looking pretty, while Mario's relationship with his damsel-in-distress Princess Peach suggests that our society views women as somewhat helpless and needing protection, but worth paying attention to.

Overall, the similarities and differences between the two heroes Beowulf and Mario mirror the changes and continuities between Old English and modern values. Both cultures respect strength and bravery-- qualities which both Beowulf and Mario display. However, Old English society saw its leaders as more heroic than our society does, reflected by how Beowulf is a prince and Mario is a commoner. Finally, our society pays more attention to women than Old English society did, shown by the relative absence of women in Beowulf and Princess Peach's importance in the Mario franchise.

Thank you for reading! Comments are welcome (even though this post is rather late ^^;)

Before I decided on Mario as my modern hero, I actually made a big table as an outline of Beowulf vs. a whole list of possibilities (i.e. Mario, Link, Superheroes besides Batman, Batman, Finn, and Goku). Maybe I'll post that too for the lulz.

Also here's the original text I posted here so Maddi's comment makes sense:

working on it, 'cause i'm lame and haven't written it yet

it'll be posted tonight i promise

'cause everyone knows how good i am at keeping promises >.>

*angst in a corner*


  1. Your thesis is fantastic lisa. I love it so much. A lot of insight here. ;P
    hahah I'll be back to comment later. :)

    1. I was just thinking, "OK, now I posted it, but no one's gonna read it... wahh...." So that would be awesome if you commented :D