The current essay is aimed at comparison and contrast two heroes – Beowulf and Winston Churchill. It may seem unusual to compare a legendary ancient hero from a well-known Anglo-Saxon epic poem to a famous British political leader. Despite living in different historical epochs, both heroes possess a lot of similar features, including bravery, superiority, authoritative social status, and power. Beowulf and Churchill, however, are much more different heroes than it may seem to be. While for the ancient hero Beowulf, physical dominance and perfect authority are the most valuable features of character, modern heroes similar to Churchill are more complex and imply both positive and negative characteristics.
Beowulf and Churchill have much in common that can be seen vividly in their behavior and attitude to life challenges. Both Beowulf and Churchill are fearless and both have to face the war and overcome its drawbacks. Despite being from the different epochs, Beowulf and Churchill treat the war identically. They both see the war as the greatest challenge in their life. When Nazi Germany attacked Great Britain during the Second World War, Churchill organized the British people against the invasion. Churchill thinks of the war as the challenge for the whole country to develop resistance to totalitarian ideology.
Beowulf accepts the challenge of war in the same way, because he decides to attack Grendel with neither sword, nor armor. Beowulf knows that “nor finest of weapons of all on the earth, nor any of war-bills was willing to injure” (Beowulf, XIII, 11-13), because Grendel seems to be absolutely invulnerable. The hero, however, has no doubt to take a risk and attack Grendel. Being not afraid of possible death, Beowulf confirms his king status, social respect and acceptance. Fearless and bravery, therefore, are the most important features that unite both heroes. They behave alike in similar life situations, facing the troubles with dignity and courage.
For example, Churchill helped British soldiers to protect their country during the First World War. He took part in the country’s defense on his own. Churchill helped his soldiers to reconstruct and repair London after Hitler’s attacks. Similar to the famous British politician, Beowulf preferred to fight against his enemies on his own as well. Both Beowulf and Churchill possess cunning mind and analytical thinking. They both strived to treat the enemies in a creative way using cheating and various smart tricks. The heroes preferred to know when they had to strike the enemies, Hitler and Grendel. All these similar features make Churchill and Beowulf the individuals who did not back down from any challenge no matter how complicated and frightening it was.
Despite a lot of similarities, the heroes have numerous different features. For instance, while for Beowulf, physical dominance and emphasized masculinity are crucial to make him a hero, Churchill does not possess the same characteristics. For Churchill, cunning mind, analytical thinking, overseeing of the perspectives, and bravery are far more important, than masculinity. Churchill, therefore, demonstrates more complex characteristics, than straightforward and powerful Beowulf. He is not perfect in his moral behavior, since Churchill decides to transform “his romantic vision of soldiering as a means of service to his country into a broader conception of public service” (Keegan 327). Churchill studies historical background of political and philosophical approaches to social welfare and has found his own way to reform society. Beowulf, however, was not interested in philosophical background of general social problems. His task was simple and straightforward, as he had to attack the enemies, strengthen his status, and protect people dependent on him.
While for Beowulf, it is crucial to confirm own superiority and political authority, Churchill fights for organizing a system of support for the weak and reducing harshness in society. Beowulf is asked to protect the citizens and “be kind to the Geatmen” (Beowulf, XVIII, 49), and that means to show who is the true leader of the country. Churchill, however, is aimed at discovering the human needs and the background of safety and welfare. His views on social life demonstrate that Churchill was for liberal reforms that had to provide people with more freedom, independence, and rights. Philosophical background of these issues is of the great importance for Churchill, and that makes him fundamentally different from the ancient legendary hero Beowulf.
Two well-known heroes, Beowulf and Churchill, are both similar and different individuals, whose features of characters seem worthy and significant till today. They may seem absolutely different because of the different historical background, circumstances of life, and way they used to behave. A legendary ancient hero Beowulf illustrates the same bravery, fearless attitude to the war and challenges, as a well-known political leader of the XX century. Beowulf and Churchill used to stand out and protect ordinary people. They both are cunning and good analysts. They could control and oversee the situation almost perfectly. Churchill, however, is more complex hero, because he is not focused on physical superiority and masculinity, but strives to learn the new things about social management and welfare. Both heroes, therefore, are similar and different at the same time, and that makes them be the solid legendary authorities in poetic and political history.
- “Beowulf.” The Project Gutenberg. Web. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/16328/16328-h/16328-h.htm
- Keegan, John. Winston Churchill: A Life. New York: Penguin, 2007. Print.