Beowulf an Archetype in Modern Life?Beowulf is the archetype of the dragon slayer; the hero who faces death in order to save a threatened community. Does Beowulf remind you of any heroes in real...
Beowulf is the archetype of the dragon slayer; the hero who faces death in order to save a threatened community. Does Beowulf remind you of any heroes in real life, fiction, movies today? What characteristics do the heroes share?
Initially in A Tale of Two Cities, the character of Sydney Carton parodies the Germanic warrior of works such as Beowulf who were the "shoulder-companions" (Wikipedia) of their lords: Carton, an intelligent barrister, is the legal genius for his partner, Mr. Stryver, who "shoulders his way through life." Thus, Stryver uses ("shoulders") Carton to make himself seem clever.
However, in later chapters Carton does become the brave hero who assumes the identity of another man (Charles Darnay) and saves this man by sacrificing himself for Darnay and his family. Carton's death also offers reparation for the wrongs of the French aristocracy to which Darnay belongs.
So, just as the German warrior society is defined in terms of kinship, so too, is the relationship of Carton to the Darnays as he loves the family dearly. For his valor, Carton knows that he goes to his eternal reward.
Any of our "superheroes" based on comic books remind me of Beowulf. The one that immediately comes to mind is Superman. He is the "ultimate" superhero and one that can most easily be compared to Beowulf. Both of them are large, intimidating men who have superhuman strength. Both of them know that their superhuman qualities are unusually special and that they must use them to help humankind. Both of them are very confident heroes, although Beowulf, in my opinion, is a bit on the arrogant side, at times. Beowulf dies at the end of the poem because he knows he must save his people. He is now old, so he surely knows he cannot win, yet he remains loyal to his people and is willing to sacrifice his own life just to save his people.