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Unferth And Beowulf Compare Contrast Essay

The Characters' Personalities in "Grendel" and "Beowulf" Essay

1012 Words5 Pages

The book Grendel, written by John Gardner, and the poem Beowulf, translated by Seamus Heaney, both have very distinct opinions on what role each character plays. The translator of Beowulf and the writer of Grendel follow the idea that everyone has a story. A story is the writer’s perspective on a character’s personality, the way people in the story see and treat the character, and the way it ties the ideas together. There are many examples in these two writings of this concept, but the main instances connect with the lives of Grendel, Beowulf, and Unferth. Our first character, Grendel, is an exceptionally diverse character. It is implied that in both book and poem, Grendel is a blood-thirsty monster. All Grendel does is go through…show more content…

This way of thinking leads Grendel to be the assassin we know him as today.
A great character to include in this topic is Unferth. Unferth is a very out of the ordinary individual. In Beowulf, the writer’s perspective on Unferth is a pathetic warrior who couldn’t win even the simplest of fights. When first introduced in the poem Beowulf, it’s hard to feel sympathy for Unferth because he is in verbal conflict with Beowulf, insulting Beowulf. When switching to the outside view in the book Grendel, it becomes apparent that Unferth isn’t just doing this to pick a fight. Grendel has been his arch enemy ever since the twelve year war started. Unferth was embarrassed and infuriated in his first meeting with Grendel when Grendel said “I’m going to carry you back to Hrothgar, safe and sound” (p.90). The other people in the book think he’s supposed to be the savior of the kingdom, yet he can’t even come close to killing Grendel and when he does attempt to kill Grendel, Grendel just laughs and teases him. This idea of embarrassment drives Unferth mad with rage. When Beowulf comes along, he claims that he has done all these heroic and outstanding things. He makes the claim that Grendel is hardly a work out which infuriates Unferth. He has worked so hard to get revenge on Grendel and a warrior came from a distant land and claims to kill him like it is nothing. It is not

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A Dane, the son of Ecglaf, and a follower of Hrothgar. Unferth is presented as contrast to Beowulf, providing a glimpse of a poor warrior in contrast to Beowulf's good warrior. Unferth is boastful, just as Beowulf is, but unlike Beowulf Unferth lacks the moral courage to back up his boasts (and unlike Beowulf Unferth never does anything to stand against Grendel). Further, Unferth appears to be jealous of Beowulf and never responds to Beowulf's taunt that Unferth once killed his own brother, which could signal either Unferth's incompetence or some sort of moral failing. Unferth does become more generous after Beowulf defeats Grendel, and lends Beowulf his family sword to fight Grendel's mother.

Unferth Character Timeline in Beowulf

The timeline below shows where the character Unferth appears in Beowulf. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.

Beowulf, completely without fear of death, puts on his armor and grasps his weapons. Unferth lends Beowulf Hrunting, a sword that has never failed and has been passed down in... (full context)

In the morning Beowulf returns the sword Hrunting to Unferth, and thanks him for the loan even though the sword failed. (full context)

Florman, Ben. "Beowulf Characters: Unferth." LitCharts. LitCharts LLC, 22 Jul 2013. Web. 10 Mar 2018.

Florman, Ben. "Beowulf Characters: Unferth." LitCharts LLC, July 22, 2013. Retrieved March 10, 2018. http://www.litcharts.com/lit/beowulf/characters/unferth.

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