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Beowulf/Spiderman Essay

Archetypal heroes obtain supernatural help in some way. In the Anglo-Saxon epic poem, Beowulf receives his help from God. Throughout the poem, there are references made to God and the Christian religion. Beowulf declares his success is because of God’s presence. In the modern-day New York City movie, Spiderman receives his help from science. Peter Parker gains his powers due to the innovations in the scientific world. Both heroes obtain help from something more significant than them to help their different societies, showing that each society relies on daily aid from God or science.

Another trait common to archetypal heroes is that an event leads to the adventure or quest the hero partakes in. For example, Beowulf’s family’s past and Grendel’s attacks lead to Beowulf coming to save the Geats. Beowulf realizes he must save the people because Hrothgar has helped his father out of debt earlier. The murder of Peter’s Uncle Ben causes Peter to use his new powers to help the people of New York City. Archetypal heroes are every day in epic works and serve to have qualities that ordinary people can identify with and recognize in themselves (Vogler 36).

Throughout the play, Beowulf frequently acknowledges God as his protector and assistor. Beowulf is born with supernatural strength, which he uses to defeat many creatures and further his heroic status. Grendel is outraged because he hears the people sing a song about creation. Grendel has the curse of Cain, leading to his hatred of God. When he comes to attack the people of Geats, Beowulf, the “mighty protector of men” (Beowulf: Part One line 81), responds and fights him, representing the Christians and God. Beowulf receives good omens, urging his adventure to kill Grendel (Beowulf lines 118-119). Grendel had finally discovered “what it meant to feud with Almighty God” (Beowulf: Part One 101).

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After his last battle, Beowulf exclaims, “To the everlasting Lord of All, to the King of Glory, I give thanks” (Beowulf: Part Two lines 411-413). Beowulf even goes as far as to say that God had sent him victory (Beowulf: Part One 238-241). This shows how the Geats’ culture believes in a more extraordinary Christian being, which plays into their fates. Their society has a religious foundation that affects all. If one does not believe, they are destined for misfortune, such as Grendel. Suppose one believed though not wholly, they are destined for failure. The Geats’ culture believes that one has to immerse himself fully into the religion and live their lives entirely for it.

In the movie, Peter Parker takes a field trip with his class to see a science laboratory at Columbia University. During the trip, a genetically altered spider bites him. As a result, he gains perfect vision, a more muscular physique, and spider-like qualities such as quick reflexes and the ability to produce webbing. Without science and technology, Spiderman would not exist. Modern society relies on science and technology just as Spiderman does. Without it, many people would be lost.

Global positioning systems (GPSs) allow Americans to travel quickly and rely on someone else telling them where to go; without them, many Americans would not know how to get from point A to point B. Figuratively speaking, Americans rely on technology and science innovations every day. Cell phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs) keep people on schedule all the time. Modern society is hectic; without the help of easy contact with others and schedules at hand twenty-four-seven, people would be a mess.

Beowulf’s heroic story begins after Grendel’s attacks on the Geats. Beowulf’s father, Ecgtheow, was involved in a feud with another tribe and killed a member of their tribe. To save Ecgtheow’s life, Hrothgar sent treasure to the tribe, and he was then safe from harm. Beowulf feels that it is his job to aid Hrothgar after he had helped Beowulf’s family. Beowulf arrives after Grendel has attacked Hrothgar’s tribe and comes to kill him. Beowulf’s excessive drive and passion for killing Grendel are due to that their tribe had saved his father previously.

He leaves his comitatus to assist others in their fight against Grendel. His past fuels Beowulf to be the supreme hero and unstoppable. When Hrothgar asks Beowulf to kill Grendel’s mother, he quickly agrees because he wants to seek revenge for the Geats. In Anglo-Saxon society, people would set out on adventures only after something made them. This reveals that the people don’t think to go out of their way to do anything. They didn’t think about the monster until it was their problem. They don’t work to prevent problems that might happen in the future.

In the movie, Peter Parker takes a field trip with his class to see a science laboratory at Columbia University. During the trip, a genetically altered spider bites him. As a result, he gains perfect vision, a more muscular physique, and spider-like qualities such as quick reflexes and the ability to produce webbing. Without science and technology, Spiderman would not exist. Likewise, modern society relies on science and technology just as Spiderman does.

Without it, many people would be lost. So speaking, global positioning systems (GPSs) allow Americans to travel quickly and rely on someone else telling them where to go; without them, many Americans would not know how to get from point A to point B. Figuratively speaking, Americans rely on technology and science innovations every day. Cell phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs) keep people on schedule all the time. Modern society is hectic; without the help of easy contact with others and schedules at hand twenty-four-seven, people would be a mess.

Peter enlists to use his newfound powers to enter a wrestling tournament to get money. Uncle Ben disagrees and advises Peter that, “With great power comes great responsibility” (Spiderman). Peter then rebels and goes to the tournament, wins, and is cheated out of the contest money. He is not happy and easily allows a thief to leave with money. Later, Peter discovers that Uncle Ben has been carjacked and killed. He follows the murderer and sees that it is the same man he had let escape.

Peter feels wrong about the argument and is upset and cries to Aunt May, “I can’t help thinking about the last thing I said to him. He tried to tell me something important, and I threw it in his face” (Spiderman). Aunt May replies to Peter, “You loved him. And he loved you. He never doubted the man you’d grow into; how you were meant for great things. You won’t disappoint him” (Spiderman). He also feels responsible for his uncle’s death, so he decides to use his powers for the good of others. Peter knows he is special by saying, “Who am I? You sure you want to know?

The story of my life is not for the faint of heart. If somebody said, it was a happy little tale… if somebody told you I was just your average ordinary guy, not a care in the world… somebody lied” (Spiderman). Until this happened, Peter had not planned on using his powers for anything more than fun. After realising that he can assist others and better New York City, he becomes a better person and help the people while fulfilling his heroic status. American society today is more worried about solving the problems we are faced with now than preventing future issues. Everyone is waiting for the moment to come in which they can shine rather than producing the moment themselves.

In these works, Beowulf and Spiderman depict your typical archetypal heroes. They are opposites in the societies they live in, but both show unique traits about the societies. They both rely on assistance from something greater than themselves. They also react to an event that leads to an adventure. Beowulf reveals how the people were religious and relied on God to influence and better their lives. He also demonstrates how the Geats were selfish and unconsciously waited for a problem to arise to take action rather than solve it before it began.

Spiderman shows how without technology and science the modern society is just average and boring. With the help of science and technology, people are made to seem more significant than they are. Another side of the American society is shown as lazy and unwilling to begin an adventure with no prior reason to commit. Archetypal heroes portray societal values of the societies in which they exist, leading to a better understanding of each culture.

Works Cited

  • Beowulf. Trans. Burton Raffel. Elements of Literature: Sixth Course: Essentials of British and World Literatures. Ed. Richard Simes et al. New York: Rhinehart, Holt, and Winston, 2000. 21-32.
  • Beowulf: Part One. Trans. Burton Raffel. Elements of Literature: Sixth Course: British and World Literatures. Ed. Kristine Marshall, Laura Mongello et al. New York: Rhinehart, Holt, and Winston, 2005. 21-28.
  • Beowulf: Part Two. Trans. Burton Raffel. Elements of Literature: Sixth Course: British and World Literatures. Ed. Kristine Marshall, Laura Mongello et al. New York: Rhinehart, Holt, and Winston, 2005. 33-38.
  • Spiderman. Dir. Sam Raimi. Perf. Tobey Maguire, Willem Dafoe, Kirsten Dunst. 2002.
  • Vogler, Christopher. The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers. 2nd edition. Studio City, CA: Michael Wiese Productions, 1998.

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