Pride Cometh Before Fall
Before fighting Grendel, Beowulf, an Anglo-Saxon cultured man that seeks “fame through success”, states, “He knows he can trample down you to his heart’s content, humiliate and murder without fear of reprisal. But he will find me different” (Beowulf, lines 599-601). As well as Beowulf, Satan, a fallen angel, pursues his hate against God by corrupting mankind’s purity. As a result, his action will stain God’s memories forever. Besides being obdurate and egotistical, Satan and Beowulf share a common goal of proving his singularity in his respective world. In combination with their pride, their similar desires make Satan and Beowulf epic heroes that fall in society. In John Milton’s Paradise Lost and the poet of Beowulf, the struggle that emerges from Satan and Beowulf’s boastful and stubborn character leads them on a downhill path controlled by their pride.
The driving forces that lead Beowulf and Satan to confront their struggles are their hubris and ambition. Because Beowulf’s ambition takes over his free will, he does anything that results in fame. As Beowulf prepares for his fight with Grendel, he pontificates, “I hereby renounce
sword and the shelter of the broad shield, hand-to-hand
is how it will be, a life-and-death
fight with the fiend" (Beowulf, lines 433-440). It is clearly not necessary to be stripped of all weaponries, but because of Beowulf’s self-confidence he cannot resist. When Beowulf defeats Grendel, the fame he acquires is like a drug, thus he becomes more ambitious in searching for his next “high”. At this moment, Beowulf unknowingly confronts his struggle of addiction to fame. This flaw causes him to lose his free will. Similarly, Satan, an angel that is banished from Heaven becomes tied up with his desire of undermining God’s deeds. Satan’s ambitious deeds are more about revenge rather than fame like Beowulf. Therefore, his obsession maims his judgment, which is clearly seen when Satan decides, “spite then with...
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