Beowulf and Judith Comparison

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Updated: Apr 30, 2024
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According to the book, The Norton Anthology, English Literature, “Beowulf is the oldest of the great long poems written in English more than twelve hundred years ago. It is now widely believed that Beowulf is the work of a single poet who was a Christian and that his poem reflects well-established Christian tradition.” The Norton Anthology, English Literature book states, “One of the biblical books from which Elfric drew material was the Book of Judith. We do not know the date for the rendering of the Book of Judith into Anglo-Saxton poetry, but it was probably composed sometime in the tenth century.

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” In the stories, Beowulf and Judith both characters have similarities and differences that show their perspectives throughout their life. In the story of Beowulf, Beowulf can be described as a mortal human who was born and raised in Geatland. Beowulf has many characteristics that show his epic leadership, courage, and responsibilities to his people. He believed that all of his people are equal and no person was better than the other. In the story of Judith, Judith was a great leader who tried to protect and serve her people. Judith was the Jewish heroine who saved the Jews by killing Holofernes who was the general of the army besieging them. Both characters show great adversity and Christianity throughout their poems.

Beowulf and Judith are similar in many ways when it comes to leading their people. Beowulf was never scared to back down from a fight, but he had swords to protect him. Beowulf killed Grendel with his bare hands. Beowulf showed the trophy where Grendel had been defeated and it was Grendel’s arm. Beowulf upholds values, traits, and responsibility just like a hero should. Judith had God on her side when it came to fighting the bad guys. Judith does not need swords or magic to help her fight because she has the powerful God up about to help her win her fights. Judith outsmarts her enemies, so she can defeat them and get what she wants in the end. Judith talks to God about everything before she does it, so she will know how to handle the fight. Personally, Judith is more of the brave one because she has nothing, but the word of God and that is hard to stick with for most people. The poems are about two different heroes and how they make it through all the hard times in their life and the good times. When we have God on our side we are going to go through hard times, but God is there to guide us and help us get out of those situations. Judith is a woman and Beowulf is a man. Both of these strong leaders hold the same values and want what is best for their people. Judith and Beowulf have to stand up for what they believe in and fight when it comes to protecting their people. Beowulf and Judith both have hard jobs because they have so many people depending on them that they have to be on the lookout all day every day. Beowulf and Judith are well respected because their people knows they have their back no matter what. Due to the overwhelming responsibilities hat Beowulf and Judith have, each one manages their responsibilities in their own way.

In the poem Beowulf, the text is influenced of colored concepts from the original text of Beowulf. The Norton Anthology of English Literature says, “Throughout the story of Beowulf, one finds many elements of Christian philosophy: that man survives only through the protection of God, that all earthly gifts flow from God, and that the proper bearing of man is to be humble and unselfish. However, there is also a strong sense of heroic pride within Beowulf which is at times in direct conflict with these Christian values. Marshall states, “Beowulf has a Christian attitude toward wealth. He notes Beowulf’s interest in dispensing gifts to his retainers, for which he would need treasure.” Beowulf repeatedly acknowledges God as his protector. He knows that God is looking out for his survival. Edward Irving writes that “God is truly felt as a living presence only at those moments when we feel the surges of heroic power in Beowulf. In this special sense the hero is indeed God’s agent, for he is the only way we can be aware of God and of how he acts in the world of men we know.” Medieval lit states, Beowulf is protected less by divinity than by physical forces, such as his armor. In the story, Beowulf never speaks directly to God.”

The poem Judith is powerfully influenced by The Book of Judith in the Bible. Judith believes strongly in God and the faith she puts into God to be a great leader. Drumheller says, “Judith has complete faith in God, sounding like the Lord speaking to Job from the whirlwind, Judith challenges the people’s notion of testing God. You cannot even understand the inner-workings of human thought and emotions, Judith proclaims. How could you dream of understanding the thought of God? Judith reminds the rulers and people of Bethulia the importance of human agency in God’s plan: “Therefore, while we wait for [God’s] deliverance, let us call upon him to help us, and he will hear our voice, if it pleases him (8:17).” Mediveal lit states, “ Judith’s God protects his heroine.”

The brave Beowulf and the prudent Judith cannot fight their battles without define help Beowulf and Judith both represent enormous amounts of bravery throughout their poems. In Beowulf’s first fight, before facing Grendel, Beowulf “took off the helmet and handed his attendant / the patterned sword” (672-673), deciding that using a weapon or protection of any kind would make the battle too easy. Shortly after doing this, he boasts, “When it comes to fighting, I count myself / as dangerous any day as Grendel” stated Cory. Beowulf displays a huge amount of bravery by killing Grendel and while trying to kill Grendel, Beowulf realizes that his weapons were not working. As a result of the weapons not working, Beowulf killed Grendel with his bare hands. In the second battle, Beowulf is trying to destroy Grendel’s mother. Beowulf travels to the lake shores to Grendel’s mothers cave to destroy the demon hag by his self. Beowulf made the choice to fight alone which showed his bravery. In the third battle, Beowulf is trying to defeat a dragon. Beowulf is determined to defeat the dragon alone, which shows his courage. Even though in the end, Beowulf did not end up fighting the dragon alone. Judith represents bravery by using only her faith in God when she goes into battle. Craven says, “Judith and her handmade snuck out of the camp, taking Holofernes’ head back to Bethulia. The Jews were emboldened by their bravery.” The poetic Judith has heroic strength. Clearly the strength of Judith in the poem is greater than the strength of the biblical Judith and this strength is a product of the heroic tradition. Judith used her heroic strength to lug the dead weight of the drunken Holofernes around inside the tent. In both poems, Beowulf and Judith show great signs of bravery to the reader and their people.

Disparities also come out between the characters Beowulf and Judith. Beowulf is a male warrior, while Judith is a female warrior. Beowulf accepts rewards for all his victories. These rewards include celebrations, praise, status , and expensive gifts. Judith hardly accepts any type of reward. Beowulf makes it all about him and wants everyone to know how he can defeat monsters with his bare hands. Beowulf is protected by divinity than by armor. Judith is protected by God and his watching over her. Judith has a God that is there for her all the time and never leaves her and answers all of her prayers. Beowulf’s God is more a figure of speech and not always there for him when he calls out to him. When Judith receives rewards she looks at it as a gift from God. When Beowulf receives rewards he wants it and wants everyone to know he has it. Medieval lit states, “Upon Judith’s triumphant return to Bethulia, the heroine does not dwell on her victory but conveys only as much of it as is necessary to rally her people, remarking that it is they who will receive the glory. She shows herself consistently content to win glory for others when it is conclude that “she did not doubt in the reward which she had long yearned for. For that be glory to the beloved lord for ever and ever.” Beowulf’s ego comes between him and his God; Judith’s humility bonds her to hers. Medieveal lit says, “Beowulf’s motive in confronting Grendel only partially resembles Judith’s motive in confronting Holofernes, the nature of Beowulf’s victory only partially resembles that of Judith’s. Unlike the “holy maiden” Judith, whose aspiration and achievement both stem from God, Beowulf emphasizes his own importance in the proceedings by expressing his “complete trust in his strengthen of limb and the Lord’s favor”, and observing that the Divine Lord will “in His wisdom grant the glory of victory to whichever side he sees fit.”

Beowulf is a good leader because he represents everything a leader should have. Beowulf made alliances with the Danes. He brought riches to his people, he defended his people, he was an effective king, he was a brilliant warrior. His biggest leadership moment was when he fought the dragon at the end. Beowulf knew he was too old to fight the dragon, but he stood up and did it because he never backs down from a fight. He did all he could during the fight, but he ended up short. Beowulf fought because he knew his time was almost up, so he wanted to give it all he had. Everyone has their flaws, so Beowulf is not perfect by any means. Beowulf loves his people and wants to do everything to keep them safe and out of harms way. Beowulf is not scared to fight, but sometimes he may not know when to stop. Beowulf’s flaw is he wants everyone to know what he does and he wants to show all his rewards he gets. We could say that Beowulf’s flaw would be that he tried to keep fighting when he knew he was to old, but everyone has their own opinion. My personally opinion is Beowulf knew he was old and it was getting time for the Geats to get a new leader, but he died trying his best for his people even if he only had one person left standing by his side.

Judith is a good leader because she commands, plans, and leads her people in the right direction. Planning, leading, and commanding is the number one thing to be a good leader and to step up for your people. People always say that a women will not make a great leader, but that is not true and Judith shows that in many different ways. Judith breaks down things and finds way to fix situations with a plan and has it in order. Judith knows how power works with her and men and she will not let men step over her just because they think they are better than her. Judith acts good out of her heart and out of the people she loves. Judith trust in God and with God anything is possible. When we have God on our side he will protect us and bring us through hard times as long as we are with him through it all. People want to follow God when everything is good, but when the bad hits they want to turn around and run.

Judith doubted gifts in this world, where she found protection from the glorious Lord. Judith has the most needed favor from the highest Judge, so that the Lord defended her against the greatest terror. God granted Judith her request because she stayed true to her faith. Holofernes eagerly issued invitations to a feast and provided all types of magnificent wonders. Judith was a good person and always wanted to do the right thing, so her people would be protected and she could always keep her faith in God. Judith did everything she could to make sure her faith in God never ran out. Judith is someone that everyone should want as their leader because she cares and tries her best to do the right thing. It is hard to always stay close to God especially when the hard times hit, but it is important to know if we have God on our side we can accomplish and get through anything.

Beowulf who was a hero of the Geats, later in life he becomes the king of the Geats. Beowulf represents values, motivations, characteristics, and loyalty. It is possible that Beowulf may be the lone survivor. Hrothgar and Beowulf are portrayed as morally upright and enlightened. The young Beowulf’s attempt to comfort the bereaved king by invoking the code of vengeance may be one of several instances of the poet’s ironic treatment of the tragic futility of never ending blood feuds. Instead, the poem turns on Beowulf’s three great fights against preternatural evil, which inhabits the dangerous and demonic space surrounding human society. He undertakes the fight against Grendel to save the Danes from the monster and to exact vengeance for the men Grendel has slain.

The most heroic fight Beowulf fought was the one against the dragon. Beowulf overcame his destiny and his old age, so he could protect his people and go down fighting. This fight was remarkable because nobody of this age would of fought this fight, but Beowulf did anyways because he is strong and he loves his people and would do anything for them. Beowulf told his thanes that this was his last battle. Beowulf brought his sword and special shield and as he was walking in to fight the dragon he hollers, so the dragon will wake up. The dragon wakes up and blows fire on Beowulf, the shield catches the flames, but Beowulf tries to go after the dragon and his sword does not do the job. Beowulf has no protecting and is left unarmed. The eleven thanes that came with Beowulf did not stand up and protect their leader because they were scared. Out of the eleven thanes that came with him, only one remained and stuck with Beowulf through it all. When the ten thanes left Beowulf it shows that you cannot count on people because when the going gets tough not everyone will be there to protect because they are scared. Beowulf collapses and Wiglaf, the only thane that stayed, poured water on the wound, but it was to late and nothing they could do about it. Before Beowulf dies he tells Wiglaf to bring him the treasure, so he can see what he is dying for.

The most heroic fight Judith had was with Holofernes. Judith saved her people by beheading Holofernes. The story of Judith and Holofernes comes from the Bible. Judith’ name means Lady Jew, she was a beautiful woman. She seduces Holofernes with her beauty and waits until he is drunk and cuts his head off after she talked to God about it first.

In conclusion, Beowulf and Judith have several similarities and differences that attributed to their great success as leaders. In the poem Beowulf, there are a few themes that can be taken out of reading the poem. Loyalty, generosity, reputation are three themes that stand out throughout the whole poem. Beowulf can be known as a selfless leader. Throughout the poem Beowulf, he was destined to seek fame and glory for his achievements. Beowulf was very loyal to all the Angelo-Saxton society by being a true hero to his people. He showed a great deal of generosity to all his people by going into battles alone. In the poem Judith, she stayed true to her belief in God. Judith did not want praise and rewards, she wanted her people to give their thanks to God. Judith, in her own way, can be known as a selfless person for always putting her people before herself. In the poem Judith, Christianity plays a huge role in the way the people see things throughout the poem. Both Beowulf and Judith show great fearfulness and leadership throughout both poems. Beowulf and Judith are two great poems that can be inspiration to show great courage, leadership, and generosity.

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Beowulf and Judith Comparison. (2021, Apr 26). Retrieved from