"Famous" as Compared to "Beowulf"

Essay by vdcsmallsHigh School, 12th gradeA+, March 2007

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The poem “Famous” puts the way that we view heroes into perspective. A hero can only be a hero to the person who sees him that way. The same is true in Beowulf. Beowulf is only famous to those who know of his strength and pride. To those who are ignorant of his acts of heroism, he is seen as a fool. Unferth tells Beowulf that he is a “fool who fought a swimming match with Brecca…” (22,506). Beowulf becomes a hero to Unferth, though, when Unferth sees that Beowulf is capable of killing Grendel. Unferth’s mind changes because Beowulf becomes famous to him like “the river is famous to the fish” (1). Unferth is the real fool for not trusting Beowulf’s vigor and power.

The last point made in the poem “Famous” is the most profound comparison to the story of Beowulf. The poem says, “I want to be famous in the way that the pulley is famous,/or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,/but because it never forgot what it could do.”(19-21).

Beowulf tells his men and others in the hall that he doesn’t want to have fame and be remembered as the huge hero that he has become. He would rather be remembered for doing the things that needed to be done rather than for the things that would make him famous. His sense of duty was the cause of his fame when many others sought fame just to reap the benefits. He never loses his sense of himself and that is why people want to tell his story, that’s why they all want to remember and look up to him. Even though Beowulf did do spectacular things, he only did them because it was necessary for the well being of...