Boewulf Vs. Tolkien
Tolkien and Beowulf
In J.R.R. Tolkien and the True Hero by George Clark, Clark makes the argument that while Lord of the Rings was inspired by Beowulf, Tolkien wanted to make a true hero that was motivated by his own religious and moral ideal while still keeping tradition of old heros. Tolkien saw himself as following the same strategy as the poet of Beowulf and other authors of the Old Icelandic sagas. Clark discusses how in Tolkien’s fantasy, he rewrites of heroic literature. For example, in “Monsters” and “Homecoming” separate themselves from Beowulf and Maldon form the heroic traditions that we see so often in literature. The heros in these texts do not mention duty of revenge not do they take note of the material gain that comes from being a traditional hero. However, in Tolkien’s pieces there is the heroic desire for fame. Clark gives historical background knowledge of the values in the Anglo Saxon grammar and culture. He reminds the reader the emphasis that was put on the ideas of fate and luck in the heroic worldview.
Clark analyzes Hobbit and how Tolkien attempts to rewrite the hero. In Hobbit the hero is Bilbo who has some trademarks that a hero of the old would have. For example, when Gandalf comes to Bilbo in search of a hero, “Bilbo opens the door and accepts the challenge in the pursuit of what Beowulf and his poet would call lof and dom, praise and good report…”(Clark 42). All of the classic motives for a heroic action are present in this story: wealth, fame, revenge, an oath or vow, loyalty, and leadership. In Hobbit, Clark argues that Tolkien creates a new hero, a hero who is summoned to his dangerous mission by a supernatural person who will brook no denial. He shows how in contrast to, “Beowulf, Grendel’s raids, abruptly orders a ship fitted out and sets off to win lof and dom with his physical strength. Beowulf however, attributes his desire to visit the Danes to the Danish kings need of men,” (43). In this section of his article, Clark argues that Tolkien almost made a new hero and new heroism but the old model and standard hero were visible in the new heroism and in Biblo.