Beowulf And Parzival

The act of being honorable has been written about and discussed for ages,
beginning from The Laxdaela Saga to the more recent works by Tolkein, The Lord
of the Rings. Throughout literary history authors have created and restored
figures from all times that seem to represent what is honorable and chivalrous.

The two literary legends compared in this paper are Beowulf and Parzival. These
two figures in their own way find within them what is virtuous. At first
impression it seems as though Beowulf is the warrior who contains the honor
within himself, but as the two characters are compared in depth, it becomes
obvious that Parzival's journey through manhood brings him to a much more noble
and honorable place. Beowulf and Parzival's journey's began on the same path,
each fatherless, they strove to search out what they saw as adventure. They
jumped to whet their desires for the unknown and the chance to be a hero. A
young Beowulf, we learn, challenges a peer to a match of strength. Unferth tells
this tale of "when for pride the pair of [them] proved the seas and for a
trite boast entrusted [their] lives to the deep waters, undissuadable by effort
of friend or foe whatsoever from that swimming on the sea,"(Beowulf,65).

Beowulf's stubborn pride lead him even at a young age to challenge what may have
seemed beyond his reach for glory. Later on, Beowulf hearing the horrific tales
of the monster Grendel that had been reeking havoc at Heorot, abruptly left his
homeland to prove his gallantry. "The wiser sought to dissuade him from
voyaging hardly or not at all," but the strong-headed Beowulf refused to
listen to reason. Unlike Beowulf, Parzival was actually hidden from all
opportunities of adventure by his mother. She fled to a place where she believed
she could escape all traces of knighthood, which she believed to be evil. She
was not successful though, and as soon as Parzival laid his eyes on the god-like
knight, he made up his mind to leave his mother and all that he knew to seek
adventure. The absence of her son drove her to an early grave. This action is
one that Parzival was later deemed "unhonorable" for and one he deeply
regretted. These boys both started out young and refused to listen to the reason
of their elders. Against the wishes of the people who were wiser and more
experienced, they let their pride and ambition overtake them. This did not show
to be a promising beginning for either of them. Their roads do take a different
turns though. Beowulf, arriving at Heorot, is immediately described as a person
who, "has the head of a hero," but his arrogance accompanies this
hero-like status(Beowulf, 59). He proceeds to boast to all of the Hall of Heorot,
that he is an accomplished fighter who has come to save them from this terrible
monster. He proclaims, "With bare hands shall I grapple the fiend, fight to
the death here"(Beowulf, 65). Though Beowulf is extremely arrogant, there
is some truth to what he boasts. He does perform in the manner in which he
promised, be with this success comes extreme arrogance that should not be found
in a true hero. Beowulf, unlike Parzival has already experienced combat. He
brags that "fame-winning deeds have come early to [his]hands .. Men knew
well the weight of [his]hands. Had they not seen [him] come from fights where
[he] had bound five Giants - their blood was upon [him] - cleaned out a nest of
them.,"(Beowulf, 64). Beowulf was raised fighting and had never been
defeated, so he never really knew what it was like to not be successful.

Parzival did not expierence success until he learned what honor really was. It
was said of him that, "No kurvenal had reared him, he knew nothing of fine
manners," (Parzival, 83) He seemed doomed to fail in the world of the
knighthood, because of his lack of spiritual and physical training. He is
described as "naпve", "simple", and as a "raw
young man" not at all prepared for he sought out in his vast world. His
first encounter was with the Red Knight, Ither, who we later learn is a relative
of Parzivals'. Parzival battles with Ither and kills him. After the battle is
finished, Parzival stripped the corpse of its armor for himself. "Later on
reaching years of discretion, Parzival wished he had not done it." (Parzival,

91) At this time in his life though, because of his ignorant nature and
preconcieved notions of knighthood, he does not see how