There viewed by commoners, this “hero” unfortunately has

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There is a difference
between a tragic hero and an epic hero. A tragic hero comes from a noble birth,
but is not necessarily held to a higher standard by society (“Tragic Hero
Classical Defenition.” Trag.hero.htm). Since there is no structure
on how this hero should be viewed by commoners, this “hero” unfortunately has a
flaw which ultimately brings them to their tragic downfall, forcing them to
accept the consequences that follow. An epic hero, on the other hand, is known
to be charismatic, noble, brave, and admired for great achievement from their
grand events (“Epic Characteristic Notes.” Epic Hero). Both an epic
hero and a tragic hero are similar despite their major differences about
morality and overall goals. Macbeth, who is the main character in William
Shakespeare’s, Macbeth, is a tragic
hero. Whereas, Beowulf, the main character in Seamus Heaney’s, Beowulf, is an epic hero. The play of Macbeth is a considered to be a tragic
play, whereas the poem of Beowulf is an epic poem. Both genres of writing go together
with the personalities and literary terms of a tragic hero and an epic hero.

 Beowulf as well as Macbeth both share have the
hero as the protagonist, and although these two stories were written in
different eras, the context shares many similarities as well as differences. Macbeth
and Beowulf live their lives with over confidence that is reflected in their
actions.  This similarity leads both
characters to approach gaining higher power and personal challenges in a manner
of impulsivity that is unique to their respective character. Macbeth, Thane of
Cawdor, and Beowulf, Thane of Geats, both can thank their overconfidence for
the titles they have. Beowulf, from the beginning, is able hold his title as
king because he is considered to be proud, fearless and overall a good warrior.
Macbeth, cheats the moral code and uses outside help, the witches, and his cunningness
to trick everyone allowing himself to boast about what he has gotten away with
and earned. When comparing both characters, Beowulf has always been the
stronger of the two, given the fact his confidence had been developed at a
young age; whereas Macbeth later in life gained his confidence after he
assassinated King Malcolm and was able to get away with it. Both men believe
they are untouchable and have always been of a higher ranking than the people
around them. It is this overconfidence that became the reason for both of their

Macbeth’s flaws
outweigh his successes, which can be thanked due to his character – he has a
large sense of desire, arrogance, and anxiety which is all foreshadowed before
his self-inflicting death. His absurdly large amount of ambition for the worst
of things is acknowledged from his words in Act 1 Scene 7: “I have no spur to
prick the sides of my intent, but only vaulting ambition which o’erleaps itself
and falls on th’other..” (Macbeth Act 1, Scene7). In this scene, Macbeth’s
ambition is to kill King Duncan, and this same ambition is the result of all
mistakes Macbeth ends up making; the witches in the play even take notice of
this and taunt this weak flaw he holds.

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Macbeth’s insecurity
is another one of his many character flaws. Macbeth can easily prove his
manliness in battle; but Lady Macbeth knows that her husband lacks manliness in
areas of physical strength as well as mental strength, therefore she is able to
get inside of his head and manipulate Macbeth to kill King Duncan. In Act 1
Scene 7, after Macbeth has decided it would be best not to kill King Duncan,
Lady Macbeth starts to doubt if Macbeth has any manhood by shouting, “When you
durst do it, they you were a man.” (Macbeth Act 1, Scene 7). Lady Macbeth realizes
that this bothers her husband and she continues taunting him and eventually
driving Macbeth to consider what would happen if their plan to kill King Duncan
fails. Lady Macbeth grows in her confidence with manipulation against her
husband and states that she will make the plan and take care of the murder. continues
to bring him down by stating that she will make the plan and take care of the

“What cannot you and I
perform upon

The unguarded Duncan?
What not put upon

His spongy officers,
who shall bear the guilt

Of our great quell?”

(Macbeth Scene 7, Page

Beowulf on the other
hand, thrives from his characteristics of bravery, loyalty, honor, and
strength. He is a man who is willing to risk his life for his people as well as
the greater good, which is a trait that Macbeth is not able to relate to. The
characteristics that Beowulf shows are exemplified further in Beowulf’s great
deeds. When Beowulf agrees to fight Grendel, a monster who has already been
beaten up by countless numbers of men, Beowulf’s success in killing Grendel
displays how his strength and bravery make him a hero and how he puts the
safety of his people before his own (Beowulf, Lines 1251-1491). Beowulf also
showed heroism and courage when he decided to go to Hrothgar’s kingdom despite
hearing horrific stories about the damage that Grendel was causing. He not only
puts himself in danger but he also chose to put himself in an unfamiliar
environment to bravely face a horrendous monster. His epic heroism does not end
there though, he ultimately sacrifices his entire life as he fights a dragon
with the final intention of protecting his own kingdom. Something that Macbeth
would not be able handle due to his selfishness.

Therefore, Macbeth and
Beowulf both have a striking amount of overconfidence that both leads them to
put themselves in difficult situations that lead them to make impulsive
decisions. Although it can be interpreted that Beowulf is more of a conqueror
than Macbeth, both characters live up to their literary definition of hero. It is
clear to understand that the mistakes that these two characters have made led
them to their successes as well as their major flaws. Without these personality
flaws, both Beowulf and Macbeth would not have been able to die surrounded in
what makes them unique to their books. 

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