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Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Beowulf It is unexpected that Beowulf, a fictional character, and Dr.

Martin Luther King Jr., a real-life character, each with legacies that will never be forgotten, be compared to one another, especially how each want to be remembered after death. Though both Beowulf and King seem to believe in a God, when their last reflections, the way they both want to be remembered, and their burial practices are examined, it seems that both mens desires do not equally reflect Christian values such as humility and sacrifice. Initially, the final wishes of both Beowulf and King do no equally reflect Christian values because Beowulfs motives are selfish and self-centered, whereas Kings are more humanitarian. Beowulf has been the king of Geatland for fifty years, and even in old age, he still boasts that he has never known fear, [and] as a youth [he] fought in endless battles (624-625), showing that Beowulf is a braggart and loves getting praises. He always wants the attention and thinks that there is no one better than him. Even against the dragon, Beowulf believed that no man but [him] could hope to defeat [the dragon] (645-646). According to Dustin Webb of University of Michigan, Beowulfs focus on self-gratification through the acquisition of material wealth only narrows with age. Even at old age, rather than taking care of his people as a king, and Beowulf cares more about the treasure that the dragon guards. Just before his death, Beowulfs last wish was to die along with the dragons treasure, and instead of thanking God for his peoples safety he thanks him for this, this gold, these jewels (816). Beowulf only cares about acquiring more treasure to increase his own reputation. King on the other hand wants to be remembered with humility. He knows he has accomplished many things, yet chooses not to brag about it, showing humility, one of the Christian values. He does not seek for treasures and fame, even declaring that he wont have any money to leave behind and there will be no fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind, unlike Beowulf who decides to leave behind treasures to Wiglaf, King

prefers to be remembered by the fact that he tried to give his life serving others feed the hungry clothe those who were naked love and serve humanity (Drum Major Instinct). Unlike Beowulf, he wants people to remember him for the good deeds he does, and not for the accomplishments that he has done, and the fame and money that comes along with it. Beowulf is very materialistic, and prefers to be remembered through the use of objects, unlike King who prefers to be remembered through the idea of victory for everyone, showing how the two men do not equally show Christian values. Beowulf wishes Wiglaf to build [him] a tomb at the waters edge, high so sailors can see this tower, and remember [his] name (827-828). Beowulf wants a physical representation of him, so that even after his death, his people will not forget him. Beowulf shows no sign of humility and his egotistic nature still lingers even though he is about to die. King on the other hand, does not mention wanting a statue after his death, and instead would rather be remembered for being a drum major for justice drum major for peace drum major for righteousness (Drum Major Instinct). King wants to be remembered for his service of being able to fight for what he believes in and through his victory he was able to help others, unlike Beowulf who wants to be remembered for the victories and successes he accomplished for himself. Even in burial, Beowulf and King do not equally reflect Christian values. Beowulf mentions that funeral flames [will burn him] (825), which is cremation. However during Beowulfs time, cremation was considered to be Pagan. Unlike Beowulf, King wishes to have a burial that is Christian. He mentions how he would like for the eulogy short and for the speaker not to talk too long (Drum Major Instinct). He wishes that the speaker not to brag about his accomplishments, showing humility and concern for others. Even in death, King shows more Christian values compared to Beowulf.

Source:
Webb, Dustin. "Beowulf and His Quest for Glory: An Analysis." Yahoo Contributor Network. Yahoo!/University of Michigan, 22 Oct. 2008. Web. 03 Oct. 2013.