Common Characteristics Galore
All authors, who actually produce well written stories and novels, tend to have one thing in common: the way that they describe and characterize each character. The diction and tone that they incorporate into the work assists in producing characters with extreme qualities, both good and bad. Two such characters are known as Beowulf and Gilgamesh. These two beings possess similar qualities but are expressed by the author in extremely different tones and word diction. Gilgamesh has a slightly negative tone while Beowulf contains a vibrant tone. The two characters possess two characteristics that are quite similar: strength and confidence.
While strength usually concerns muscular shape and build, in the novel Gilgamesh, it is not used in that particular way. This strength concerns the power in a kingdom. Gilgamesh is king of Uruk, a section of ancient Babylonia. He “was a tyrant to his people” and “demanded the privilege of sleeping with their brides”. At times he could be even crueler that that by “pushing his people half to death with work”. This type of strength derives from his reign. The author used words such as ‘demanding’ and ‘pushing’ to bring on a negative, basically condescending tone. Although Gilgamesh portrayed strength in a powerful way, Beowulf used it in the literal sense of the word. Beowulf is a very strong and noble character. He is a member of the Geat tribe and is described by the poet as “greater and stronger than anyone anywhere in the world”. A Danish soldier, a character in the story, has “never seenOut of all the men on earth, one greater than has come with you”. Beowulf’s appearance–his size, his armor-obviously commands immediate respect and attention. The poet utilizes ‘greater’ and ‘stronger’ to produce a positive, vibrant tone, which in turn fills the reader with a high regard for Beowulf. Although Beowulf and Gilgamesh each obtain the quality of being strong, the author of each novel portrayed it in different ways.
Characters Gilgamesh and Beowulf are two people who believe in themselves and would like others to believe in them as well. Gilgamesh has confidence in himself and what he does. When a hunter spots Enkidu opening a trap, he gets angry and decides that Gilgamesh will do something about it. “Gilgamesh would understand, for he was king.” Gilgamesh knew that he could punish Enkidu any way that he desired. But after awhile Gilgamesh “forgot what he had listened to” and simply sent a prostitute to visit the man who had forced open the trap. There is a discreet confidence found in the statement ‘would understand, for he was king’. Just because he was king does not necessarily mean that he would be able to comprehend the situation. Another sign of self-confidence is when Gilgamesh says, “But I have never failed before” Everybody fails at something at least once in his or her life, but not Gilgamesh. At least that is what he thinks. The tone in this section is sarcastic because he had ‘forgot what he had listened to’ yet it still possesses its negative side. Beowulf has a very high self-confidence. In fact, his confidence in himself is so great at one time that he has a “feeling of sympathy” for the monster he is attacking. He claims that he wants the battle to be “as fair as possible”. There is nothing offensive about Beowulf’s boastfulness; he is merely stating what he believes to be true, almost as if he were talking about another person. The author tends to use a lighthearted tone when it comes to Beowulf and his escape from the monsters. Even though there is a slightly boastful side to Beowulf, there is by no means a change in tone. It is still vibrant and contains words of that tone.
Authors of all novels use tone and diction to describe characters and their actions. Gilgamesh and Beowulf were both extremely strong and confident, yet they were each different because of the way that their individual author described them. Tones and diction tend to vary from novel to novel even when there are many similarities involved. Gilgamesh and Beowulf are two such epics where this occurs.