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Sympathy for the Devils - Term Paper Example

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Name Date Class Professor Sympathy in Literature: Akin to Monsters Not all life is fair, and literature is the first to address this. Rather it is socioeconomic status, war, or appearance to others there has always been structures and castes that individual fall into…
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Sympathy for the Devils
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Download file to see previous pages When reviewing literature it is important to look beyond what is written and look at what the author is trying to convey. This holds specifically true in two well known and well read pieces of literature. “Beowulf” and “The Odyssey” are two such penned works that have withstood the ages. These two works often evoke reactions by simply stating the title. Another commonality is that they speak of unfairness and the fear of the unknown with regards to individuals who are different. When faced with a situation that is unknown or fearful, many individuals revert to what they were taught as children. Monsters exist, good conquers evil, and the damsel is saved. When both “Beowulf” and “Odyssey” were written, there were many things that people did not understand. The Sun revolved around the earth, the earth was flat, the Americas did not exist, and individuals with deformities were considered monsters. Once science evolved, many of these mysteries were solved with a simple explanation. Until that point however, those with a physical appearance or who grew up differently than the majority were considered outcasts, unknown, and at times monsters. The majority of civilization might have looked down upon them, as not worth the trouble, there were some individuals who went out of their way to assist. These individuals cared for, assisted, and essentially treated these individuals as the humans they were, not as a monster. To have sympathy for something is not the same as having empathy. Someone who is empathic can realize that others have feelings, and to relate to those feelings but being emotionally and/or physically distanced from the individual. Sympathy is the act of actually sharing feelings with someone due to an event, or relationship. One event could due to a relationship mutually affect both parties. There are instances in both poems that have lessons of empathy as well as sympathy, but for this discussion sympathy is the intended phrase. Due to the allegorical quality of these poems, simple answers for questions are not easy, or possible without an in-depth reading of both as well as an understanding of what the author experienced during the era. “Beowulf” penned by an anonymous poet was thought to be originally written between the 8th and 11th century AD. There are many translations but a commonly used version was published in 1910 by Francis B. Gummere. In it there is a protagonist named King Hroogar and his initial antagonist the monster Grendel. The story unfolds with the King being all powerful building a great hall that is full of merriment and joy. However under this hall lives a monster by the name of Grendel that is awakened and physically pained by the noise created. Grendel attempts to stop the noise, and meets his death at the hands of the King. The original author may not have meant for there to be any sympathetic feelings towards Grendel, but by looking at it from a different angle one could see how readers may feel a tinge of sympathy. This also relates to “The Odyssey” written by Homer. This Epic poem is believed to have been written in the 8th Century BC. In this poem, the protagonist Odysseus having been lost on the seas due to a disagreement in another epic poem “The Illiad” meets one of many antagonists the Cyclops Polyphemus. While adrift on the sea, Odysseus is trapped on Polyphemus’ isle therefore becoming a prisoner. Eventually Odysseus is able to free ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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