When reading Idylls of the King I found that focusing on similarities between Beowulf and King Arthur was actually quite difficult. There are specific things about the two men that are similar, for instance the fame and the virtuousness and strength of their characters that is described but to me the key similarities lay in the intentions behind their actions.
When first reading Beowulf at the beginning of the year, I viewed his character in the way he was described; virtuous, kind hearted, and strong. However after reading Idylls of the King I no longer believe that his intentions were purely helpful. I believe there was a selfish element to his actions because it seems somewhat arrogant to travel to a foreign country to help a stranger you have never met and assume that they willow welcome your arrival with open arms. There are also no passages where Beowulf speaks as kindly to his followers as King Arthur speaks to his nights.
When reading Idylls of the King I truly believed that King Arthur is as virtuous as described. It seems that he wants to marry Guinevere because he truly loves her and that he wants to unite the kingdoms not to gain more power but to bring peace to the lands. Any time the Round Table is spoken of, it is said that all the knights have been taught good morals by King Arthur and that everyone is viewed as an equal. Even at the beginning of the poem, after Arthur has been crowned King he still “rode a simple knight among his knights” (51). Even after most of his friends have deserted him to fight for Modred, Arthur still claims that he loves his friends. He has kind words for Sir Bedivere even though Sir Bedivere does not follow his wishes. I feel that King Arthur should be viewed as unlike Beowulf rather than similar to him.
“Beowulf”. The Norton Anthology of English Literature Vol A. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. New York: W.W. Norton Company & Inc, 2012. 36-108. Print
Tennyson, Alfred. “Idylls of the King”. The Norton Anthology of English Literature Vol E. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. New York: W.W. Norton Company & Inc, 2012. 1237-1259. Print