Beowulf and the Tempest-Revenge
Revenge Many comparisons can be seen between Shakespeare’s novel The Tempest and the epic Beowulf. One of the strongest similarities is the idea of revenge. Shakespeare’s novel occurs basically in order for Prospero to have revenge on his enemies from usurping his dukedom. Beowulf’s original monster, Grendel, starts acting out less due to revenge and more out of pure frustration. His death though, causes his mother to act on revenge, killing one of Hrothgar’s trusted advisor, Aeschere, causing Beowulf to kill her for revenge. The dragon got mad about a stolen article and burned down Beowulf’s home in revenge, and so Beowulf went after him.
Although they have different motives, both plots are caused greatly because of revenge. In The Tempest, Prospero’s brother, Antonio, with the help of his friends Sebastian and Alonso, took over Prospero’s dukedom. He was then sent to a deserted island with just his daughter Miranda for twelve years. Throughout his time on the island, Prospero continued to delve into his magic books. Along with he gaining new knowledge, he attained a servant Caliban, and an indebted spirit, Ariel. For twelve long years on the empty land Prospero plotted his revenge, something that was made possible due to his newfound knowledge of magic.
Finally the day came when his master plan was able to finally become reality. He made a huge storm come, tearing apart the boat that held Antonio, Sebastian, Alonso, his son Ferdinand, and a few others. Ferdinand got separated from the rest and wound up, not coincidently, finding Miranda and falling in love with her. Alonso became distraught thinking his beloved son was dead. Antonio and Sebastian began to plot the death of Alonso. Finally as the novel came to an end, Prospero sent Ariel as a harpy to frighten his brother and the two other men and tell them all they have done wrong. They then were brought to Prospero.
Alonso became very apologetic, while Antonio and Sebastian remained uncaring of what they had done. Their fate rested in Prospero’s hands. This was the plan Prospero had perfected all those years, the perfect revenge plot. At that moment he had all his enemies gathered around him. He could’ve killed them or banished them to a foreign land, but he did not. He said, “The rarer action is in virtue than in vengeance. They being penitent, the sole drift of my purpose doth extend not a frown further. Go release them, Ariel. My charms I’ll break, their senses I’ll restore, and they shall be themselves. (The Tempest, Act 5, Scene 1, 28-33) He had gotten his revenge, they were sorry, and he was content. Beowulf, though, did not start out like this. The monster Grendel was a descendant of Cain. He was forced to roam the Earth an outcast due to his ancestor killing his brother Abel for no apparent reason. He heard celebration going on in Heorot and got mad. He hated happiness and noise and celebration because he hated the hand he was dealt in life. So as revenge for his own hated life, he decided to wreck the party and make others miserable like himself.
He continued to do so for a while, scaring all the Danes, even the most powerful. Finally a brave warrior, Beowulf, came from Geatland. He went to fight with Grendel using no protective gear at all. He managed to kill the ravaging beast. The Danes thought this was finally the end of the disaster that they had been hoping for. But it was not. Grendel’s mother was furious with Beowulf for killing her son. She was willing to die in order to avenge her son’s murder. She started to attack everyone. On her rampage in Heorot, she killed Aeschere, King Hrothgar’s most trusted advisor.
The entire kingdom was furious, demanding the death of this horrible monster. Beowulf states to the king “Sorrow not, wise warrior. It is better for a man to avenge his friend than much mourn. Each of us must await his end of the world’s life. Let him who may get glory before death: that is best for the warrior after he has gone from life” (Beowulf 45). He is saying rather than mourning over Aeschere’s death, he should just avenge it. So the brave Beowulf once again came to the rescue. She lived under water so that was where he fought her and the place where she met her bitter end. Beowulf’s final battle was also due to revenge.
The dragon had a valuable cup that had gone missing from the treasures. He was furious and ransacked the entire country, including burning down Beowulf’s house. Therefore Beowulf went after the dragon to avenge his lost home. This was his final battle, the fight where he lost his life. Although revenge is a major theme in both The Tempest and Beowulf, their reasons for revenge are very different. Prospero wants revenge in order to get his life back. He was thrown out of his dukedom and onto a deserted island. He wanted his enemies to feel remorse and to gain back his dukedom and that was all.
In Beowulf it was very different. Everyone wanted revenge because they were upset and wanted to hurt the nemesis. Grendel was upset with his lineage so he wanted to stop all happiness so he attacked Heorot. Grendel’s mother wanted to avenge her son’s murder so she too destroyed Heorot, including killing Aeschere. Beowulf and all the Danes wanted to avenge Aeschere’s murder so he killed Grendel’s mother. The dragon wanted his treasure back so he raided the country, and Beowulf got angry and attacked the dragon. Prospero just wanted remorse and he was happy. The characters in Beowulf wanted revenge and payback.