beowulf essay

beowulf essay

?Jordan Allred 9/3/13 Period 4 A Chain of Revenge When in a fight, everyone always wants to throw the last punch or have the last say in the matter. They will not rest until something is done to satisfy them. In the epic poem Beowulf, translated by Charles W Kennedy, Beowulf illustrates how he and other characters in the story contradict the Christian ideal of forgiveness by using revenge. In this epic poem, the characters seem to always use revenge in their life. Constantly, either Beowulf or the gruesome monsters are exacting revenge on one another.

All of this can be shown in the story of Beowulf. The first act of revenge in the poem is when Beowulf goes to king Hrothgar’s kingdom and slays Grendel. When Beowulf goes to Hrothgar’s kingdom, Beowulf speaks to Hrothgar, saying, “Single-handed I’ll settle the strife! ” (line 329) Beowulf is very determined to avenge king Hrothgar’s kingdom because they have been under attack from Grendel for the past 12 years. King Hrothgar is rejoices when Beowulf says that he will kill Grendel when He says, Speak of great deeds as your heart may spur you! (Line 373) King Hrothgar is greatly pleased because he too has been seeking revenge on Grendel for his devious actions. King Hrothgar has no choice but to submit to the monster because he could not do anything about it. But alas, he finally has the opportunity to get revenge on the beast so he accepts Beowulf’s help. After the battle with Grendel, Beowulf gives a long heroic speech on how he was able to kill Grendel by saying, “By the favor of God we won the fight. ”(Line 699) When saying this speech, Beowulf’s Allred 2 shows proudness to the people of god and that without god, he could not have revenge on Grendel.

Overall, Beowulf uses revenge to take care of troubles that happen to him. The next act of revenge is when Grendel’s mother comes into the picture. The troll wife is angry when Beowulf kills her son, Grendel. She wants revenge on the Danes for doing such a horrible thing to her son. The troll wife sneaks into the mead-hall and “clutched him fast and made off to the fens. ” (Line 827) Here, the troll wife takes a man named AEshere who is one of the king’s favored knights. So to get revenge on the Danes, the troll wife kills the best of the best. However, this is not all that she takes.

Grendel’s mom also takes back Grendel’s arm that is hung up on a wall in the mead-hall. When the poem states, “The bloodstained claw. Care was renewed! ”(Line 835), it shows that Grendel’s mother not only takes AEshere for revenge, but also takes the Danes most prized trophy, Grendel’s arm! Knowing Beowulf, he will not let the troll wife get away with this. Beowulf says, “Better for man to avenge a friend than much to mourn. ”(Line 896) Beowulf shows that the only way to fix this problem is to avenge AEshere. Later on, Beowulf travels to the troll wife’s cave and slays her.

He easily chose to kill the merciless creature and exact revenge rather than using the Christian ideal of forgiveness. All in all, the Danes and the troll wife constantly use revenge to be on the upper hand. In the last act of revenge, the conflict of the dragon brings a strong proof of revenge. A thief steals a flagon from a dragon and it becomes very angered and ferocious. The dragon was “kindled to battle and war;” (Line 1400). The dragon reins terror on all of the land and wants revenge for having his flagon taken. A giant worm even wants to get payback even on a little flagon.

Later on, Beowulf gets sick of the dragon and wants revenge on it for taking lives of the Allred 3 people. Beowulf and Wiglaf, one of Beowulf’s knights, both work together to slay the dragon that has wreaked havoc on the land. The story states, “A little lower the stalwart struck at the evil beast, and his blade drove home plated and gleaming”(Line 1620) The two warriors desperately want revenge on the dragon because they know that by working together they will be able to defeat it. The fact that Wiglaf actually joins Beowulf in his battle shows that Wiglaf wants to avenge the warrior from his wound.

In the end when Beowulf dies, Wiglaf was angered that when Beowulf needed them most, his soldiers abandoned him. Now that Wiglaf is the new king, he is able to exact revenge on the cowardly soldiers. Their punishment is, “Shall cease from your kindred… Shall fail of his birthright” (Line 1757) This is Wiglaf’s way of executing revenge on the weak and cowardly. Wiglaf did not want the men to get away from their actions with no punishment. Overall, the dragon, Beowulf, and Wiglaf all show signs of revenge on their actions, words, and thoughts.

In Conclusion, most of the characters in the story Beowulf show that revenge is a big part in the Anglo-Saxon community rather than having the ideal of forgiveness. Beowulf and his followers show how they all contradict the Christian ideal of forgiveness by using revenge and retaliation. It does not matter to them what they have to do or what they will lose, they will always try to get revenge on one another. None of them will forgive one another or let someone slide. The characters in the story always want the last punch or the last say in the matter to make them feel complete and complacent.