Karlea Zerrer Mrs. Harman College Prep English 2 24 January 2013 Why does the book Beowulf have so Much Revenge? Revenge is a big factor for several characters throughout the book, initially provoking Grendel and his mother. Grendel seeks revenge upon mankind for the heritage that he has. He enjoys raiding Heorot because it is the symbol of everything that he hates about men: their success, joy, glory, and favor in the eyes of God. Grendel’s mother’s revenge is more specific. She attacks Heorot because someone there killed her son.
Although she is smaller and less powerful than Grendel, she is motivated by a mother’s fury. When Beowulf goes after her in the mere, she has the advantage of fighting him in her own territory. As she drags him into her cave beneath the lake, her revenge peaks because this is the very man who killed her son. Only Beowulf’s amazing abilities as a warrior and the involvement of God or magic can defeat her. “Revenge also motivates the many feuds that the poet refers to and is a way of life — and death — for the Germanic tribes.
Old enmities die hard and often disrupt attempts at peace, as the poet recognizes. Upon his return to Geatland, Beowulf (2020 ff. ) speculates about a feud between Hrothgar’s Scyldings and the Heathobards, a tribe in southern Denmark with whom Hrothgar hopes to make peace through the marriage of his daughter. Beowulf is skeptical, envisioning a renewal of hostilities. In fact, the Heathobards do later burn Heorot in events not covered by the poem but probably familiar to its audience.
Another example of revenge overcoming peace occurs in the Finnsburh section (1068-1159). ” (Anonymous). Beowulf’s final battle is the result of pure revenge. A risky fire-dragon seeks revenge because a fugitive slave has stolen a valued cup from the monster’s treasure-hoard. His attacks across the countryside include the burning of Beowulf’s home. Beowulf then seeks his own revenge by going after the dragon. (Jenni Stenberge) In “Beowulf”, the theme of revenge is recurrent.
The concept is represented through the character of Grendel’s mother, and serves as a warning both to the Danes and the Anglo-Saxons, who told the tale. The warning is simply that every man – every thane – must fight the urge to kill purely for revenge, or it will eventually wipe out society. This is also alluded to in Wiglaf’s speech at the end. Beowulf unfortunately fights the dragon at the end to avenge the attacks on Geatland – a noble enterprise and yet a selfish one.
The old crone at Beowulf’s funeral also warns the Geats against revenge. Anonymous. “Beowulf: Critical Essays: Major Themes in Beowulf – CliffsNotes. ” Get Homework Help with CliffsNotes Study Guides. N. p. , n. d. Web. 24 Jan. 2013. Sternberg, Jenni. “Mr. Wentworth’s Class. ” TeacherWeb – Websites for Teachers, Schools, and Districts. N. p. , 16 Sept. 2012. Web. 24 Jan. 2013. ;http://http://teacherweb. com/BLOG/MA/LincolnSudburyRegionalHighSchool/Wentworth/3/blog. aspx? Post=e62bfbf2-b3f7-43d5-b271-ad9f4522f337;