Comparing Beowulf and Hamlet
Descriptive essay comparing Beowulf and Hamlet A hero is usually the principle character of a story and is admired for their brave deeds. Their characteristics and accomplishments are established in an adventure or quest that they have been involved in. In the essay an old heroic epic poem Beowulf and tragedy by William Shakespeare Hamlet will be compared. The main purpose of choosing Beowulf is that Beowulf is the most important epic poem in Anglo-Saxon literature. It is the first English literary masterpiece, unaware of the author’s identity and the exact year in which it was written.
More importantly, it is one of the earliest European epics written in English instead of Latin. Anglo-Saxon culture has become more explicable because of the references made in the epic poem. Burial customs and social class distinctions are two examples of these references. The ageless theme of good versus evil continues to make “Beowulf” a classic read among students of early English Literature. Hamlet is one of the most-quoted works in the English language, and often included on lists of the world’s greatest literature.
Hamlet is Shakespeare’s longest play and among the most powerful and influential tragedies in all of English literature, with a story capable of seemingly endless retelling and adaptation by others. The play was one of Shakespeare’s most popular works during his lifetime and still ranks among his most-performed, topping the Royal Shakespeare Company’s performance list since 1879. It has inspired writers from Goethe and Dickens to Joyce and Murdoch, and has been described as “the world’s most filmed story after Cinderella”.
In the plays of Hamlet and Beowulf we see two comparable “heroes”, one being Hamlet, and the other being Beowulf. Although both are heroes in the different ways, they are heroes all the same according to the time. Both characters are faced with numerous challenges that they must overcome and this leads to their over all demise in the end. Both are seeking of revenge and then they ultimately lose their lives in a manner at which classified them as an “epic hero”. The differentiation between the two is not their actions or death, it is their authors.
Author’s of both works have very diverse diction and syntax as well as the use of tone in describing the plays through their own eyes, while the characters remain heroic. Hamlet, the play, is an intricate play on emotion and actions. As we have seen throughout the play of Hamlet, the reading of performative utterance, and Hamlet’s character as a whole, it is clear that all of his actions depend solely on his thoughts (even if they really only remain within his thoughts). The language used with in the play form a complex meaning as it is spoken by the characters.
The words can be taken into context in many different ways, but nonetheless they have impeccable meaning. For example, in the following passage, “Tis not alone my inky cloak…/nor customary suits of solemn black,/Nor…forced breath/No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,/Nor the dejected ‘havior of the visage…/with all forms, moods, and shapes of grief,/That can denote me truly,” Hamlet’s strong language and ideas form the mindset of how complicated of a character he really is.
This idea leads to the fact of how the language with in the play really does have a huge impact. The word choice and arrange meant used by Shakespeare really makes the words seem more important because you can tell each word was placed in a specific spot for a reason. Shakespeare’s tone with in the play was on that was very ominous. He used little details such as starting the play at midnight to give the play that every feeling that it had.
Overall Hamlet’s use of performative utterance through diction, syntax and tone made the play what it is today and it is what truly contrasted Hamlet from the play of Beowulf. In Beowulf we see the author’s use of syntax and diction in a different way; it creates a unique and balanced flow in helping convey the main points. Beowulf was a “hero” and was proud of it; and everyone knew it. His performances were often overly exaggerated to make it seem more than what it was.
The performative utterance seen through Beowulf’s actions in the play set a solid tone of bravery and heroism unlike that of Hamlet. An example of Beowulf’s bravery is the scene following passage: “Over all the world, or between the seas, / Or under the heaven, no hero was greater. ” The words seen in Beowulf were used as strong language to make the play seem like a godly one. Beowulf proved to be an epic because of the way it was written and the way the tone was set from the beginning and that is why it is so famous today; because it is a classic tale of a great hero.
Overall, “Beowulf is much admired for the richness of its poetry – for the beautiful sounds of the words and the imaginative quality of the description. ” While Shakespeare is mostly known for his “complexity of human characters. ” And each author contributes greatly in using language to depict each of the protagonists’ characteristics and make them unique to the situation they derive from. Through this we see in Beowulf how his strength in his actions makes him who he is; whereas in Hamlet, he is a man who proves strength through his own thoughts.
Beowulf knows he’s a hero and is constantly ready to jump into the next battle. Yet, Hamlet is too weak to make the decisions. He was always contemplating on what he should do. This idea, being their both hero but one doesn’t truly know he is, sets the different tones with in each play. Throughout each play we see the characters act upon what they think is right and they do so for the sake of revenge, this is shown through each authors use of performative utterance, but it ultimately leads to the death of two tall tale heroes.