Vengeance In Beowulf

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In Seamus Heaney's translation of the epic poem Beowulf, descriptions of deaths are often followed by the concept of avenging the murder. Rather than pick a fight for no reason, the characters do so in the name of their fallen family member. Because of this, vengeance conveys the Viking culture’s value of loyalty to their kinsmen. When Beowulf recalls stories of the past, he focuses on the story of King Hrethel and the accidental killing of Herebeald, his eldest son, by Haethcyn, his other son. Following the tragedy, the king “begins to keen and weep for his boy” (2446-2247). When close relations die it is difficult for people to carry on without them and come to terms with their death. The extent of Hrethel’s sorrow emphasizes the importance…show more content…
In contrast to Hrothgar lamenting his dear friend, Beowulf proclaims, “It is always better to avenge dear ones than to indulge in mourning” (1384-1385). Beowulf praises the idea that the best way to react to death is not by wallowing in grief, but instead trying to punish the killer for his wrong; it is more of an effective method to accept a loved one’s death when his murder is slain. His loyalty to the Danes is projected through his conviction of getting revenge for the sake of the one who died. Grendel’s mom has proven to be very vicious, nevertheless Beowulf ascertains he should pursue a brawl anyways. Beowulf is willing to put his life on the line to avenge a life for the nation he cares about and protects. He continues speaking of his ideology to avenge deaths: “When a warrior is gone, that will be his best and only bulwark” (1387-1388). “When a warrior is gone” refers to death of a Viking, and “bulwark” seems to take on the definition of encouragement in time of need, as coping with death is a challenging time. Beowulf may mean that after someone dies, that will act as the best inspiration to the remaining kin to honor that person’s life. After someone dies, his memory is all that remains, so that propels his kinsmen to act rather than woefully drown in tears. Seeking vengeance by fighting the murderer would put the character in danger, but he is very willing to in the name of the loved one who
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