Seamus Heaney : The Themes Of Death In Beowulf

2025 Words9 Pages
Death perception is what sets apart the wise from the foolish and the sensitive from the weak minded; this statement is both true within life and the epic poem Beowulf. Many statements within the spectrum of death in the current world relates and dates back to this one poem, even more so now through the translation of Seamus Heaney. Passed along as a folk tale from as early as the 5th century to the 9th century, and then composed in about the 10th century, Beowulf creates a solid base for many of today’s present and worldly ideals. Countless themes are taken from this poem, but one theme that many people may glaze over is the extremely morbid tone of death and its purpose. Used as an archetype for the audience, the purpose of this morbid theme of death is to help understand and cope with mortality, especially during that time period. Accepting/ understanding is wiser than foolishly attempting to escape or cheat death as the poem blatantly proves after closely analyzing its purpose of discussing fate and death before the battles; choosing to always stand by good morals and actions; and the major significance of the main character’s death along with a couple counterarguments. By examining each aspect, the reader will gain the realization as to why Seamus Heaney decided to create this theme that he did with the direction from “The Beowulf poet [that] was captivated by the imagery of death” (Tanke 356).
Before each and every battle that Beowulf takes on, there is always a specific section that speaks about fate and what is to come with death. Gruesome descriptions of battle and fate ending in death is brought about extremely casually and often. When Beowulf first meets King Hrothgar to help him protect his kingdom from Grendel, he immediately tells the king, “Whichever one death fells / must deem it a just judgement by God” (Heaney ll. 440-441). Since this epic poem was composed within an era of blooming Christianity, it is shown that Beowulf is fully leaving his life within the hands of God. Beowulf believes that only God has the power to take a life when he believes it is their time; persuading the audience that it is right to fall into the same belief, causing more of a major impact on the world today. Once God

More about Seamus Heaney : The Themes Of Death In Beowulf

Get Access