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Essay on Fate in Beowulf, Grendel, and Macbeth

Fate in Beowulf, Grendel, and Macbeth

Fate plays a significant role in the Old English epic poem Beowulf and William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth.. The major events of the poem, such as the three killings by Beowulf and his own death, are said to have been predestined. In Macbeth, fate is so significant that it is personified by the Weird Sisters, who drive the action of the play. But if predestination exists, then there must be an agent that determines destiny. In Beowulf, God plays this role, and fate is generally accepted as God’s will. In John Gardner’s Grendel, a novel which serves as a commentary on the poem, fate is totally predetermined, and is the will of no being. By contrast, Macbeth’s agents of fate are the Witches, who generally go against God’s will.

In all three works, fate plays a powerful role, as it did in many prescientific cultures. Fate is a necessary element in these people’s lives so that they can have some means of justifying aspects of their existence. However, the fatal agents in the works differ; in looking at this, one must keep in mind that the three works were written in vastly different time periods, for different audiences, and for different purposes. Beowulf was intended to convert people to Christianity. It cannot be a true story, since it takes place in the sixth century (Raffel, 150), four centuries before Christianity came to Scandinavia. (Creed, 141) Most scholars agree that it was written by a Christian, in order to show how the belief in God can overcome evil. Shakespeare wrote Macbeth in 1606 for a Christian audience, perhaps in an attempt to impress the new king, James I. Since King James was an expert on witchcraft, Shakespeare gave the Witches a significant role in …

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…t P. and Stanley B. Greenfield, Old English Poetry: Fifteen Essays, Providence, RI: Brown University Press, 1967

Epstein, Norrie. The Friendly Shakepeare, New York, Viking Publishing, 1993.

Demmick, Donald. “Alienation and the Process of Individuation.” http://[email protected] (16 February 1997).

Gardner, John. Grendel. 1971; rpt. New York: Vintage Books, 1989.

Raffel, Burton. and Alexandra H. Olsen Poems and Prose from the Old English, (Yale University Press)Robert Bjork and John Niles,

A Beowulf Handbook (University of Nebraska Press)

Schucking, Levin L. “The Ideal of Kingship in Beowulf.” In An Anthology of Beowulf Criticism, edited by Lewis E. Nicholson. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1963.

Shakespeare, William. Tragedy of Macbeth . Ed. Barbara Mowat and Paul Warstine. New York: Washington Press, 1992.

A Storm of Emotion in Kate Chopin’s The Storm

The Storm of Emotion

Usually a storm creeps upon us, hits a luminous climax, and then fades away into nothingness. In The Storm, Kate Chopin develops a parallel between a rainstorm and an emotional storm in a woman’s life. Chopin uses symbolism to depict the feelings of relationships that are as unpredictable as that of a raging storm.

In the time frame that this story is set, many major life decisions things are made taking into account one’s duty to family – including the selection of a husband or wife. It is possible that each of these couples may not have been in love, when their vows were stated. They have a duty to society; they must not marry outside of their social class. They have a duty to their family; they must not disgrace the family by not marrying. They have a duty to him or herself, they must not allow themselves to be alone. If they marry because there is no other choice, or because of a sense of duty, it is unlikely that they will have a fulfilling relationship. It appears as though Calixta and Bobinot are content, and if they did not love each other when they were first married, then they have learned to love each other as the time passed.

Mr. and Mrs. Laballiere seem to be content, but their relationship seems to belacking something. There doesn t seem to be any closeness of any kind. Clarisse is quite content to forgo their intimate conjugal life at least for a little while. The delay in Clarisse s arrival home is encouraged by Alcee, which seems odd for a husband who is lovingly, devoted to his life long companion.

Chopin uses the details to create symbolism that represents the bonds of therelationship between Alcee and Calixta. There is an awkwardness to…

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…ife is felt anew as the two lovers say good-bye in a glistening green world (668). Alcee and Calixta can return to their families as hopeful, vibrant people and continue their lives with a little more love and vitality.

Ms. Chopin magnificently gathers the descriptive details and uses them in such away that her meaning is comprehensible to the reader. The reader sees the complete storm, from the first raindrops to the last. She uses unique, creative symbolism to portray the thoughts and emotions that so often fade with the storm. The storm washes the depressing, dingy dust away, and allows new hope and vigor to spring up in its place. So the storm passed and everyone was happy (669).

Work Cited

Chopin, Kate. “The Storm.” Literature Across Cultures. Eds. Sheena Gillepie, Terzinha Fonseca, Carol A. Sanger 3rd ed. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2001.

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