Literary works are important because they aim at explaining the experiences of a given society or community of people. Since literature is regarded as a mirror, it often tends to articulate reality and makes it meaningful. The authors who wrote Beowulf and Hamlet were committed to reflecting the society by presenting a story which accurately depicts what happens to the people in their community.
The purpose of this paper is to compare and contrast the literary representation of reality in Beowulf and Hamlet. Beowulf is an epic poem, and it is a significant work in the Old English literature. The author of the poem is anonymous. The protagonist in the poem is Beowulf. He is a hero in the Geat society. The poem illustrates how Beowulf overcomes challenges and manages to assists Hrothgar to overcome the attack of the monster Grendel. Hrothgar is the king of the Danes society. Beowulf successfully kills the Grendel (Tolkien 21).
On the one hand, Hamlet is a tragedy which was authored by the legendary William Shakespeare between 1599 and 1602. In this tragedy, Shakespeare presents the story of Prince Hamlet who is the apparent heir of his father King Hamlet who is slain by his brother Claudia. After the death of the king, Hamlet gets mad at his uncle Claudius because he believes that he is responsible for the death of his father. What he does is that he pretends to be mad because he wants to get an opportunity to revenge and kill his uncle, something that he manages to do as the story unfolds (Shakespeare 9). After keenly-going through the two publications, I would like to point out that they articulate and represent the realities of the society. Beowulf shows the uniqueness of heroic figures in the society. Everything that Beowulf did prove that there are people in the society who are able to use their strength to act extraordinarily.
He is a hero who kills the mother of the monster when she attacked the hall. After 50 years, king Beowulf succeeds in slaying the dragon. His heroic deeds earn him a good reputation which later makes the Geatland community to appoint him as their leader. The heroic actions of Beowulf are real because it shows what occurs in the society. Just like in Geatland, any other society has got problems which require a solution (Tolkien 57). However, it is only the people like Beowulf who can come out to use their strength and bravery to salvage the people and protect them from any dangers. At the same time, the death of Beowulf also depicts a true picture of the society because it demonstrates that death is a reality and an inevitable experience which everyone must undergo. Despite his extraordinary strength, Beowulf could not overcome death.
He had to die just like any other mortal human being. Because of this, Beowulf succeeds in representing the realities of the society. Just like Beowulf, Hamlet also succeeds in portraying the realities of the society. Although it is a tragedy which was written in a different context, it captures certain thematic concerns which are still relevant in the society today.
The first way through which the tragedy reflects the society is that it shows exactly how people struggle for power. Although Claudius knew that he was not supposed to inherit the throne, he decided to kill his brother the king and succeeded him right away (Shakespeare 11). His decision to murder the king, inherit his throne and wife shows what has been going on in the society.
On several occasions, many leaders have been killed because of a leadership struggle. There are many examples of such leaders across the globe such as President Abraham Lincoln (USA), President J.F. Kennedy (USA), President Mobutu Seseseko (Congo), and many more. Apart from Claudius’ actions, Prince Hamlet also behaves in a manner that depicts the ills of the society. His decisions to kill his uncle show how vengeful people have been in the community. There are many people who have been engaging in vengeful missions especially when they feel aggrieved or offended by their perpetrators. Revenge is an evil activity which is done many people because it is a way of seeking comfort and justice.
The actions of Prince Hamlet and Claudius truly reflect the evil deeds of people in the society. In conclusion, Beowulf and Hamlet succeed in representing realities. Beowulf is an interesting literary work because it shows the heroic experiences of an epic society.
Beowulf, the main character in the poem, is viewed as a hero due to his extraordinary abilities to achieve the interests of the epic communities. Hamlet, on the other hand, uses relies on the actions of Prince Hamlet and Claudius to show how people engage in leadership struggles and revenge missions which bring more harm to the society instead of nurturing peace and unity. Although the tragedies were published many centuries ago, they are a true reflection of what goes on in the society.