Retribution in Beowulf

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_Beowulf_ is an epic poem that, above all, gives us a vision of a time long ago; a time when the most important traits to have were courage and integrity. The only thing that could give such fame to somebody was heroic deeds and family lineage. Beowulf, as the example of pagan heroes, exhibited his desire to accumulate fame and fortune; the only way to do so was to avenge the death of others. This theme of retribution that is present throughout the whole poem seems to enrich the identities of its characters.

In _Beowulf_, revenge is represented with both an honest and rhetorical motives. Payback of monsters' offenses is Beowulf's path to the top: worldwide fame, infinite wealth, and unanimous respect. Grendel's violence is less by revenge than it is total frustration with his situation. Other characters' actions are fueled by wanting to settle scores. Aeschere was killed by Grendel's mother only because Beowulf killed Grendel. The last monster that is faced by the Hero of the Geats only wants to guard his heap of treasure. When his fortune is raided, revenge is the dragon's only way to react. A common impression in _Beowulf_ is revenge; however some characters feel a need for retribution and try to find it until they die.

The most pure form of revenge is exhibited by Grendel's mother compared to the rest of Beowulf's enemies. Grendel's mother is never mentioned or seen until Beowulf kills Grendel. "... It became clear / obvious to everyone... that an avenger lurked and was still alive / grimly biding time" (1255-1258). Aeschere was murdered by Grendel's mother due to Beowulf killing Grendel. "But now his mother had sallied forth on a savage journey / grief-racked and ravenous, desperate for revenge" (1276-1278). Her demise is caused by her burning desire to avenge the death of her son. Beowulf's desire to reap the benefits of fame and respect overpowers all of the raw emotion and anger that Grendel's mother is going through. She is the...
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