Death in Literature
The “rituals” of death within the literature can be seen as based upon the heroic protagonist. Usually the deaths of those surrounding the protagonist, will coincidently experience tragic deaths. Whether from Beowulf, or from William Shakespeare’s well-known plays Hamlet, and Macbeth, there exist a “connection” within these arts of work on the way death is emphasized, and how deep sorrowful emotions are dealt with. The meaning of dying a purposeful death, versus a tragic one with one causing their own death is treated differently in a ritualistic way as from a philosophical way.
Beowulf, is a story based upon a strong, brave man who can defeat anyone, including monsters without an ounce of fear. Throughout the end of the story, Beowulf becomes a great ruler for many years, until tragedy strikes. A dragon becomes unleashed, and with it came a massive destruction wherever the dragon came across with. Beowulf—knowing his death was fast approaching—fought the dragon to save his kingdom. The price for the wellbeing of his people was his own life. Indeed, Beowulf died a hero. The townspeople burned his body on a funeral pyre, and buried his remains, alongside a massive treasure on a barrow overlooking the sea. That way everyone could remember the great king Beowulf was. The ritual performed for Beowulf’s body is seemingly familiar to today’s customs performed. The burning of the body, is the cremation of the deceased, the decorative and remembrance of the burrow—where Beowulf was placed—are the graves adorned with flowers and headstones in the graveyards.
Throughout the play Hamlet, Hamlet—the protagonist—comes at a point in where his grief and misery—from the death of his father—makes him question his existence. Hamlet frequently longs to end his suffering by committing suicide, but he concludes that by committing suicide it could potentially condemn him to “hell” for the reason that Christians prohibit the act of suicide. The famous quote “to be or not to be”, concludes his fears. The fear is not dying, but rather what would become of him if he were to commit suicide. Unlike Hamlet—who feared the outcome after death—Ophelia, the daughter of Polonius, becomes “insane” as...