This Essay Explores The Parallels Between Beowulf (Seamus Heaney) And Four Other Works Explored To Explain The Effects That Battle Has Upon Both Warriors And Society As A Whole.

2177 words - 9 pages

At War's End Warriors as well as members of society experience intense suffering and irreparable deprivation, an inevitable consequence placed upon both the private and public sectors of life as a result of battle. There are both positive and negative results that individuals experience during and after war including, but not limited to, the growth of character and interpersonal strength ("The Soldier," "War," Beowulf), victory over the enemy (Beowulf), loss of or diminished morals ("Fighting South of the Ramparts"), death (Beowulf, "War"), heartbreak ("The Soldier"), loss of hope ("One Soldier"), and physical deterioration ("One Soldier").A father, brother, or husband can seldom be replaced after war: a void is created in the domestic livelihood, for which there is little optimism (if any) that the future will or can fill. The loss of an individual's protector, companion, or descendant is poorly repaid by war's empty glory. The acquisition of territory may add notoriety to a king, but the brilliance of a crown throws little light upon domestic despair. Wiglaf, a character in Beowulf, expresses this idea:Often when one man follows his own willmany are hurt. This happened to us.Nothing we advised could ever convincethe prince we loved, our land's guardian,not to vex the custodian of the gold,let him lie where he was long accustomed,lurk there under earth until the end of the world.He held to his high destiny. The hoard is laid bare,but at a grave cost; it was too cruel a fatethat forced the king to that encounter. (207.3076-86).Another example of substantial loss suffered by individuals and society as a result of war is exemplified in Krishan Chandar's "The Soldier:" "...a village over which stretched the sky-Abdulla's village. Abdulla, who would never return. He had died fighting in an Italian village...'and Nisar,' Zaman Khan said. 'And Nisardad Khan!'" (547). The author continues, to emphasize the loss, "...faces which had sprung from the same soil, had lived in the same environments and were now watching their native land through the eyes of Shahbaz and Zaman. Gone, all gone" (547).In addition to the loss of numerous lives, battle does much more to individuals; in many instances the complex realities of war are ignored, and instead the focus is placed upon the simplicity of a common goal (victory). By such means, the morals and standards that have been instilled within the human population since the beginning of time are disregarded. Li Po writes in "Fighting South of the Ramparts," "The Huns have no trade but battle and carnage; / They have no fields or ploughlands, / But only wastes where white bones lie among yellow sands" (443.7-9).Rather than viewing war as destructive and immoral, many individuals are so naïve as to view war as a magnificent game (of both wits and skill), a valiant army, and a triumph yielding a trophy. As the reader sees in Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf, the warrior goes to fight Grendel to...

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