Rituals of Death within Literature Essay

Rituals of Death within Literature Essay

Length: 773 words (2.2 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The “rituals” of death within literature can be seen as based upon the protagonist. Usually the deaths of those surrounding the protagonist, will ironically suffer the same fate. Whether from Beowulf, or from William Shakespeare’s well-known plays Hamlet, and Macbeth, there stands a ritualistic “connection” between these literary works. These literary works possess the acts of dying a purposeful, heroic death as well as heinous suicides. These deaths are ritualized differently on the basis of religious beliefs—influenced by the year written—as well as the overall “goodness” of the departed.
Beowulf, is an Anglo-Saxon epic poem composed by an anonymous poet between the 8th to the early 11th centuries. Beowulf, tells the story of a strong, brave warrior who could defeat anyone, and anything without an ounce of fear. Close to the end of the story, Beowulf becomes a great ruler, and rules over many years, until tragedy strikes. A dragon becomes unleashed, and with it came a massive destruction wherever, and whoever the dragon came across with. Beowulf—knowing his death was fast approaching—fought the dragon with the intention to save his kingdom. Although Beowulf’s intentions were fulfilled, his heroic fight for the wellbeing of his people ended in his death. Indeed, Beowulf died a hero. As a result, the townspeople acted ritualistically. They burned his body on a funeral pyre, and buried his remains along with a massive treasure on a barrow overlooking the sea. This ritualistic burial allowed everyone to remember the great, heroic king Beowulf once was. The tale of Beowulf, represents the culture, and traditions held during the Anglo-Saxon –Old English—period. Burial practices in the Anglo-Saxon era consisted of cremation, and buria...

... middle of paper ...

...uicide in hopes of joining Romeo for eternity. Such examples could signify the similarities between Shakespeare’s life and his fictional stories.
The rituals from these literary works were based upon the “goodness” of the person, and the religious beliefs held upon the time written. From Beowulf, the protagonist was laid to rest in a burrow along with a massive treasure. In Hamlet, Ophelia’s funeral is performed as a traditional Christian funeral, even though “religiously” the funeral contradicted the Christian faith. As for Lady Macbeth in Macbeth, her self-inflicted death was given no remorse. Lady Macbeth’s atrocious acts and “evil” intentions rendered her from having any sort of a “proper” burial. Throughout these literary work pieces, the rituals performed for the departed were influenced by the time period written, as well as the morality of the individual.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Rituals of Death within Literature Essay

- 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....   [tags: Hamlet, Macbeth, Beowolf]

Better Essays
638 words (1.8 pages)

Rituals Essay

- Rituals There are rituals that we practice year after year, but forget where they came from. Sometimes we continue to practice these rituals even after we have lost the meaning of why they are practiced. In the story "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson, the practice of a yearly ritual changes the lives of all the people who participate. Jackson's story reveals a horrific ritual in which one person is sacrificed by being stoned to death in order to have a better crop season. Jackson uses symbolic objects to represent the villagers' closed-minded beliefs and their acceptance of rituals....   [tags: Papers]

Better Essays
599 words (1.7 pages)

Essay about Ritual Pollution and Homicide Cases

- ... The Greeks considered this land uncultivated, or improperly cultivated. Therefore, homicide outside of the polis did not have an impact on the citizens inside the city (Endsjø 2003). This only became a problem if the person who committed the act attempted to enter the city, or if parts of the deceased’s body somehow make their way into the city. The latter was a huge problem in Antigone, the play by Sophocles. Creon, the newly crowned ruler of Thebes, leaves the body of his former adversary, Polyneices, unburied outside of city walls....   [tags: ancient Greek rituals, beliefs, asylums]

Better Essays
1814 words (5.2 pages)

Essay on Literature Is The Foundation Of Life

- With this broad educational system, there are so many to study. So why study literature at all. The answer is that literature is the foundation of life. While it is physically written in words, these words come alive in the imagination of the mind, and its ability to comprehend the complexity or simplicity of the text. Literature allows readers to experience life from the saddest stories to the happiest ones that will touch their hearts. It is a key for individuals to comprehend and understand others as well as oneself....   [tags: Personal life, Psychology, Mind, Consciousness]

Better Essays
1112 words (3.2 pages)

Une Petite Mort: Death, Love and Liminality in the Fiction of Ali Smith

- Death, Love and Liminality in the Fiction of Ali Smith The morbid marriage of love and death is not an original topic to postmodernist writing or to Scottish literature. Diverse forms of literature from Greek myth to Shakespearian tragedies have hosted stories of tragic love and romantic deaths, with varying nuances of darkness and romance. Nonetheless, this paper will attempt to establish a link between Ali Smith’s writing, postmodernist fiction and Scottish fantasy, while looking at the topic of love and death in conjunction with the concept of liminality....   [tags: Ali Smith Death Love Essays]

Free Essays
5375 words (15.4 pages)

Literature and Time Periods Essay

- Literature and Time Periods As history has a tendency to categorize events into eras by the time periods that surround them, so does literature with its works. Both categorizations are superficial, ignoring significant distinctions that separate material for the sake of convenience, or present perception. The prehistoric era, for example, is a superficial designation for all time before written historical records, even though there are distinctions within this period, which are markedly different in historical terms....   [tags: Writing History Essays]

Free Essays
1219 words (3.5 pages)

The Death Penalty Versus Prison Essay

- Title: Death penalty versus Life in Prison The purpose of this project will aim to discuss the different methods utilised in death sentences throughout the world. This literature based review will analyse the effectiveness of using the death penalty, whether it acts as a deterrent against crime or simply violates the rights to human life. With 98 countries that have abolished the death penalty, life imprisonment has been imposed as a replacement. This project will compare and contrast the imprisonment of an individual for a life sentence, including sentence length and the natural life of an individual against the use of death penalty....   [tags: Prison, Murder, Human rights, Capital punishment]

Better Essays
1296 words (3.7 pages)

Rituals : Rituals And Rituals Essay

- Rituals are activities that we can either inherit or acquire through repetition that have some sort of meaning and significance to us. A ritual can be something as simple as eating dinner as a family on Sunday nights to a complex religious ritual. These rituals a usually symbolic and we make connections to larger things that we assign value to through them. Rituals can be meaningful by commemorating important events, places, and people or just be simpler, everyday routines. Because rituals can be such a variety of different things with different meanings and purposes for those who practice them, we distinguish between religious and secular rituals....   [tags: Ritual, Religion, Ceremony]

Better Essays
785 words (2.2 pages)

Funeral Rituals Throughout Different Cultures Essay examples

- Different Funeral Rites in Different Cultures Funeral rituals are extremely diverse in the world – most cultures have differences wuth their beliefs and views on death and dying. This is one of the many things that makes funeral culture so interesting. These beliefs have been handed down and taught generation to generation. Three of the most unique and unusual funeral rituals are from the Vajrayana Buddhist in Mongolia and Tibet, the new fashion of green funerals in the U.S., and the Lithuanian absolution rites for the dead....   [tags: Burial, Death, Funeral, Decomposition]

Better Essays
722 words (2.1 pages)

Rituals Essay examples

- Rituals "Rituals are found in every human community and area primary means of social communication and cohesion."(pg. 96, Livingston) Rituals help to make a smooth transition through the human life cycles. It gives a structure to the chaos of these events. Rituals also help explain changing of the seasons or a commemoration of a historical event. " A religious ritual can be defined as an agreed on and formalized pattern of ceremonial movements and verbal expressions carried out in a sacred context." Rituals clearly help the psychological aspect to the human mind....   [tags: Papers]

Free Essays
416 words (1.2 pages)