Beowulf is an ancient text written on fictitious characters describing an ancient civilization. Based on the portrayed nations – Danes and Geats, who are now Denmark and Sweden – this was probably in the 5th or 6th century. Station Eleven, on the other hand, was written by Emily St. John Mandel and is set in the creepy era of humanity when a man has become technologically sophisticated and fit. The aim of this paper is to contrast the two documents, with the particular contrasting beacon being the treatment of friendship and loyalty. An analysis of the two texts will help us understand the characters and by doing so their traits and eventually and most importantly their views on friendship and loyalty.
Comparing the Plots
The plot is very simple. A King Hrothgar uses his new found wealth and power to build himself an ultimate partying hall which he named Heorot. The Danes then party all night and all days inside the partying hall. The story is mythical, and as such, there are mythical creatures involved in the plot. Around the Kingdom, there was a nasty giant who lived and periodically attacked the kingdom. His name was Grendel. With the partying, the noise disturbed Grendel, and he hatched up a plan to quell the noise. He attacked the partying Danes and killed scores of men. Night after night, the party continued and Grendel attacked killing men. That was when Hrothgar realized the danger involved, and he was in dire need of help.
The King resorted to his friends, the Geats, to call for help. The story depicts how he sends emissaries to the Geats with lots of goodwill gifts in an attempt to request them to come to fight the giant. That is when Beowulf comes into the picture. He and a team of men arrive at the Danes’ and launch a plan that pits Beowulf against Grendel, and Beowulf ends up tearing his arm apart. He runs off to die in the nearby desert. But then Grendel’s protective mother comes into the picture to revenge on the murder of her son, and she attacks the party then flees. Beowulf and his men go hunting her and eventually she is killed. An ecstatic mood returns to Hrothgar and his kingdom thanks to Beowulf.
The plot of the novel opens up in a theater. The story line spans over a stretch of years slightly before the pandemic, during it, and the years after. The plot features a man named Arthur Leander who is seen acting the play King Lear. While on the stage, he dies of a massive heart attack. Jeevan, an enthusiastic young man who had befriended Arthur, is disappointed with his death and finds solace in Kristen who is also part of the acting crew. This is seemingly the beginning of catastrophes in the area. On that eve, Georgia Flu pandemic erupts and many are infected with the flu. Jeevan and Kirsten, members of the acting crew, manage to leave the area before they are infected with the flu.
The story takes a new twist where many people die from the flu. The city is left desolate. Many have fled to distant lands and the few who are left are weak. This consequently has an impact on the economy. Severn airport is seen to be a deserted place. There is no electricity, no human resource to continue with the activities. As a result of the same, the group disintegrates as the members of the crew are no longer in harmony.
Jeevan is a young man who is in pursuit of a meaningful life. Initially he worked as an entertainment journalist, but he perceived his work not as satisfying as he wished. He, therefore, goes out of his way and devotes much of his time to training. He gathers his friends and together, they set out on a mission to sensitize people the impact of the flu in the area. The group formed is called Travelling Symphony. It is more of a traveling group. They set their food, costumes, and all they would require on the horses and are ready to leave for their expedition.
Friendship in Beowulf
This is a story depicting a major theme that is friendship and loyalty. There are various instances regarding flashbacks and dialogue of the book that actually portray the elements of true friendship. The Geats and the Danes had been maintaining good friendly relations over the years. That is why King Hrothgar found it easy requesting help from the Geats when he was in dire need of a savior. When Beowulf and Hrothgar meet for the first time, the King makes a remark that takes us back to the days of old. He alludes that he knew Beowulf when he was a kid and that he and his father Ecgtheow had been great friends. This is the first instance where the aspect of friendship is well manifested by the dialogue exhibited in the text. Although this is the first time they are meeting certain traits of the King actually show his desire to be a friend to Beowulf (Beowulf 23)
First, he sends gifts to Ecgtheow, Beowulf’s father, to show his desire to begin the relationship on the right foot. This was a sign of gratitude. When the men had returned, they gave tales of this emerging warrior whose reputation preceded him. This was Beowulf. When Beowulf eventually gets to the Kingdom to fight Grendel, everyone is happy. The King actually refers to him as ‘Beowulf my friend’ (Classen 34). Though they did not know each other, Hrothgar is keen to ensure he befriends Beowulf.
Secondly, the King is quite welcoming and hospitable. When Beowulf arrives, he personally receives him and has a toast of holdine wine in honor of his arrival. The wine is meant to symbolize the good relationship and friendship between the young Beowulf and the old Hrothgar who are fundamentally different because of their differing age groups and tribal affiliations. Despite these barriers, the friendship that is depicted by the two is a good one.
When Beowulf kills the giant and makes the kingdom safe, the king throws a party and gifts him immensely with lots of treasures that further enhance their relationship. But when Grendel’s’ mother comes for revenge, the Kingdom is terrified again. Beowulf offers himself yet again to be the savior in the life-threatening battle that would pit him against a second giant. It is in this scene when we discover the use of the word friend again. Beowulf, on noticing a grieving nation, calls out to the king saying: “Wise King. Grieve not. It is better to avenge dear ones than to grieve” (Beowulf 76). The use of the phrase dear one can actually be termed to imply friends. This act of selflessness is a clear portrayal of a friendship that has set off well. Of course, we know what happens next – Beowulf kills Grendel’s mother and eventually the kingdom is safe again.
From the disposition above, it is clear that the friendship shown herein is genuine. It is said that one knows his true friends during the times of trouble. In this case, Beowulf came in to aid Hrothgar in the time of trouble when the giants were attacking the Kingdom and killing its citizens. As Beowulf is heading back, he is gifted immensely. The theme of friendship is prominent herein. Hrothgar also plays his key role in keeping the friendship ties. Appreciation and gratitude are said to be key determinants of keeping friendship ablaze. As a result, the authenticity of the cordial relationship can be inferred in the manner in which the king shows gratitude to his friend.
Friendship in Station Eleven
A flashback reveals that the motivating factor is the presence of a group of people in the area who go about killing the survivors who they suspect to be infected with the flu. They want to eliminate the people and consequently gain control over the city. Kristen and Jeevan are up for a challenging task – restoring humanity through their art and performances. After they have left, they realize their counterparts, Charlie, Jeremy, and their baby Annabella, are not with them. There is the possibility that they were captured by the group that is killing the survivors. They, therefore, have to find their friends as soon as possible before they are killed.
They set back, and they find some clues of their whereabouts at the Severn Airport. They meticulously seek them, and finally, they find them just before they are killed. The friendship ties amongst them are strengthened further. Out of workmates, they became friends. Here Jeevan who takes the first step into building a chain of friends is motivated by the circumstances facing them. They are faced with danger and they ought to combine their efforts to salvage the situation. Their career brings them together and they work for a common goal.
Finally, they are on the move to sensitize the survivors together with the immigrants on the essence of living together in peace. They are glad that they achieve their goal and to celebrate the same, they recount of their experiences and are glad they met each other. The mere fact that a friend can come back for another in times of need clearly shows the theme of friendship and loyalty in Kristen and Jeevan.
Similarity between the Two Stories
The theme of friendship and loyalty has indeed been exhaustively handled out in this topic. The main similarity between the two stories is that one of the parties is in dire need of help. In Beowulf, King Hrothgar’s kingdom is attacked by the giant and he seeks help from the Deats, and Beouwolf comes to his rescue. On the other hand, in Station Eleven, the same is depicted where Kristen and Jeevan go looking for their lost friends. This is indeed true friendship.
In both books the theme of friendship is evident. Though brought about by different circumstances surrounding them, there is a solid foundation for the existence of it. In Station Eleven, the actors and actresses are brought closer by the aftermath of the Georgia flu. They have an aim of reviving humanity through their performances and gladden the hearts of the survivors. On the other hand, Beowulf and Hrothgar are brought close in their bid to stop the attacks by Grendel. The outcome of both friendships is that they are there to help each other out in times of trouble, and their attempts pacify the environment once again.
“Beowulf.” “Beowulf and Other Old English Poems
Classen, Albrecht. “Friends and friendship in heroic epics: with a focus on Beowulf, Chanson de Roland, the Nibelungenlied, and Njal’s Saga.” Neohelicon, vol. 38, no. 1, 2011, pp. 121-139.